DJ nights, live shows, fashion, producers and more: A guide to North Texas hip-hop and rap
North Texas rap legends like The D.O.C., Tum Tum and Big Tuck cemented the area’s hip-hop culture. Today their legacy lives on through the eccentric rap and hip-hop scene in North Texas filled with a variety of multi-hyphenated artists and creatives expanding the culture through community.
Whether you’re an aspiring rapper or just a lover of all things hip-hop, here are all the places you should know about in North Texas.
If you’re interested in live performance, you have to stop by Restoring the Feeling, a monthly concert series that takes place on the first Sunday of every month at The Limbo Room at Ruins in Deep Ellum. The event features up-and-coming rap and hip-hop artists in North Texas. Typically, three to four artists perform, more on special occasions. You can expect to see artist such as Cush With a C, Scuttino and Honey Daii.
Just down the street from Ruins, Dallas’ very own improv hip-hop fusion band, CoLabtakes over neighborhood bar and punk venue Three Links every Tuesday night. CoLab, which is composed of a rotating roster of musicians, performs a combination of hip-hop, funk and soul with special guests. When the band hops on stage they don’t have an idea what direction the music will go. Instead, they play off of vibes and whatever makes the crowd “shake.”
Over in Garland, just about anything that happens at Creators Don’t Die is worth attending.
The multi-use space founded by rapper Meka Jackson is a postmodern multimedia agency that calls itself “the heart of Texas Underground.” One of the events hosted here is Dallas Open Mic, an open-mic event for artists, producers, poets, comedians and more to perform but also collaborate with one another.
Rapper Raw Elementz has also curated live hip-hop shows in Deep Ellum venues since 2015. He’s featured rappers such as Bobby Sessions, Rikki Blu, Cure For Paranoia, So-So Topic, who now goes by Tommy Raps, and more at Treesand Deep Ellum Art Co.
If you want to check out live performances from the comfort of your home check out Deja Vu, which is a little different from a traditional live music show. Arlington-based bedroom pop artist A-Wall leads these visual-heavy livestreamed performances on YouTube and Twitch. The creatives behind Deja Vu help performers put their vision together for the entire show and viewers can watch live from anywhere.
Looking for a place to vibe and connect with local hip-hop artists? DJ sets at local bars like Tiny Victories are where you should be at. Paradiseis a monthly party series that takes place there every last Sunday of each month with DJ Sober and special guests. Only guest DJs perform, so it’s no rap show but it’s where all the cool people go, including rappers. Big Tuck made an appearance there once.
Family and Friends, a Dallas-based DJ collective, also hosts DJ sets at East Dallas bar Strangeways once a month. The bar is set to close in “Octoberish” but Friends & Family will continue in another unannounced venue. The collective’s purpose is to create a safe space for people to meet some of the “nicest and dopest” people in the city and enjoy new genres of music.
Stay on the up and up with the rap scene in North Texas by keeping up with people like promoter and local music supporter Alicia Cunningham. Cunningham has curated local shows under the name Tune’s Worldsince 2018. She books new acts all over Dallas that feature rappers, singers, comedians, poets and more. Doesn’t matter what their social media follower count is, Cunningham likes to add new and fresh acts to her lineups to give them a space to show off their craft.
Another person to follow is Dallas rapper Rakim Al-Jabbaar, son of Big Al of the famous Dallas rap group Nemesis. Al-Jabbaar is best known for producing legendary lyrics off the dome, but did you know he books shows, too? His booking label The Farmacy Family, presented the Dallas celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary at the Armoury D.E in Deep Ellum.
Leo J, a DJ and the founder of Too Fresh Productions, is also behind two monthly events in Dallas that highlight hip-hop culture. Battlegrounds Dallas, which brings street dancers together for breakdancing battles, happens every second Thursday of the month at The Limbo Room. Fresh 45s, also at Ruins, is his all-things-DJ-culture night every third Thursday of the month. Leo J is also a co-producer of “We From Dallas,” a 2014 documentary about the rise of hip-hop culture in Dallas.
