Label: Perrion Entertainment, Priority Records
Killer Cuts: "Crooked Streets," "Swangin' and Bangin'," "Baller of the Year"
See Also: Fat Pat Ghetto Dreams

In the mid 2000s, just as hip-hop was starting to stumble a bit after its Billboard domination in the early '00s, Houston had a moment. What exactly this meant is arguable, but that city's scene did undeniably capture the media's attention. Suddenly, hip-hop fans across the country became fascinated by the funny punchlines of Lil Flip, Paul Wall, and Chamillionaire, the gives-no-fucks guerrilla marketing tactics and anti-rap style of Mike Jones, the beats by Salih Williams, and of course the growing legacy of DJ Screw. This moment had a major impact down the road, as the Internet played the telephone game with these regional sounds for future stars from A$AP Rocky to Drake.

E.S.G. was one of Houston's older, more established stars, and despite his prominent placing on Screw tapes, the vet duo from Port Arthur managed to grab onto more of that mainstream respectability than he did. E.S.G.'s first LP, Ocean of Funk, had some jams, but his follow-up, Sailin' Da South, has a higher hit rate. There was, of course, the unforgettable hook-y anthem "Swangin' and Bangin'," a true classic single. But there was also the seething "Baller of the Year," which had a lethargic swag even before Screw put his slowed spin on the record. There was "Crooked Streets," a song of paranoia and distrust that strikes a note melancholy resignation, rather than fear. And there was the record's one moment of relaxed warmth, a stoner's redux of "Float On," naturally titled "Smoke On."