Diamonds in the South

SXSW panels

Diamonds in the South

Austin Convention Center, Saturday, March 18

As moderator Matt Sonzala of Damage Control Radio quipped that 1986 marked both the inception of SXSW and Rap-A-Lot Records, 20 years of Houston rap dissected itself for a panel of Screwston enthusiasts. "This is not the first time Houston rap has blown up," Sonzala announced, "but this time is certainly the biggest." As a new breed of artists including Paul Wall, Mike Jones, and Chamillionaire reap the benefits of a regional buzz, longtime South Park promoter DJ Chill harkened back to more isolated times. "The industry support wasn't always there. Once the industry realized that the streets were buying up rappers like Lil' Keke, ESG, and K-Rino, they then felt they had to support." While the perception of Houston as a self-sufficient rap market validates itself on a regular basis, Chill also reminded that it's often external hype that begets internal resolution. "At first, Houston rappers couldn't do major shows in Houston. They had to go out and do shows in small towns across Texas and Louisiana in order to build up their reps, which only then allowed them to do major shows in Houston." Ozone Magazine editor Julia Beverly reinforced the irony of the situation. "When people think of rap in the South, they think of Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Miami. They're not thinking about all of the small towns in between." As labels scurry to attract fresh talent, that thinking is sure to change.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Thursday Interview
Thursday Interview

Nina Hernandez, March 20, 2015

Thursday Picks & Sleepers
Thursday Picks & Sleepers
SXSW Thursday handicapping by the blurb

March 20, 2015

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Ben Buck
Kilroy (Record Review)

Derek Udensi, Feb. 21, 2020

Fall Platters
Quin NFN
4NUN (Record Review)

Derek Udensi, Nov. 29, 2019

More by Robert Gabriel
KJ Hines
KJ Hines
Prince of the City

April 27, 2007

Play the Role
Play the Role
Bavu Blakes is not afraid

April 27, 2007

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle