If you're not paying attention the Dallas rap scene right now, it's probably time to start. Last month, Mel of The Outfit, TX wrote a great scene overview highlighting the artists and crews that are spawning a renaissance in the city. It's worth checking out, but, if a list of 25 artists seems a little daunting to dive into, here's a better entry point: The Outfit, TX have a new EP called Deep Ellum (after the artsy neighborhood at the center of the new Dallas scene) that brings many of those artists on board for a showcase of the city's talents. Featured artists include Crit Morris, K. Vation, G.U.N., Ea$e, Lil Ralo, Que P, Diego Money, Kissed Killed, and Devy Stonez. You'll walk away from Deep Ellum fully soaked in the sound of new Dallas and more than a little impressed. There's not really a weak spot on here, but I'm particularly into Lil Ralo's turn on "On Em" and Que P's appearance on perhaps the tape's best song, "I Know People." Mel, Dorian, and Jayhawk provide a thread of continuity with their own charming attitude and distinctively off-kilter production throughout.
This EP doesn't just spotlight Dallas's scene as it is, though. It's also a comforting listen because it has the casual ease of the type of old regional rap tapes that have long defined under-the-radar locales like Dallas. Those projects are entertaining to listen to because, without fail, they always include a few guest verses from artists you've never heard of going absolutely lights out. While the internet makes it more likely that you'll be hearing a lot more from all of the artists included here, this project has a little bit of that aura, where everyone seems to be giving it their all, and great rapping just pops up out of murky instrumentals.
The Deep Ellum EP may be presented as above all a scene portrait, but it's a great project in its own right. It's also a prelude to The Outfit, TX's upcoming album, due later this year. Check it out below, and get familiar with Dallas's talent:
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