And if podcasts are more your speed, Up2Something Media is the place for “unapologetic commentary” on music, food and local culture. Hosts Diego Escobar, René Campos Jr., Daniel Garcia and Shahmir Ali Bhangar interview all the up-and-coming rappers and hip-hop and R&B artists in North Texas like Bran Movay and Asia Kyree. If you have a favorite local creative, there’s probably an episode featuring them at Up2Something Media.
If you’re into music and fashion, Vibes Texashosts live music shows and pop-up markets. Founder Romii Rae created this event to bring together some of the city’s most popular underground musicians, artists and fashion designers at venues like Trees and South Side Music Hall. For a more Fashion Week vibe, Emerge, a fashion and music experience by Creative Currency, puts on fashion shows twice a year at Club Vivo with live musical performances. Hi End, founded by Raw Elementz, hosts events that combine street fashion, small business pop-ups, art and music in North Texas. It calls itself the “biggest streetwear fashion event and pop” with a purpose to connect, network and support artists.
Rep streetwear or thrifted items at the next rap show by shopping at North Texas-based brands. Independent clothing brand Young Kings Clothing specializes in athletic shorts representing various Dallas Independent School District schools and HBCUs. Real Street Jams sells vintage clothing, thrifted items and sneakers in downtown Dallas and at various pop-up events throughout the city.
Or, if you want to dress like a rapper, shop where they shop. 2828 Studios, a Black woman-owned clothing store monograms streetwear pieces that have been worn by Dallas hip-hop artists like Yella Beezy.
If you’re new to the rap game, getting in touch with a local collective can help. WeAreDallas is a hip-hop collective that hosted a series of warehouse parties “representing Dallas culture.” After a long hiatus, WeAreDallas is back curating shows and pop-ups in Dallas.
The Waiting List, a Dallas-based rap collective, hosts music sessions dedicated to growing the rap community. Curated by rappers Graham Malice and Capshun, The Waiting List collaborates with local rappers on writing, producing and releasing music.
Trying to find that perfect beat or sound? There are a ton of producers, but here are some leads.
Abyl has worked on many tracks by Devy Stonez, whose music is a blend of southern and east coast rap. Abyl’s smooth synths and drum beats are featured in Stonez’s track “Whatever” off the 2023 album I Luv Stoney (Deluxe Version) and “Wa$$up.” Female producer and mixing engineer Xela, who has also worked with Stonez and other rappers, has also produced for Dallas-based R&B artists like Briana Renee for more dreamier tracks.
Rapper and DJ Capshun is another producer that should be on your radar. He worked withP$O Kwame on his summer track “You Know Me” featuring Alexa Rae and Dandii Sun. His genre-defying mixes are a combination of trap, hip-hop and futuristic sound elements. And then there’s producer Kilo, who worked on Coach Tev’s latest single “Dynasty” and did all the production for Dallas-based hip-hop artist Sherm STX’s EP “Cabin Fever.”
Other things to check out:
- Supasonics Studios is a recording studio in Dallas by Xela and is open for booking for rappers, hip-hop artists, engineers and producers.
- Screw Done Already Warned Me is a Dallas celebration of the late hip-hop legend DJ screw hosted by Denuhmug. The multimedia company, which was founded by Dallas DJ Nosocial, honors DJ Screw’s musical impact with friends and fans at historic venues in the city.
- If you want to feel like a real celebrity, head to Headquarters. The sleek hip-hop nightclub is where you can catch celebrities like Lil Wayne, Yella Beezy and Summer Walker partying or performing with the city’s best DJs and VIP bottle service.
- Iras, founded by Dallas entrepreneur and music manager Matthew Winn, is an independent artist and label services company. It helps cultivate up-and-coming rap and hip-hop artists in North Texas through artist development and music education.
- From R&B Tuesdays to Trap Brunch, Victor’s Restaurant & Bar near the Bishop Arts District offers southern food with the latest hip-hop and R&B every day of the week.
If you don’t know, now you know.
Arts Access audience engagement fellow Brittany Stubblefield-Engram contributed to this story.
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