I grew up in Hiram Clarke -- a community that borrows its name from the main street that touches every subdivision within its walls. Of course, I'm a Big Mello fan. The rapper was Hiram Clarke's shot at the Houston (and national) rap game, yes. But more so, he was a hero to other creatives in the neighborhood -- teaching and reminding us that we could survive and thrive as artists. It touches me deeply to witness his son, TAME, continue Mello's legacy while also being an authentic artist who stands on his own.

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-- Josie Pickens, professor, writer, and culture critic

Big Mello, Wegonefunkwichamind poster flat


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Chris Ward

Chris Ward was a yellowstone legend before he was sneaking out to make mixtapes at DJ Screw's house while attending Jack Yates HS. Ward was treated like a younger brother to already members Big Hawk, Big Pokey, and Runn G, and his skills caught the attention of Screw because of his potent features especially on songs like "shady game" and "hands up." Later Ward would make a bold move to join Slim Thug's Boss Hogg Outlawz making him one of the pioneers that broke the Southside vs. Northside music division. Fourteen mixtapes and counting, Chris Ward has stayed independent and authentic to the SUC roots.

-- Robert Hodge, interdisciplinary artist and musician, and music lover

Photograph of Chris Ward and Lil' Keke at Kappa Beach Party


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Yungstar

S.U.C. member who achieved local notoriety in 1996 with his standout freestyle on the classic screwtape June 27th; verse on Lil' Troy's 1998 "Wanna Be a Baller" launched Yungstar into the national spotlight; redeployed Kriss Kross's "Da Streets Ain't Right" beat -- the backdrop to the June 27th freestyle -- for the single "Knocking Pictures Off Da Wall" on his acclaimed 2000 album Throwed Yung Playa. Yungstar's rapping is notable for its buoyant and fluid style, vivid imagery, clever similes, and syncopated rhyme schemes.

-- Matthew K. Carter, Ph.D Candidate in Musicology, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Yungstar, Throwed Yung Playa LP, Straight Profit Records

Yungstar, promotional booklet, Epic Records


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Lil' Flip

During the twilight of the Screwed Up Click's dominance, Lil' Flip rost from being a teenage freestyle wunderkind from Cloverland into one of the more sought-after rappers on the planet. Gifted with the innate ability to freestyle for hours on end and just as braggadocious and witty as former SUC king Fat Pat, Flip would become one of the main focal points of the Screwed Up Click, ultimately culminating with his landmark mixtape, The Leprechaun, and subsequent major label deal with Sony Records.

-- Brandon Caldwell, writer

Lil' Flip promotional photograph

Lil' Flip, "Game Over" 12", Sony Urben Music/Sucka Free Records/Columbia


Z-Ro

Z-Ro is a 21st century urban bluesman in the form of a rapper. His rhymes are deeply personal, but also lay bare the precarious state of Black men living in inner city America. At the same time, his music uses his own personal uplift to inspire perseverance and hope in his listeners. Known as the King of the Ghetto, Z-Ro is a powerful voice for our country's most vulnerable citizens.

-- Langston Collin Wilkins, Ph.D, folklorist, ethnomusicologist, writer, and creator of the forthcoming Street Folk podcast

Z-Ro promotional photograph

Handwritten phone number for Z-Ro in DJ Screw's hand


Trae

Frazier Othel Thompson III, a.k.a. Trae tha Truth, is something like the SUC's (and the Houston underground's) conscience: blessed with a husky, raspy, bellow of a voice, Trae's presence on a record envelops everything around it, imbuing even his most freewheeling tracks with a moral wisdom true to the streets. This moral authority is no mirage: with his Trae Day weekend, Trae brings free museum visits, school supplies, immunization shots for kids, STD testing for adults, and free concerts to the people of Houston every year. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Trae's Relief Gang efforts have been a constant presence in a devastated city that's needed help like never before.

