Rap-A-Lot Records was founded by James "J Prince" Smith in Houston, TX in 1986, during hip-hop's Golden Age, as well as the time when Gangsta Rap was slowly starting to gain prominence. Stereotypically, Gangsta Rap is viewed as vulgar, and can sometimes promote violence against women without any really basis or message.
While this is the case with some artists, many gangsta rappers did have a real message. A message about the crimes and the ghettos of America, and a strong indignation against the entities that created them. These rappers were rebels, unafraid to voice their opinions.
Some of hip-hop's biggest rebels were birthed by Rap-A-Lot records, which J Prince formed out of a used car lot in order to keep his little brother off the streets.
Rap-A-Lot gave us the Geto Boys (who actually started out with an H in their name), rap pioneers who introduced us to Southern Hardcore Rap. the Geto Boys subsequently produced Scarface, a member of the group, who has also had a very successful solo career. Rap-A-Lot also gave us Big Mike, Seagram (RIP), Devin The Dude, and so many more.
The Geto Boys, which currently consists of Bushwick Bill, Scarface, and Willie D, was Rap-A-Lot's first major act, while Devin The Dude, was with the label the longest at 15 years. Artists currently on the roster are Bun B and Z-Ro
In 1994, when Biggie rapped "Not from Houston, but I Rap-A-Lot," I think it's safe to say that a lot of us weren't quite sure what he meant. The label was popular within Houston's hip-hop community, and we all knew the song "Mind Playing Tricks On Me," but to hear a New York rapper mention Rap-A-Lot was huge.
For over 20 years, J Prince put his heart and business sense into the independent label, which received backing from major labels, but the labels and the money didn't faze Rap-A-Lot's rappers. They always stayed true to their beliefs.
A lot of record labels have come and gone, but Rap-A-Lot is special. It's about heart, determination, and belief. It's about not being afraid to state your message. Rap-A-Lot brought us so much amazing music, HotNewHipHop thought it would be dope to countdown the 20 best Rap-A-Lot Records songs ever,