Houston rap is having another moment. Sinecure Books just published the incredible Houston Rap book (available on Nov. 30), featuring photos of Screwston’s hip-hop culture and essays on all the important artists of the scene throughout history. The Geto Boys also had their Unsung documentary air on television, which delves into the history behind how they met, why their styles meshed together so well, and the problems that each member struggled with in their personal lives.
Rap-A-Lot Records, founded by James Smith in 1986, was the black-owned, independent face of Houston Rap before there was such a thing. Though the label secured major distribution through RCA in ’91, its artists never compromised honesty for record sales or marketing appeal. Rap-A-Lot artists were (bone) hard and often disturbing, but they also forged a path that became historic. The label birthed The Geto Boys (which subsequently birthed Scarface), Tela, Big Mike, Ghetto Twiinz, Hi-C, Yukmouth. The list could go on for days, but we want to show you the best that the label had to offer.
Peace to Choice, Seagram, 5th Ward Juvenilez, CJ Mac, Terrorists, Royal Flush, Def IV and Raheem. They all made albums for Rap-A-Lot that are worth memorizing until you have no social life, but we’re looking out for your best interests, so we’re keeping it short with the 15 Best Rap-A-Lot albums of all time. —Max Weinstein