(Photo: Leon Bennett/FilmMagic)

Start any conversation about Houston rap in 2019 and it’s going to begin with the women. Not just Megan Thee Stallion defying expectations of the city to emerge as it’s first out and about female rap star.

Not just KenTheMan and Lebra Jolie, two firecracker rappers who mix cutthroat rhymes about their brash confidence (Lebra) or a healthy mixture of role reversal and storytelling (Ken). It’s not just Bloodbath either, Third Ward’s answer to Allen Iverson in a way; a people’s champ, a folktale that could argue up and down about gentrification and deliver bars about the perpetual yo-yo that is life in the ghetto. Then there’s Lizzo, a confident singer who could pretty much double for a showgirl with all her own style and flare. Who had the No. 1 album on iTunes after the BET Awards? Lizzo did, all thanks to a show-stopping performance of “Truth Hurts,” complete with twerking, a flute and twerking while being a flutist.

Like a moth to a flame, viewers and listeners have their eyes and ears open ready to hear more Houston women rap. And not just throw bars for the sake of comedic jest, we mean rap. You could probably venture on Twitter or Instagram, see a woman utilizing the classic approach of freestyling in front of her computer or in her car and bam, the hype builds, the demand for full tracks grow and so on.

Like picking Kamala Harris on topbet.eu to win the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential Nomination, it’s not a sure bet that another city will have a year that feels as dominated by women.

However, it’s remarkable to notice how everybody in Houston is seemingly eating all at once, on both sides of the gender spectrum. Maxo Kream is preparing to release his major label debut in July, Tobe Nwigwe just got off tour, welcomed his first child with his wife, Fat and then ALL appeared on the BET Awards red carpet. Young Deji transformed from being a rap star on the peripheral to, along with Aaron May another Alief act that you need to follow and hear. And if we’re discussing southwest Houston rap politics, there’s Bleeda and “Maleah Davis,” easily the most poignant song of the year about one of the more difficult moments in 2019.

Houston rap is probably in its healthiest spot in years. Think of it as a playoff team that constantly had to butt heads and run into a mountain before finally overcoming. It’s how it worked with the Bulls of the late ’80s and ’90s with the Pistons, LeBron James with the Celtics and so on. Houston rap’s biggest villain was perception and timing. Now, they’re on the right side of both.