Up and coming rappers succumbed to the east coast sound and lyrical poise from rap initiators such as: Kool Herc, Run DMC, to name a few. But, UGK, consisting of Pimp C and Bun B were from Port Author, TX. A city 90 miles outside of Houston would lay the framework for a sustainable and cherished piece of rap history. Pimp C, the stepson of a school band teacher, possessed a classical background and an appreciation for negro spirituals and Italian sonnets. “That’s rap is noise…,” said his step-father. Arguably the reason for his soulful, church organ inspired beats with rebellious bass to complete the hip hop theme.1
So how did this change the climate of hip hop? Gangsta rap assimilated and first exposed in the west created infatuation for a regions “way of life.” The idea of southern pimps, “swanging” slabs and gold-mouthed rhyme speakers gave the under-developed hip hop culture something new to analyze. However, as southern rap expanded to the big screen (Menace II Society, Office Space, etc) and became acknowledged as “hip hop” conflict arose. Outkast appeared on the 1995 Hip Hop Source Awards they were immediately welcomed by boos from the crowd of peers.
But lack of acceptance could not have happened at a better time. A pivotal moment occurred when Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon, shortly after winning the Source Award for Best Group, developed a respect for southern style during his tenure in Atlanta. He met Andre Benjamin of Outkast and was invited to the Dungeon Family recording studio. This rare meeting resulted in a groundbreaking collaboration on the record, “Skew It on the Bar-B” and was an immediate hit. Raekwon shares, “before that south wasn’t played in New York.”
Before hip hop strongly emerged in the south, the path to success was blazed by artists, such as: Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, and others. The general notion seemed to be you can’t make it from the south in the south. But southern rap pioneers such as, UGK, Geto Boys, Goodie Mob and DJ Screwed changed the persona and challenged the status quo. The south re-designed the “big business” of hip hop by exploding on the scene gaining support from their region, selling tapes out of their trunks and supporting other up and coming rappers in their community.
1Westhoff, Ben. Dirty South. Outkast, Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and the Southern Rappers Who Reinvented Hip-Hop. 2011
- Editorial: Death of the Conscious Rapper (themissingculture.com)