Hip Hop thrives in Houston, and in Texas as a whole. Independent artists like Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, Mike Jones, UGK and Scarface have put the city on a worldwide radar, but many indie artists also thrive financially and in some cases without ever leaving the borders of the Lone Star State.
One of the biggest groups supporting Hip Hop culture in Texas has been the Latino community. “If you’re an independent artist, you can survive, and live, and eat good off the small and big cities in Texas,” says Houston underground artist, GT Garza. “I’ve learned that from studying and talking to Slim Thug. He taught me the pop up shop game, pulling up on people and meeting face to face. You can drive from here [Houston] to El Paso and it’s 13 hours and there’s so many towns that just want to see an artist, someone on the come up or someone they thought they would never see.”
In the early 2000s, Garza was building a name in the battle scene, around the same time Houston was getting hot in the mainstream. “I started battle rapping when my homeboys were beat-boxing on the back of a school bus,” said Garza. “Then I started entering battles and I started winning. Then when I started winning, then I was entering competitions all over the state.”
Garza took part in some of the biggest battle events in Houston, and around the state at the time, but eventually moved on. “Once I felt I had hit a certain level and got my buzz up. I then transitioned into starting to make music,” said Garza.
Since then the young artist worked hard releasing mixtapes and videos at a consistent pace. Also working with many of the biggest names in Texas rap, Garza releases videos frequently like his latest, “Last Breathe” and the popular “Young Mexico.”
As a Latino, Garza has noticed how it influences his business model. “It has its pros and cons, but I like to focus on the pros. If you’re an artist and you know your market, you’ll never have a problem getting fans to come to your shows, and I know my market.”
Also bridging the gap between generations of Latino rappers, Garza recently has been in contact with Kid Frost and is going to be on the next Baby Bash album. While also collaborating with current generation artists like Kap G, an upcoming Latino rapper out of Atlanta, for the song “Barrio.”
In a state where the Hispanics number almost 40 percent of the total population, Garza certainly has an audience to find support in. An audience he feels has adapted over time. “The Latino culture has evolved so much that we like all kinds of music. When you go to a concert now there’s a lot of Latinos and Mexicanos. They just want to jam good music. They are getting into Hip Hop more and fashion more, and they are learning to appreciate the new stuff that is coming out.”
Staying on his hustle Garza drops his latest joint, “U Remember.” Borrowing inspiration from the late Big Moe’s “Just a Dog” for the hook, the song is a futuristic ode to the ladies who knew the MC in his youth but now see him rapping. The song is a solid effort for a young artist growing as rapidly as his fanbase.