-- Matthew Ramirez, co-founder of Found Me magazine

Photograph of HAWK and Trae

Ozone Magazine, Issue #82


Big Steve

Also known as Granpappy Mafioso, Big Steve was part of the Hiram Clarke group Woss Ness, which also included Rasir-X, Devious, and producer Harvey Luv. He was part of DJ Screw's Screwed Up Click, too, and you can hear the influence of his rhythmic style (right in line with fellow Hiram Clarke native the late Mr. 3-2) all over records coming out of Houston in the late 1990s. Big Steve was killed by a gunshot wound in 1999, months after his debut solo album My Testimony was released.

-- Lance Scott Walker, author of Houston Rap Tapes: An Oral History Of Bayou City Hip-Hop (University of Texas Press, October 2018)

Big Steve, "Ghetto Love" 12", Woss Ness Entertainment


Lil' Randy & Rino

Randy met DJ Screw in the early '90s when Screw was DJing in clubs like Ray Barnett's Midnight Hour. Randy is a DJ, but later became a frequent voice on Screwtapes, freestyling on tapes like Codeine Fiend and also taking the mic to co-host along with Screw. Randy's brother Rino (sometimes credited as Rhino) appeared on several Screwtapes (97 Live and In Yo Ear are favorites). Randy maintains a catalog of slowed and chopped mixtapes and is one of few DJs still employing Screw's technique of recording to tape.

-- Lance Scott Walker, author of Houston Rap Tapes: An Oral History Of Bayou City Hip-Hop (University of Texas Press, October 2018)

DJ Screw, "99 Live" mixtape commissioned for Lil' Randy and his brother RinoThis is an original mixtape created by DJ Screw, also known as a screw tape or gray tape. This is the tape that was given directly by DJ Screw to Lil' Randy following recording.


Wood

Part of the wave of younger artists who began working with DJ Screw in the last few years of his life, Wood debuted on the Straight Profit label in 2000 with Against The Grain. The former crack dealer worked his way into freestyling on Screwtapes after a particularly contentious induction into the SUC on the part of Screw, who famously got right into the Third Ward rapper's face so he could see -- and not just hear -- who was rapping in front of him. Wood appears on the 1997 Screwtape Killuminati.

-- Lance Scott Walker, author of Houston Rap Tapes: An Oral History Of Bayou City Hip-Hop (University of Texas Press, October 2018)

DJ Screw, "Killuminati" mixtape featuring Grace, LOS, and WoodThis is an original mixtape created by DJ Screw, also known as a screw tape or gray tape. These tapes are very rare and desirable among fans.


Mr. 3-2

Mr. 3-2 a.k.a. The Governor was a Houston rap staple. Every era of Houston Hip Hop features a 3-2 verse, spanning a career from the late 1980s to the 2010s. 3-2 was an emcee to the core and embodied the best of southern rappers. He could sing a hook, tell a story, switch up his flow, speed up, slow down, and drop some knowledge. Whether as a member of legendary rap groups Blac Monks, Convicts, and Southside Playaz, his features or solo albums, 3-2 was always ready to wreck records.

-- Victor J. Del Hierro, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Writing, University of Texas at El Paso

Chocolate, Def Jef, Snoop Dogg, C.P.O. and 3-2, "Ghetto Holocaust" 12", Ghetto Life MuzicThis track was allegedly initially recorded by Death Row Records, who were considering signing Mr. 3-2 in the early 1990s.

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Obituary (memorial service program) for Mr. 3-2


Macc Grace & LOS

The late Dat Boy Grace and his brother LOS are usually spoken of together because they were a unit. At first, it was sports -- Grace played baseball in college and was primed for the major leagues before an injury, and LOS still coaches basketball -- but hip-hop took over. Grace formed a bond with UGK and DJ Screw, releasing From Crumbs to Bricks in March 2000. Prison stints broke up his career, but he renamed himself Macc Grace when he got out, recording several albums before his death in 2017.

-- Lance Scott Walker, author of Houston Rap Tapes: An Oral History Of Bayou City Hip-Hop (University of Texas Press, October 2018)

Portrait of Macc Grace and LOS by Peter BesteInscription on front: "Grace + Los," Inscription on back: "Brothers + original Screwed Up Click members Macc Grace + Los"

Macc Grace, From Crumbs to Bricks CD, Straight Profit

Obituary (memorial service program) for Macc Grace


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