The FADER's monthly column Rap Road Trip showcases five emerging artists who may be relatively unknown outside their hometowns but deserve your attention nonetheless.
10 years ago The FADER came to Dallas and reported on the locally massive, globally underappreciated rap scene that, at the time, revolved around production duo Play-N-Skillz and larger than life rappers like Tum Tum, Big Tuck and Fat Bastard. It was during this time that the region’s sound underwent a shift: Acts like Yung Nation and Dorrough embraced the Boogie movement and reinvented their own version of Dallas Swag that still lives on, while A.Dd+ and Brain Gang were a direct rebuttal to the Boogie movement. A decade later, Dallas-Fort Worth rap is still full of talk about heavy stuntin’ and head bussin’, it’s still rare for an FM radio station to play local artists, and the scene is still globally underappreciated.
Today, there’s no one sound that defines the region. Instead, Dallas-Fort Worth is fractured into creative pockets that have sprung a wide array of artists who have found success in their own right. Although it’s divided, the flourishing rap scene has trickled into the national consciousness with the viral success of Arlington’s Tay-K, Def Jam’s signing of Bobby Sessions, the buzzing careers of Cuban Doll, Asian Doll, Diego Money, The Outfit, TX and more. It’s a beautiful time for Dallas-Fort Worth’s hotbed of talent and the five under-the-radar rappers listed here are only a select sample of what the region currently has to offer.
Yella Beezy is the living breathing epitome of Dallas rap right down to the iconic shag cut he sports. His music highlights the extravagant, unrestrained tastes of the city and brings to light the by-any-means-necessary mindset his Oak Cliff neighborhood represents. Beezy’s southern drawl is unapologetic and simultaneously toes the line between singing and rapping in the same way his verses seamlessly float back and forth between stealing your girl, whooping your ass, and counting his money. He’s the closest thing to a household name in Dallas but only for those in the city living south of I-30, the highway that notoriously segregates the city to this day. Even with physical barriers impeding his success in Dallas, Beezy’s videos have been racking up millions of views.
Like Yella Beezy, T.Y.E hails from Dallas’ Oak Cliff neighborhood, but whereas Beezy’s music is a braggadocious extrovert’s fantasy, T.Y.E’s music is an introvert’s daily reckoning with the rough and tumble subsect of the city. From the the first listen of his recent track “Voices,” it’s plain to hear how dextrous T.Y.E’s flow is as he commands the role of the different voices he hears in his head — the Blood and the O.G. — who are quickly established with efficient and effective storytelling. Over the last year, he’s matched his technical rap abilities with a driving work ethic. In 2017, T.YE released his debut album 32, two additional full-length projects, and over a dozen music videos from those works with videographer DanceDailey.
Go Yayo’s music is raw, visceral, and hostile — just like the persona he displays in his videos. The 21-year-old has no interest in candy-coating the daily activities of his Lil Vegas hood in Fort Worth or playing nice with rappers. Yayo’s latest mixtape All Hail Almighty Super Saiyan Boom God features a track called “Slap A Rapper Challenge” for reference. Fighting videos of the rapper are as synonymous with his name as his music videos are, local news outlets demonized his unscheduled performance at a Fort Worth school, he’s rapped for his freedom in a court of law, and he’s the target of new beef tracks every week. But Go Yayo has come out unscathed from all the controversy and, as long as rap remains fun for him, his local legend will only continue to grow.
Lord Byron isn’t just a relatively unknown artist outside his hometown, he’s criminally underrated in Dallas-Fort Worth. Since the release of his second project, Dark Arts. Vol. 2 in 2013 Lord Byron has often been heralded by local media as the premier lyricist in the city with incomparable wordplay and a spectacular ear for beats. But his music isn’t built for everyone. Byron calls this his Digital Crucifixion, which is also the title of his third project released in 2015. It’s what artists like him go through when their sound doesn’t conform to mainstream normalities or the accepted sound of their regions. With Whether it’s Dark Arts, Vol. 2, Digital Crucifixion, We Kill Cowboys, So Death Rides A Horse, and, most recently, 2018’s Sora, Lord Byron has created a timeless catalog that will stand the test of time.
At first sight, Flexinfab might inspire an eye roll. All the modern tropes of “SoundCloud rapper” are present but Nawf Dallas’s Flexinfab is doing something few other rappers can do: melding the uber-new school internet wave with Texas’ hip-hop past time of freestyling a la Lil Flip and the Screwed Up Click. Flexinfab’s discography runs deep with numerous mixtapes and Soundcloud loosies that find him experimenting with autotune, 8-bit, and emo with an undeniably Texas stamp. His music is a whole lot of fun but pay attention because every so often Fab will drop an impactful line that’ll hit you right in the feels.