BigXThaPlug, Wacotron, And More: A Look At The Next Generation Of Texas’ Great MCs

Five rappers to watch from Texas.

Complex Original

Like every regional scene, Texas rap has been influenced by the way the internet has made sounds and styles borderless. Despite this, Texas rap is still deeply indebted to rumbling drums, chopped 'n' screwed-inspired vocals, and earworm melodies that make up its foundation. Beats like the head-nodding drums on BigX’s “Levels” and Wiardon’s “Ginobili” are built for slow afternoons cruising in low riders, with vocals that are playful and full of drawls—think Wacotron’s “Gram and a Hoodie.”

In rap more generally, styles these days are less indicative of where someone comes from than the music they’re into. In Texas, that seems to be less true. Despite its size and varying scenes, there’s an intertwined blend of subgenres that defines the state as a whole.

In conversation with Complex, BigX made it clear that he appreciates the sounds and styles from the entire state and the independent streak across the South, too. “Everybody wants to be a drill rapper right now, but we don’t operate like that,” he says. “Look at Maxo Kream, Sauce Walka, DeeBaby, Paul Wall…Megan, too.” The whole state has built a united yet independent sound, and the link between these seemingly disparate artists lies in the culture of support. BigX has linked up with Maxo and Sauce, and Paul Wall has already expressed interest in collaborating. 

Meanwhile, Wiardon has been a frequent collaborator of Monte Nissa, an Austin upstart who has been an active participant in the city’s underground rap scene, while iayze, another rising star is tapped into the trap-indebted plugg scene in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) that was pioneered by acts like The Outfit, TX before plugg was even a mainstream style. The list we’ve compiled is rounded out by Wacotron, a Waco-bred MC who is redefining where Texas rappers can come from with street raps built around days of hustling in his hometown, and the relentless effort it took to move past these trappings and into his career as a rapper. Lastly, we spotlight TisaKorean, who is bringing the East Coast club scenes to Texas roadhouses everywhere, and creating an energized form of dance-rap that blends these varying sounds with ease. Take “WERKKK,” which finds Tisa spitting over a mesmerizing synth line and blending it with his signature ad-libs and nearly narcotized flow. Other MCs helping to bring the state to the rap forefront include Corpus Christi’s SoGone SoFlexy, Austin’s LOS KEMET, and more. 

When we asked BigXThaPlug to explain what makes Texas rappers different, he said: “People go through things everywhere, but I just feel like it's different stuff that we go through in Texas. Our music reflects that and it has its own language. It's just bigger problems, bigger situations.” 

Below are five rappers to watch from Texas.

Update, June 20 at 2:35ET: A previous version mentioned collaboration between Wiardon and Quin NFN. The error has been removed, and the piece has been updated. 


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It’s hard to argue with the idea that BigXThaPlug is the biggest up-and-coming rapper in Texas, with a shot at the nationwide label, too. His debut album AMAR has topped Billboard’s Heatseekers Chart, with four consecutive weeks at #1. The MC’s hit single, “Texas,” got a spotlight with the Texas Rangers baseball team, and he’s gearing up to embark on a nationwide tour that will have him run through the country before a crowning performance at Austin City Limits in the Texas capital. The numbers tell one story, but BigX’s rise is the sort of organic skyrocket that is so rare in this age of TikTok and emphasis on streams. BigX has that grassroots success, using the building blocks of “Texas” to create a sustainable ecosystem. Each fan seems to come to his work because of the style he possesses, the swagger he spits with. With inspiration from Texas stars like Mike Jones, Slim Thug, and more, BigXThaPlug is clearly a son of Texas. But what makes him a star is his ability to flip these influences into something new entirely, a middle ground between classic Texas rap, Boosie-era Louisiana, and West Coast swagger.


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Wacotron takes his name from his hometown, which sits just about halfway between Austin and Dallas. The city isn’t celebrated for its rap scene, but the MC has become a local star thanks to his Southern drawl, captivating eye for details of life on the streets, and the way his voice booms against his favorite drum machine: the 808. The rapper has worked with legendary producer Southside and has also earned a chopped not slopped remix from the iconic OG Ron C. That distinction alone is about as Texan as it gets. Wacotron’s latest single is “Early Bird” from February, which showcases his clever ability to mix his rhymes across different segments of his bars: “Early bird, it's the first/I'm catchin' a bite/Tryin' not to swerve up a curve/Running through the light/I've done struck a nerve.”


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iayze has become wildly popular due to the virality of singles like 2022’s “556 (Green Tip),” which blends dance rap and memorable taunts (“He ain't this, he ain't that/He ain't a Blood, he ain't a Mac/ He be sayin' this and that/It's gon' get him clapped too.” The MC from Fort Worth has a booming voice that suggests someone older than his 20 years. “556 (Green Tip)” has accumulated over 40 million streams on Spotify, and in it, iayze opts to rap over minimal beats that give him plenty of room to showcase his ability as a rhyme-for-rhyme spitter. On other highlights, like “Go Thru Trees,” he blends the heavy, gauzy synths of a producer like Pi’erre Bourne with the sparse free associative delivery of Playboi Carti. Blending elements of plugg, rage beats, and straight gangsta rap to bring forth an entire new subgenre of Texas rap, alongside other MCs like the Atlanta-based Tony Shhnow and the New Jersey-based Izaya Tiji.


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I first heard of Wiardon, an extremely skinny teenager from Austin, as a producer (Lucki’s “Switchlanes” and Baby Smoove’s “Baby”), but he’s equally talented—if not more so—on the mic. He’s cooked up beats for Tha God Fahim, Mavi, and more, and has rapped over equally compelling instrumentals that feature verses from stalwarts like Wiki. But on his own, Wiardon taps into a vaguely NYC-inspired rap flow, perfectly content spitting flex-heavy bars over lush, sample-based loops. His work has grown more adventurous as he’s matured, with singles like 2023’s “Pick A Side,” incorporating a clever interplay of synths and bass to highlight his muddy, trauma-inflicted flow.


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Dance rapper TisaKorean is extremely online and playful most of the time, but the artist from Houston is an extremely strong example of where the various substrains of Texas rap are heading throughout the rest of 2023 and beyond. Rhythm plays as big of a role in his songs as his voice does, which often doubles as a melodic guide and an extra layer of percussion. But anyone focused solely on the lengths he goes to attract viewers is doing themselves a disservice. The MC is an extremely talented songwriter, piecing together disparate ideas and creating a new avant-garde yet instantly accessible interpretation of post-rap rap music, like he does on the delirious and nursery rhyme-inspired “Helicopter Swag Pt. 4 Mp3.” 

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