Southern hip hop is a form of American hip hop music that emerged from a club oriented vibe in the late-1990s as a popular force from cities including, but not limited to Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Memphis, Bowling Green, Oklahoma City, Shreveport, New Orleans, Miami, and Baton Rouge. In the 1980s, the rise and spread of hip hop culture from New York City and California spurred cities in the Southern United States to develop and nurture their own respective hip hop scenes. Southern rap artists were forced to release their music independently, since their music was ignored in the early years despite being one of the most popular forms of Hip Hop music at the moment. The mixtape scene has been a large factor in the success of many of today's southern rap artists. Southern hip hop can be considered a third major American hip hop genre, after East Coast hip hop and West Coast hip hop.
Perhaps the first Southern rap group to be comercially successful was Miami's 2 Live Crew. They took elements of electro-hop and hip-hop to form what was known as Miami Bass. It used faster rhythms than the then dominant East Coast Hip Hop and focused more on beats and rhythm rather than the East Coast's focus on lyricism. Their debut album 2 Live Crew Is What We Are was a large regional success, though it wasn't taken seriously by most hip-hop fans from the Northeast. They later released their second album in 1988, Move Somethin', and then most controversially As Nasty As They Wanna Be in 1989. As Nasty As They Wanna Be was banned for a short time in Florida due to its explict lyrical content, but it nonetheless was extremely successful, being certified 2X Platinum. Still, their style and most Southern rap wasn't taken seriously by Northeast hip-hop listeners, but they did show Southern rap artists could be hugely successful. Much more success would come.
Geto Boys were one of the first nationally popular southern rap groups. Hailing from Houston, they consisted of Willie D, Bushwick Bill and Scarface. Houston was the first major city outside of New York City, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia to attract attention from the rap world; the Geto Boy's 1989 local debut, Grip It! On That Other Level, garnered the attention of Def Jam founder Rick Rubin to executive produce and release their 1990 nationwide debut. It was the Geto Boys' 1991 hit, "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me", that began to break down the barrier for southern rap. The raw and unforgiving lyrics about paranoia and losing one's mind were a huge change from what most hip hop fans expected coming from the South. The song would go on to influence several other acts that would popularize the Southern rap scene; for example, while hosting BET's Top 25 countdown in 2004, OutKast's André 3000 remarked that "Mind Playin' Tricks on Me" "put Southern rap on the map." The Geto Boy's Scarface later launched a successful solo career and is referred to by some as the original "King of the South."
Soon after the Geto Boys' success, Houston became a main center of Southern hip hop. Now-popular groups such as UGK (from Port Arthur, Texas) and 8 Ball & MJG (from Memphis) moved to Houston in the late 80s to begin their musical careers. Both groups went on to release influential albums such as UGK's Too Hard to Swallow (1992) and 8 Ball & MJG's Comin' Out Hard (1993). Houston is also home to Rap-A-Lot Records, the first successful Southern rap label, coincidentally headed by Scarface and J. Prince.
By the early 2000s, Southern rap was arguably becoming the genre's most popular form. This is due to the mainstream acceptance of the crunk music movement. Rap groups such as Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz, the Youngbloodz, and Three 6 Mafia have had massive mainstream success releasing music focused on the ever-popular club scene. DJ Paul and Juicy J of Three 6 Mafia have had a huge impact in the expansion of southern rap. They have launched many artists (Project Pat, Lil Wyte, Chrome, and Gangsta Boo just to name a few) as well as starting a very successful record label, Hypnotize Minds. The "Dirty South" sound can be heard from Southwest Houston rappers Trae and Z-Ro, Chamillionaire, as well as Sunny Black from North Carolina, Yung Wun from Atlanta, Mystikal, B.G. from New Orleans, and Young Buck from Nashville.
Bounce Music started off in 1986 in New Orleans, LA with the arrival of the Showboys' vinyl record called "Drag Rap" which is also known as "Trigga man." This record was the precursor to the hip hop sub-genre of bounce music. Similar to Miami bass, bounce music uses a call and chant approach to its music, and is a favorite of dance clubs.
By the late 1990s, Atlanta had emerged as a major city in hip hop and the city's success and influence in the rap world continues on today. While OutKast, Goodie Mob, and a number of other Atlanta-based acts (several of them part of Organized Noize the Dungeon Family collective) balanced critical and commercial success, New Orleans rapper/label mogul Master P popularized a bounce-based sound that focused more on commercial appeal than artistry.
The late 1990s also saw the emergence of New Orleans as a hotbed for rap music. Master P's No Limit Records popularized rappers such as Mystikal, TRU, Mia X, C-Murder, and Silkk the Shocker and became home to highly popular West Coast rapper Snoop Dogg; the competing Cash Money label presented acts such as The Hot Boys (The B.G., Juvenile, Lil Wayne, and Turk).
