Long before Texas attributed itself to dance rap or fulfilling a few promises to other states to help their artists get on; there was a group of hungry rappers who surrounded two DJs and formed a clique that were the face of Texas hip-hop for quite some time. The sheer number of artists involved with the House remains interesting enough as it stretches over two decades of sizeable members such as Slim Thug, Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, & Mike Jones along with regional stars J-Dawg & Magnificent.

Most will only say they knew of the House once Jones, Wall & Slim Thug got together to put out “Still Tippin’” from a mixtape that blew up nationally and became the forefront of Texas rap dominating 2005-06.

From the late nineties until The Day Hell Broke Loose 2, Swishahouse had at least one or two CDs in any deck in Texas with various themes. Appreciative of the movement DJ Screw started on the southside of Houston, OG Ron C & Michael “5000” Watts coined the Swishahouse just to show the Northside of Houston that they couldn’t  leave expansion just to the south alone. When the Screwed Up Click slowly phased out into solo projects and sadly began losing some of his chief members, the House continued on, travelling the state like a circus, willing to perform anywhere at any time their arsenal of freestyles.

Most would credit 50 Cent for revitalizing the mixtape game with his remixing of current songs into his own but the House started it way before Power of the Dollar even got off. Try any tape off the Before/After The Kappa series or the random freestyles each member would drop. The most known member of the House during its early years would be Slim Thug, having already been featured on the local radio station KBXX for his feature on Mista Madd’s “Down South”.

Sometime around 2002-03, Thug broke off from the camp and formed his own Boss Hogg Outlaws. Being the first notable member to leave the House, Thug would of course show his love in 2005 but that’s a different portion of the story. By the time 2002 rolled around however, the House already had two stars lying in wait. Paul Wall and Chamillionaire, judging by face value didn’t seem to be the most unlikely duo since UGK to explode from Texas onto the national scene. Rather, they had been cutting their teeth for years with Wall’s colorful penchant for metaphors referring to his diamonds and Cham constantly causing listeners to rewind their CDs just to hear his latest verse.

So when Get Ya Mind Correct found itself in The Source in its year end issue for best independent releases, people took notice, labels started calling and everything seemed to be at peace. The clique had turned into a label by now, settling up an online store and filtering out mixtapes like clockwork. The House was a well oiled machine and up next to back was the second duo to make it big from the House – Mike Jones & Magnificent.

While it will never be argued that Magno was of course the better rapper between the two, the chubby Jones was its most charismatic, taking simplistic rhyme repetition and turning it into absolute gold. Their debut, 1st Round Draft Picks was released sometime in 2003-04 but judging by how dated Jones verse is on “Still Tippin’” the untrained House fan would believe it would drop soon after the track. While the album featured Chamillionaire on “Day 2 Day Grindin”, it was Jones who pulled ahead of everyone else.

Of course the tiff between Jones & Cham is well documented culminating in Koopa placing himself on the national scene even further by starting the Mixtape Messiah series by dissing Jones throughout the entire first disc with humiliating skits and freestyles. Jones retorted with King Of The Streets and a “99 Problems Flow”, even asking Cham, “Who gives a fuck about a lyricist?” but the damage was pretty much done. Paul Wall stayed loyal to the camp and refused to diss Cham while gearing up for his own success after “Still Tippin” with The People’s Champ.

By the time the world had revolved around and 2007 came to be, the House was at its absolute peak. They had a distribution deal with Asylum Records to push out more of their mixtapes but the roster seemed pretty thin at that point. Jones was busy running Ice Age Entertainment, Wall starting out a group with Travis Barker and Slim still pushing the BHO’s to the moon. Even Michael Watts had a radio gig at KBXX hosting their Sunday night show. Two of the three titans from “Still Tippin” went platinum on their first time out (Jones & Wall) while Thugga came close on his 2005 disc Already Platinum.

In the years since, the House hasn’t looked as formidable as it once did with Watts still its head of state but without OG Ron C who left to form the Chop Stars, gaining national recognition for essentially doing what he’s been doing since the 90s, taking retail albums such as Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and buzzworthy discs like Frank Ocean’s nostalgia, ULTRA and slowing down the RPM to a preferred lucid speed. Mango left but came back, Paul Wall is still down for the house, as well as former KBXX jock Brandi Garcia who was the House’s first female DJ.

For any fan of Texas hip-hop during that time period, the reunion concert at Houston’s House of Blues should be a treat as most fences have been mended since that time, including Jones who has faded into obscurity after being arguably Texas’s most known star outside of UGK during the time period. Swishahouse Past and Present will be in attendance, all of whom are performing together for what may be the first time in years.

In retrospect, the House operated like an AAU basketball team, full of talent that by days end would see themselves go onto bigger careers solo. The living embodiment of “major without a major deal”, the small label that Watts & OG Ron C started ultimately broke acts and essentially had a hand in creating the national Texas rap movement.  Many have adopted the House’s business model and tried to make it work for them but nothing can replicate the sheer mania and hold Swishahouse had over not just the city but the state as a whole.

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