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10 Houston Rappers to Watch in 2012

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There's something in the Houston water and it's bubbling. Not to the levels of its 2005 zenith, but we're getting to that mark with every passing day. One luminary currently holds the #3 spot on the Billboard Rap Chart (Kirko Bangz), others are still churning out music with no signs of letting up anytime soon.

It's the new blood running Houston, filling up venues and tape decks with quality music, ranging from complete nihilism wrapped in gangsta bravado to introspection through a cloud of weed smoke. It's lush, it's lovely and there are ten names to be wary of from the Lone Star State's most populous city.

10. Travi$ Scott

Photo © Michael Knapp
Cut from a different cloth, Travis $cott has made waves as a Houston producer and rapper without necessarily going through Houston to get there. He’s already got a track with T.I. ("Animal") and a far more welcome and engaging cut in "16 Chapels." He's down with ILLROOTS, and he’s been spotted in the studio with Kanye West -- a man who he gets compared to production-wise for his emphasis on tossing everything together to make anthemic, grandiose productions just for the hell of it.

9. Cannon

Photo: twitter.com/trillcannon
A noteworthy name for considerable reasons. If Kendrick Lamar had a symbiotic twin, he’d still support the Lakers yet live in the Houston suburb of Missouri City. That’s Cannon, a Stunt Team affiliate (he and Hoodstar Chantz combine for the sort of Riggs & Murtaugh sh!t talking rap everyone would love) with an impeccable sense of knowing when to drop a punchline. His Yours Truly (download it here) mixtape was released during the beginning of 2012 and remains one of the city’s most unappreciated lyrical voyages.

8. Settle 4 Le$

Outworking your opponent is the first sign of greatness. No one rapper in Houston outworks L.E.$. who is sitting on enough material to last him a few years like Zuckerberg’s IPO. To date, the man formerly known as L.E.$. (legal disputes forced the name change) has released two mixtapes in Menace and LeS Is More, each with its own theme and antiquated idealisims. One represents his love for the West Coast (evident by an animated cover where he’s posing a la Ice Cube in Boyz in the Hood) and the other is a pure free ride over Houston classics. As you read this, he's somewhere finishing up a sixteen or another music video. He just won’t quit.

7. Dante Higgins

Image © Island Def Jam Digital Distribution
Hig P. Newton, as he refers to himself, can’t escape two things. His impressive run over J. Cole’s "Blow Up" will probably define him until the end of time in the city, and second would be the black blazer that he wears at every show. That being said, Higgins already has a stellar debut album out, The Dante Higgins Story, which he hand crafted and sold himself. A football player-turned- lyricist, Hig can easily steal a crowd with one freestyle or gem about life in Third Ward.

6. Tawn P

Image © Tawn P
A whirlwind in her own right, Tawn P boasts the two things that made Lauryn Hill almost a demigod for female rappers: non-conformist looks and the ability to switch between soul singer and fiery rapper without hesitation. The blonde dreadlocked Tasmanian devil is steadily improving as a rapper, slowly but surely finding a balance between the two realms of her persona. Her Next Phase EP is on iTunes, a short but sweet introduction to the PA-to-HTX transplant.

5. KAB Tha Don

Photo © @_Just__Jessica_

There are instant personalities in Houston and then there’s Kab, a six-foot behemoth with flashing gold teeth and the sort of stand alone, grab a mic and breathlessly grab your attention like the Hulk. When you hear him live, thunderous approval and shouts are made. He’s the city’s biggest street preacher, probably one of the few odes to the grimy side of Houston that remain.

4. Dustin-Prestige

Image © Dustin-Prestige

Every being in Houston feels that they're underrated but nobody quite matches the definition of it more than Presto. Through the first four months of the year, Prestige went from obscured talent, cooler than being cool with a few features on national rap blogs to the man who holds the title of Best Mixtape in the city (download it here), according to the Houston Press. Not bad for a guy who might smote you off the face of the earth if you say he looks like Childish Gambino.

3. Rob Gullatte

Photo © Daniel T. Davis/7D Studioz
Out of sheer loyalty to his recently freed partner in rhyme Show, Rob Gullatte has carried the mantle of Trill Hip-Hop with every waking breath. The result? A spot on Spin Mobile as well as being hot shotted to the forefront of anticipated rappers. His well crafted project Abortion: The Project looks to build on his Southwest upbringing, vociferous and in your face at any given moment.

2. Delo

DeLorean
Photo © Negative Seven

We've already told you why you should care about Delo thanks to Hood Politics Vol. 3 (download link) but the buzz surrounding Delo has been present since last year's HP2. Astute in nature, Delo-isms litter most of every day life and you probably don't even realize it.

1. Doughbeezy

Photo © Marco Torres

Houston's most meteoric star had no more than 200 followers on Twitter as of two years ago. Since the end of 2010, Dough's stature has risen from omnipresent on the scene to being everywhere from XXL to recently MTV. Consistently humble, almost omnipresent on the scene. His Blue Magic mixtape (download link) released in March is a much stronger effort than his 2011 mixtape Reggie Bush & Kool-Aid.

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