Words fuel the art form of hip-hop. The strength of any rapper’s artistry lies in his or her ability to tell powerful stories, using poetic license to deliver messages that highlight societal injustices or simply recount life’s ups and downs. Fort Worth’s rap landscape owes much to lyrical luminaries such as Renizance and Scotty Boy — the powerhouse behind Immortal Soldierz, who have been churning out top-selling albums since 2002. 

The following local hip-hop artists each have a story to tell, and we encourage you to give them a listen. Let us know if we missed an artist. We would love to learn more about them so they can connect with @HearFortWorth.

SANNI

Sanni’s 2020 single “Be Mine” shows the musician’s penchant for blending soulful vocals with masterful rapping. The Brooklyn native is a self-described Christian soul/R&B artist who created the brand and movement called Only By Grace that promotes “forgiveness, a lifestyle of granting grace and a representation of God’s mercy.” Follow on Instagram at @sannimusic.

 

KEY LATRICE

Key Latrice loves putting on a show. “I am all about energy, vibe and knowing that I am about to wow people,” she told us during a 2020 Visit Fort Worth profile interview. Latrice’s recently released music video, “Sapiosexual,” features local rapper Lil Sick who alternates rhymed verse with Latrice. The song’s unhurried pace captures the quiet domesticity of homebound life as the two singers/rappers express their inner thoughts through alternating solos. Follow on Instagram at @iamkeylatrice

 

RENIZANCE 

Renizance, a founding member of Immortal Soldierz, launched his solo career in 2015. His new release “Born to Mack,” which features singer/rapper Justin CASE, is a catchy hip-hop tune that exudes unhurried chill vibes — the perfect mixtape addition for a summer road trip. Renizance manages his own label, Unforgiven Records, and presents the annual Unforgiven Live event at popular local music venues. Follow on Instagram at @renizance.

 

SCOTTY BOY 

Salvador “Scotty Boy” Vasilio started out as a street team member selling Immortal Soldierz CDs before officially joining the rap group in 2005. Vasilio has expanded his brand in creative directions, including Scotty Boy’s G’z Puffs snacks and Lemon Sweet Tea under the local brand Unforgiven Snack and Beverage Company. Fans can keep up with Scotty Boy’s new releases via Immortal Soldierz on Spotify. Follow on Facebook.

 

LOU CHARLE$

The Fort Worth rapper has globe-trotted the world and opened for national acts like G-Eazy, Joyner Lucas and A-Boogie Wit, among many others. For the release of his newest album, Life Goes On, CharLe$ gave his fans something different. Instead of a drop on music streaming services, CharLe$ provided his followers with lyrics sheets and commentary, behind the scenes footage that highlighted the process of creating the album, a podcast and live Q&As that discussed the album. Follow on Instagram at @loucharlestx.

 

KEVIN DEWAYNE

Fort Worth native Kevin DeWayne recently signed with 313 Entertainment, which means the veteran rapper has a direct line to Jeff Bass, famed producer of Eminem. DeWayne’s creative output spans pop, R&B, dance and rap. His upbeat single “Gangsta” was one of my favorites (adult language warning).

A breezy, syncopated ukulele provides a playful backdrop to what’s basically a two-way discussion between a sweet-sounding young female who wants to live a gangsta lifestyle and DeWayne, who plays a foil to her desires. The teasing back and forths reminded me of a less PG-rated version of Gershwin’s “Let’s call the whole thing off.” Follow on Instagram at @kevindewaynemusic.

 

JUMA SPEARS

Young, thoughtful and boundlessly talented, Juma Spears churns out about one album a year, and he always saves space for collaborations. His 2019 release “Genzai” opens with light high-pitched strings, sparse drums and a late 1980s R&B vibe — Cameo, anyone? — before heading a whole different direction with Spears rapping: “Rolling in with a cup full of gin / Acting like we can / It’s on once again.” Spears’ output is always well-crafted and worth a listen. Follow on Instagram at @jspearsdub.

 

J/O/E

Someone buy this young man a beer. Fort Worth’s official craft beer rapper probably already has a cold one in one hand and a hot mic in the other.  He’s a regular performer at Rahr & Sons Brewery. You may recognize the young wordsmith from the promotional photos taken by Rahr Creative Director Jeff Wood to promote Dadgum IPA. Follow him on Instagram at @brewedupjoe.

 


SMOOTH VEGA

Smooth Vega, veteran rapper and owner of the talent agency Premier Live Experience, told me earlier this year that Fort Worth’s hip-hop scene is at an all-time high when it comes to talent and recording production quality. The Northside wordsmith lives a clean and sober lifestyle — something he does to counter rap’s oft-maligned reputation. While he actively supports and promotes the next crop of rappers, he remains prolific as ever as a composer. “Grand Champion” from his album “Natural Born Winner” posits multiple perspectives while taking listeners into the metaphorical boxing ring with questions on religion and race relations that offer no easy answers. Follow him on Instagram at @smoothvega.

 

KRUM

Two rising rap artists from Arlington and Pantego respectively bear mentioning. Krum landed a record deal with Tooth and Nail Records as a teenager. The early break over a decade ago led to tours in the states and across Europe. His Christian faith informs his lyrical content. It’s a trope that he sometimes tires of hearing, but fans seem endlessly surprised that Krum doesn’t curse when performing. Follow him on Instagram at @krumofficial.

 

SOLAR SLIM

Solar Slim is a veteran Fort Worth rapper that has been on the scene for more than a decade. Slim has worked primarily behind the scenes making beats and writing songs for other artists, but in 2019 that all changed with the release of his debut LP, Vice City. An article from the Fort Worth Weekly notes "It’s a concept album that takes the listener on a journey through a virtual landscape made of Slim’s libidinous history, complete with Siri-voiced turn-by-turn directions that link the album’s 10 tracks, creating a truly immersive experience." You can read more here. Today, Slim continues to produce music and collab on various projects. Follow him on Instagram at @solarslim

 

SAM LAO

Sam Lao has become a familiar name in a relatively short time. Her creative muse is boundless. Lao is also a professional painter, designer and sculptor. Her popular EP “West Pantego” showcases her divergent sounds and myriad talents. (Adult language warning) “Run!” is particularly captivating. Lao transported me to a smoky jazz lounge where beatnick hand drums and a mournful saxophone set the tone before the tempo went into overdrive. Refrains of “You should run, Romeo, you should run” added tension and questions like — what did this Romeo guy do to piss off Lao? Follow her on Instagram at @thesamlao.