BigXThaPlug is arguably the hottest MC out of Texas right now. The rapper hails from Dallas but is equally indebted to chopped and screwed from Houston and the smooth-spitting H-Town legend Z-Ro, specifically, who helped pioneer the glorious collision of silky, funky beats with unflinching street raps. BigXThaPlug is a part of the D-Town rap renaissance, which features tragically departed stars like Mo3 and Lil Loaded, alongside staples like Yella Beezy and The Outfit, TX. He joins that conversation and brings an energy that synthesizes the thrillingly diverse sounds of the states into something both recognizable and one-of-a-kind.
In conversation with Complex, BigX, also revealed his affinity for New Orleans rap and classic R&B. His style is, to put it simply, an amalgamation of Southern gems. This is reflective of Texas’ new crop of stars, who put on for the state as much as any particular area.
BigX, who catapulted to the top of the independent rap heap thanks to his debut LP, AMAR, and its standout single, used a prison stint in 2022 as a defining moment in his career arc. It was a wakeup call (he says he’s been locked up “plenty of times”), a reminder that he could be left behind at any time—which served as motivation to get him to produce his best work yet. “My mom got sick, my granny got sick, then I missed my son’s birthday. The world keeps going on without you. Especially when it comes to my son, I want to be there every day,” he explains. AMAR, which is named after his son Amar, finds BigX looking back on where he’s come from, and the moves he’s making to not get caught up in his old ways.
After speaking with BigX, it makes sense that his most popular song is a track called “Texas,” and not an ode to any specific area in the state. “When I say Texas, I'm talking about my whole state. It can be Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, or wherever. It's all love from me,” he explains. BigX, alongside other rising stars like WacoTron, iayze, Wiardon, and TisaKorean create strands of Texas rap that are both indicative of their regionality and effortless syntheses of the Lone Star State’s many thrilling subgenres.
Below, we discuss his initial doubts on whether or not “Texas” would be a hit, (not) riding horses, and what he loves most about Lone State rap.
When you record a song like “Texas,” do you know pretty quickly that it's going to take off to a certain extent?
I actually didn't even like the song at first. I didn't like the beat. It was just something that my team felt would be good, like, "Hey, this could spark up something." I believed in them and we did it in and now here we are.
A big part of your story is the way you were writing while you were in prison. Can you talk about the mindset you had to have to stay locked in and stay sane while you had to be dealing with that?
That's really why I started writing, so that I could stay sane. That's nowhere for somebody with a right mind to be. I just had to do something to keep my mind together and that was one of the ways that kept me solid, kept me grounded. I really feel like it expanded my vocabulary.
You were rapping before you were incarcerated, but did you take it as seriously before you went to prison as afterward?
Nah, I didn't take it seriously until after I got out that last time.
What do you think it was that made you want to take it seriously? Just your confidence that you could do it or you wanted to stay out of prison for good?
I've been to prison plenty of times, but it was just that specific time. A lot of stuff had happened while I was locked up and it just showed me that the world keeps moving on without you. The stuff that was happening too, my mom got sick, my granny got sick, then I missed my son’s birthday. The world keeps going on without you. Especially when it comes to my son, I want to be there every day.
The way this justice system works in this country is it gets so hard to avoid that cycle once you've already been put into it. What changes have you had to make to make sure that never happens again?
I ain't going to say just changing the people around me because it's the same people around me. I’ve been working hard redirecting everybody's mindset with the people that's around me. I’m just showing them that it's something different, bigger, than what we were doing. It’s that simple.
Walk me through what music you grew up listening to and what artists you were idolizing as a kid?
I actually grew up listening to a lot of slow stuff. My mom, she's from Houston, so it was a lot of chopped and screwed stuff and DJ Screw tapes. When I was with my dad, it was a bunch of old school R&B like the Isley Brothers. I just found a way to put those two sounds together and that's what helped influence my style. That's actually still all I listen to now. You get in the car with me now, I'll be listening to all R&B stuff.
Do you perceive much of a rivalry between Houston and Dallas rap? Or are the two scenes in it together to keep Texas on the map?
As far as before me rapping, I don't know. I haven't really looked into it. Since I started rapping, though, I give Houston homies the family vibes. I'm in Houston almost every other weekend. If I'm not out doing a show, I'm in Houston. It's just family to me. When I say Texas, I'm talking about my whole state. It can be Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, or wherever. It's all love from me.
"When I say Texas, I'm talking about my whole state... It's all love from me."
And what is it about Texas rap that makes it different from anywhere else on Earth?
It's just the Southern sound and the slang. People go through things everywhere, but I just feel like it's different stuff that we go through in Texas. It's just bigger problems, bigger situations. That reflects itself in Texas artists.
Have you found that your records do well outside of Texas too?
Yeah, because it’s something different, and everyone wants to hear new things. Everyone wants to be a drill rapper right now. Everybody wants to talk about killing and this and that and the jewelry and the chains. But I just came out and talked about nothing but my state and the greats from my state and people are responding really well. I'm thinking it's just because it's different. Everybody wants to hear something different every now and then. I switched it up and I did it.
Are there any other rappers in the state that you like or you work with?
I've done stuff with Maxo Kream, I worked with Sauce Walka, and I’m also in talks with Paul Wall about doing something.
What's coming up next for you?
We're actually looking at dropping up the deluxe to the album around May, add probably about six to seven more songs on there. I also really want to do an actual country version because a lot of country playlists and whatnot have been reaching out to me because of the song. I figured, “Why not do a song with a popping country artist and just expand it on some Lil Nas X-type deal?”
Do you listen to any country music or not really?
Not really. I know it's probably sad because you would think, "Oh, he's from Texas, he rides horses." Me in the video, that was actually the closest I've ever been to a horse [laughs].