Long gone are the days when a previously-untapped region in the South would spark a record label bidding war, a phenomenon that pushed local talent from Houston, Miami, and New Orleans squarely into the mainstream. But America, we're here to tell you that you missed out on one state who has been producing seriously dope records for the last decade. Welcome to Alabama.

It seems like a bunch of artists from the 'Bama have been blowing up lately, so we decided to compile a beginner's guide to Alabama rap for all you kids who only know about Rich Boy. Read on below to see the 7 essential songs you need to know, including classics from pioneers like Dirty and The Last Mr. Bigg alongside bangers from stars-in-the-making like Yelawolf and Jackie Chain...

Dirty "Hit Da Floe"

• As the first Alabama group to get a national hit record, garnering spins on BET and stations throughout the South, Mongomery natives Big Pimp and Da Gangsta are rightfully hearalded as 'Bama pioneers. Since blowing up, they've put out a string of solid albums through Universal and Rap-A-Lot, before going back to their independent grind a few years ago. This is the song that started it all, and it still bangs.

The Last Mr. Bigg "Trial Time"

• Another key pioneer on the underground side of things has gotta be this Mobile, AL native, who most folks will know as the fellow with the diamond eyeball who sings the hook to Three 6 Mafia's "Poppin' My Collar." Without question, Bigg's greatest moment is "Trial Time," a defiant criminal anthem with the memorable hook "Take that shit to trial, bitch!" And as great as the video is, we definitely recommend listening to the explicit version, unless you want to miss out on classic lines like "I was only 17, had the neighborhood hooked/Had 'em stealing out they cribs, cause my crack taste like ribs." Yummy!

Rich Boy "Throw Some D's"

• Reppin' Mobile, Rich Boy is by far the best-known rapper from Alabama, thanks to his self-titled debut, which was a dope mesh of d-boy bravado mixed with moments of introspective social commentary. Rich's national breakthrough moment came courtesy of this top five smash, which paid tribute to ridin' clean in Cadillacs and featured a hilarious verse from Polow Da Don. New money motherfucker!

Attitude "1st Things 1st"

• Originally signed to Timabaland's short-lived Beat Club label, this Birmingham native has written a bunch of huge songs on the low, including Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous" and Timbo's Drake duet "Say Something." In terms of his own career, he's now signed to Warner Bros and has been steadily cranking out a solid stream of mixtapes and videos, including this gritty standout that was shot by Motion Family.

Jackie Chain "Rollin'"

• The White and Asian Huntsville native with "good hair" is always down to have a good time. His Esctasy ode, "Rollin," which loops a trance-inducing Robert Miles' "Children Of The Night" sample (along with a Gucci Mane line on the hook), has also spawned two very good remixes with Rich Boy and Kid Cudi, respectively. After signing with Universal, we're expecting to see more big things from the Chain mane.

6 Tre G "Fresh"

• 6 Tre was a member of the notorious Gangsta Disciples and did a stretch in jail before coming full circle with his stuntastic first single, which samples "La Di Da Di," the song that made him want to rap in the first place. The regional success of "Fresh" has pushed it way past the 'Bama, landing him a deal on Battery/Jive Records and regular spins on BET.

Yelawolf "Pop The Trunk"

• This quirky kid from Gadsden first popped up on our radar 2007 with his hick-hop mixtape Ball of Flames: The Ballad of Slick Rick E. Bobby, and he's only gotten more focused since then. After popping up on hooks for Juelz Sanatana and Slim Thug, he recently dropped his truly dope mixtape Trunk Muzik, featuring this dead-serious banger. With a unique sound, an impressive work-ethic, and a partnership with KP's Ghet-O-Vision, we're putting our money on Yelawolf in 2010.

Honorable Mentions to Birmingham J, 334 Mobb, G-Side, Paper Route Gangstaz, and all the other Alabama artists who are making major moves!


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