The No Limit/Cash Money formula was also successfully co-opted by Miami's Slip-N-Slide label, which included Trick Daddy and Trina. Labels such as these also caused Dirty South music to be associated with "mass produced" albums released in rapid succession. The CD packaging for these releases typically featured brightly-colored, heavily Photoshopped "bling bling"-style album covers; and a whole page of the liner notes for each LP was usually devoted to advertising its follow-ups.
In Miami, the distinctive bass-heavy scene of Miami bass evolved out of electro hop and similar hip hop-influenced dance scenes in Miami, including Luther Campbell and his group, 2 Live Crew. 2 Live Crew became infamous after their album, Nasty As They Wanna Be (1989), was banned in a Florida town and the group was subsequently arrested on obscenity charges after performing; the charges were eventually dismissed. The Miami Bass scene that 2 Live Crew typified is simply one form of southern rap and Miami Bass' club-oriented sound garnered little respect from hip hop fans. But the 2 Live Crew is not the only music artist in Miami. The first all Hip-Hop label from South Florida was the Broward County based Big Baller Records & Films. Founded by Mr. Frank "Cash" Murray. Big Baller was the first true Hip-Hop label in South Florida to sign a major multi-million dollar deal with Sony Music. Big Baller was also the first label in the entire state of Florida to produce and film their own movie. Mr. Murray has repeatedly given credit for any so called success to Master P and Jermaine Dupri and his favorite, Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell. Miami rapper Trick Daddy also lived in the Pork N'Beans Projects of Miami's notorious Liberty City, one of the city's and America's infamous areas. The city of Miami is also home to the label Slip "N" Slide Records. Later Miami Bass artists also had success, though it usually was short lived and only based on a few singles. Artists like DJ Laz, 69 Boyz, Tag Team, Quad City DJ's, 95 South, and Freak Nasty all scored some major hits in the 1990s using a Miami Bass sound, albeit with a far less explicit style than previously used by Campbell and the 2 Live Crew. This city also holds Trick Daddy, DJ Uncle Al, Rick Ross, Flo rida, Trina, Poison Clan, Jacki-O, Pitbull, Cool & Dre, DJ Khaled, JT Money, Smitty, Pleasure P, Brisco, Pretty Ricky, Plies and many more. Many of these artists were also based not necessarily in Miami but usually within its influence.
Houston has produced hip hop artists such as Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Lil Flip, Chamillionaire,Magnificent, Paul Wall, Bun B and Pimp C of UGK,Brooke Valentine, Trae, Z-Ro, Big Hawk, Big Pokey, S.P.M, Devin the Dude, DJ Screw, Fat Pat, Lil' Keke, Michael 5000 Watts, Scarface, E.S.G and the legendary Geto Boys.
The Chopped and Screwed genre was developed in Houston, Texas which remains the location most associated with the style. The late DJ Screw, a South Houston DJ, is credited with the creation of and early experimentation with the genre. DJ Screw began making mixtapes of the slowed-down music in the early 1990s and began the Screwed Up Click. This provided a significant outlet for MCs in the South-Houston area, and helped local rappers such as Big Moe, Lil' Flip, E.S.G., UGK, Lil' Keke and Z-Ro gain regional and sometimes national prominence.
By the time of Screw's death in 2000, the genre had become widely known throughout the southern United States. Currently, the style is exemplified in the music of Swishahouse DJ Michael 5000 Watts and former Swishahouse DJ OG Ron C, who now has his own record label, largely releasing Screwed music. The style is also carried on by New Orleans native and Hall-A-Fame Ent. DJ, DJ Hollygrove (New Orleans 1st Screw DJ). Their work has helped establish current rappers Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Mike Jones and rap groups such as The Color Changin' Click.
Fresh Roc Productions, a hip-hop music production company was instrumental in the birth of the Dallas, Texas hip-hop/rap music scene in the mid 1980's.
DJ Willie Fressh has worked with such notables as Erotic-D, MC Breed, Nemesis, Ra'koo Nation, DJ Snake, Ron-C, Bumble-B, D-Kru, Litefoot (Credited as "Litefoot and Big Will" as writers on the score for motion picture "The Indian and the Cupboard" starring Litefoot), Liz Mikell of tv series Friday Night Lights, DeJuan, Gugu, MC E-Rock, Top Dolla aka Richie Rich, Quint Black, Dezire (Fila Fresh), MC Azim, Daze and Raggtop, Mayhem aka Corey Johnson, Khrome & Bone, Doeski, Mike Grayson, Gangster C, Willi Will, Los Hill and Groveside.
Dallas has a sound of both East and West coast influence, but with Houston southern hospitality inspired by the late D.J. Screw made Dallas a major market. The Swishahouse movement also gave Dallas attention
Snap music is a type of music that emerged from Atlanta