You gotta give J. Prince his just due. He started Rap-A-Lot Records in the mid to late ’80s (not too long after Def Jam) and has been running the South’s premier hip-hop indie ever since. Still, the Houston, Texas-based label doesn’t get nearly enough love.
With the Geto Boys being their flagship act, Rap-A-Lot started making noise outside Houston when they dropped the group’s second album, Grip It! On That Other Level in 1989. While the LP’s most celebrated single, “Do It Like a G.O.” helped the Geto Boys make their mark, it was the group’s classic 1991 hit “Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me” that thrust Rap-A-Lot into the national spotlight.
Geto Boy frontman Scarface went solo the same year and went on to become one of the most renowned rappers in the game (he’s in my personal Top 5 MCs list) and the label dug for more southern talent like Big Mello and Big Mike, but once again found another star in 1994 when they released Fadanuf Fa Erybody!! by the Odd Squad, a group that was made up of Jugg Mugg, Rob Quest and a then unknown Devin the Dude. In ’96 Prince linked up with Chicago’s Do or Die and released Picture This, which featured the hit “Po Pimp,” featuring Twista and Johnny P. And more recently both Bun B and Pimp C (R.I.P.) released their solo works on the label.
Yukmouth, Tela, Z-Ro, Trae, UTP, Tupac’s protégés the Outlawz also went on to drop albums through Rap-A-Lot, putting the icing on the cake. Through the years I’ve always wondered why Rap-A-Lot doesn’t get more love. —Rob Markman
Geto Boys, “Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me”
Scarface, “Never Seen A Man Cry”
Do or Die, “Po Pimp”
Devin the Dude, “Lacville ’79”
Bun B ft. Everybody & Their Mother, “Draped Up”
Trae ft. Z-Ro, “No Help”