Houston, TX's Hip Hop scene has deep roots that truly formed when pioneers like DJ Screw began experimenting with slowed-down mixes, giving birth to the "chopped and screwed" subgenre. Screw's mixtapes became legendary, influencing countless artists and shaping the city's distinct sound. Groups like Geto Boys emerged, garnering national attention with their gritty lyrics and Southern-fried beats.

Eventually, Houston's rap scene experienced a surge in popularity with the rise of artists like Scarface, Port Arthur, TX implants UGK, and the emergence of Swishahouse Records, founded by DJ Michael "5000" Watts. Swishahouse played a pivotal role by introducing the world to legends like Slim Thug, Paul Wall, and Chamillionaire, many of whom would go on to achieve mainstream success.

H-Town culture isn't just about the music; it's also about the lifestyle and the community. From flashy jewelry to candy-painted slabs, the city embodied a unique blend of streetwise authenticity. The city's diversity and resilience allowed it to flourish amongst others, all while staying true to its roots. Today, artists like Travis Scott and Megan Thee Stallion carry the torch, showcasing Houston's ongoing influence.

REVOLT compiled a list of rap heavyweights that deserve recognition for cultivating Houston culture and/or bringing it to new heights. Check out 16 of the best from Space City below.

1. UGK (Pimp C and Bun B)

It would be remiss to exclude these two legends from Port Arthur, TX, a town roughly an hour and a half east of Houston. UGK, short for Underground Kingz, rose to prominence with their distinctive Southern rap style characterized by hard-hitting lyrics and soulful production. The duo gained national recognition with albums like Ridin' Dirty and are solidified as true legends in the Hip Hop world. Following Pimp C’s unfortunate passing, Bun B would continue a successful solo career, eventually taking his position as one of H-Town's elder statesmen.

2. Lil’ Flip

Lil' Flip gained attention as one of Houston’s most prolific artists, with a slew of independent and major label-backed albums under his belt. He achieved commercial success with the platinum-certified Undaground Legend, which featured the hit single "The Way We Ball." A highly publicized beef with T.I. would further raise his profile on a national scale.

3. Z-Ro

Missouri City’s own Z-Ro gained recognition for his soulful delivery and vivid storytelling, with music that delved into themes of struggle, pain, and perseverance. Z-Ro's discography, which often mixed Hip Hop with R&B and blues, included numerous albums and mixtapes that showcased his versatility as an artist. Much of his career closely aligned him with J. Prince and Rap-A-Lot Records, making him one of his city’s longstanding rap royals.

4. E.S.G.

E.S.G. -- which stands for Everyday Street Gangsta or Everyday Serving God – found fame with his debut album, Ocean of Funk, and its standout cut, “Swangin' and Bangin',” both of which helped to establish him as a key figure in the Houston rap scene. He’s also worked with most, if not all, of H-Town's other legends – including Slim Thug, who he teamed up with for the classic Boss Hogg Outlawz LP.

5. Big Hawk and Fat Pat

Big Hawk (or H.A.W.K.) and Fat Pat were two brothers who became prominent figures as part of the Screwed Up Click. Tragically, both also met untimely deaths, beginning with Fat Pat’s tragic murder in a shooting just as he was gaining widespread recognition for his music. After carrying the torch for his late kin, Hawk was fatally shot sometime later during an apparent home invasion.

6. Trae Tha Truth

Trae Tha Truth notably persevered as a rap artist despite a lifetime ban by one of Houston’s biggest radio stations. Largely connected to Rap-A-Lot (and former labelmate Z-Ro), he found success with albums like Restless and Life Goes On, both of which served as traditional examples of Houston’s iconic sound. Trae is also celebrated for his philanthropy and activism, often using his platform to advocate for social justice causes and community efforts -- particularly during times of crisis such as Hurricane Harvey.

7. Paul Wall and Chamillionaire

As a duo, Paul Wall and Chamillionaire gained widespread recognition for Get Ya Mind Correct. Unfortunately, the Swishahouse duo and their camps would subsequently find themselves in a beef – one that thankfully ended later on in their respective careers. Both rappers thrived as solo artists thanks to a plethora of hit singles, well-received albums, and incredible features with others across the country.

8. Scarface and Geto Boys

Geto Boys, a group that – after an initial, lesser-known lineup – consisted of Scarface, Willie D, and late rapper Bushwick Bill, were one of the hallmarks of Rap-A-Lot. Together, they tackled taboo subjects such as poverty, racism, and violence, earning both controversy and acclaim in Houston and the United States. Eventually, Scarface emerged as a standout member thanks to solo classics like The Diary and The Fix.

9. Lil’ Keke

The pioneering Lil’ Keke has aligned himself with both the Screwed Up Click and Swishahouse at different points in his decorated career. Following the groundbreaking debut, Don't Mess Wit Texas, he delivered a wealth of well-received albums and collaborations, and continues to remain active as part of his city’s booming music scene.

10. Mike Jones

Who? Mike Jones’ signature catchphrase, phone number, and influential marketing strategies gradually propelled him to national stardom. That entrepreneurial focus became the centerpiece of his debut album, Who Is Mike Jones?, and hits like "Back Then" and "Still Tippin’."

11. Slim Thug

Slim Thug is another notable artist that first found musical success after building his own grassroots movement. He would eventually partner with The Neptunes’ Star Trak outlet, which helped his music ascend to national exposure. Thug’s iconic catalog and treasure trove of timeless hits are all blueprints for anyone looking to live life like a boss.

12. Devin The Dude

Devin The Dude is arguably a permanent fixture on stoner rap’s Mt. Rushmore alongside the likes of Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa. Known for his laid-back flow and smooth delivery, the former Rap-A-Lot signee emerged as a member of Odd Squad before launching a successful solo career. His music often explored themes of everyday life, relationships, and marijuana use with a comedic twist. Check out albums like The Dude and To Tha X-Treme as two very timeless examples.

13. Travis Scott

Even as one of the younger contributors to Houston’s rap scene, Travis Scott has always made Hall of Fame levels of impact within his city. He steadily rose to fame via his unique production style and singles like “Antidote” before effectively blowing the proverbial ceiling wide open with Astroworld.

14. Megan Thee Stallion

Many would argue that Megan Thee Stallion is Houston’s current crown-bearer and an artist who has already cemented her future legend status. After breaking through the proverbial mold with “Big Ole Freak,” the XXL Freshman alum continued her rise to power with singles like “Body,” “HISS,” and "Savage," the last of which spawned a remix with Beyoncé. Megan’s highly publicized trials and tribulations have also made her a symbol of female empowerment in the music industry.

15. Tobe Nwigwe

Alongside his wife, Fat, Tobe Nwigwe carved his own lane in Houston with a unique blend of introspective lyrics, infectious beats, and captivating visuals. The Nigerian-American rapper earned a truly dedicated following as a result, all of whom continue to show up for his envelope-pushing concept releases (ex. the Originals series) and impressive live shows.

16. Maxo Kream

Maxo Kream became recognized for his vivid depictions of gang life and situations involving his own family – namely his late father. With a distinct Southern sound and raw lyricism, he's gained acclaim for albums like Punken and Brandon Banks, which showcased his ability to paint intoxicating narratives of his experiences growing up in Houston.