North Texas pumps out some of hip-hop's most artistic and underrated artists. Don't believe us, please refer to the release of the hip-hop documentary We From Dallas. Being creative spawns in an area more times than not overlooked on rap's national scale, new age artists are emerging that aren't afraid to expand upon the experimental territories of The D.O.C, Erykah Badu, Play.N.Skillz, Dorrough, and yes, Vanilla Ice. Hopefully this won't be the first time you've heard the following five artists, but if it is, we're not judging. If you don't know, now you'll know.
Brandon Smith is no glitz, no fancy pseudonym, and all purpose. Since unleashing his 2013 debut mixtape, Peru, Smith has been surrounded by local buzz for not only his immaculate neo-trap production skills but also his socially conscious lyrical content that goes deeper than most of his peers and predecessors. With a swift May 14 release, the 16-year-old Dallas MC/producer returns with his #LifeGetsBetter project. The mixtape, once again produced by Smith, seems poised to advance his precocious talents through positive influence, revolutionary messages, and dope beats.
There's something about Honey, something fiercely refreshing. A Houston native with a credited connection to North Texas' creative vibes, Honey made a name for herself last year with her floetic storytelling, bloodthirsty YouTube freestyles, and buzzworthy music videos for tracks "Psychadelic" and "Ride". In the months following her pseudo-trippy entry into North Texas' hip-hop arena, the lyricist dropped her first mixtape, Peace of Mind, showed up at SXSW and just recently was featured in The Source magazine. A trill paradox between "middle fingers and peace signs", Honey the Hippie is up next.
Hailing from Fort Worth, The Union is a hip-hop collective featuring MCs T. Clair, Myles J., and Coakley. Stylistically combining the new waves of North Texas and Houston, the group's sound is usually a mix of banging grit and chilled trill. Following the release of their debut LP, 2012's Mind Wine, remixed version of their singles were chopped, screwed, ripped, and flipped around Texas by DJ's who were drawn to their hybrid sound. Recently they've released two singles from #EuroLux, the group's highly anticipated LP scheduled to be released in 2014.
Melodically intertwining the best of ambient hip-hop and slowed electro-pop, Dustin Cavazos is an Oak Cliff MC that's all about sharing the human experience -- whether it's through his personal blog, signature merchandise, or weekly pizza giveways via #DustinCavazosPizza. And even though pizza is high on the list of life, we can't forget about the music. Between his In and Out of Sleep LP, When Death Stares You in the Face mixtape, and a slew of cinematic music videos, Cavazos' creativity has been rooted in expanding his sound through emotions. His recently released Cascades EP is a concept album of relaxing sounds created to help listeners sleep, plus it features voicemails from some of his many supporters. All in all, Cavazos is a songwriter who's true to his craft, his hometown, and his fans.
Formerly known as Ill Lil Chris, this 17-year-old Dallas native keeps a bag of tricks that make him stand out. As an MC, iLLaKriss has a distinctive, high-pitched voice that mechanically cuts through his typically heavy productions. In the midst of the slowed flows North Texas may be known for, his unusually varied raps and vocal range can be heard developing further on his second release, Who is iLLaKriss? As a producer, he composes animated arrangements that accent his quicksilver lyrical prowess and complement a diverse approach that draws on influences and styles from outside of North Texas. Who is iLLaKriss? The future, metaphorically and literally.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.