Image via Jarrod Anderson

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Eric Diep is enjoying the era of Lil Yachty and Don Toliver ayahuasca retreat albums.

When BigX enters a room, the energy funnels in his direction. It’s after 10 pm when he finally pulls up to his Feb. 9 album release party at Digital University Studios in Grand Prairie, located about 20 minutes west of Dallas. The 24-year-old rapper is in a full Gucci sweatsuit and wearing his Inner Circle medallion as “Mr. Trouble” blares through the speakers. Camera phone flashlights are beaming on him. This is the first album release party I’ve been to in Texas that’s had multiple pop-up vendors for weed strains and people making made-to-order pasta and pepperoni dishes with a side of fries. I write in my notes “a lot of gas,” as the blunt smoke thickens. The event space is packed, mixing fans with industry players and artists like OG Bobby Billions and Sensi Molly.

At the moment, BigXthaPlug is the pride of contemporary Dallas street rap. In rap history, Dallas’ influence doesn’t get the same shine as Houston, but it shouldn’t be discredited for introducing D-Town boogie, jiggin’ dances, and shag hairstyles into the culture. BigX stands on the shoulders of Dallas rap pillars like Big Tuck, Dorrough, Mr. Pookie and Mr. Lucci, and Yung Nation to become the next exciting voice for locals to champion. And with his debut album AMAR, things feels like they’re a step closer to national ascendence.

The crowd goes up once BigXthaPlug starts performing “Badu Flow,” which samples“Didn’t Cha Know,” and shows off his ear for the classics. “Rush Hour” and “Levels” are Triple D anthems to the core, encouraging you to put your foot on the gas and speed down I-75. “Bacc to tha Basics” mellows things out, emphasizing BigX’s bellowing voice. Whereas other Southern rappers made it off Auto-Tuned melodies, BigX’s specialty is straight raps about the ups and downs of robbing people to get by, repping his set, and getting his shine on. His dreams of wearing designer after leaving football behind to hustle and his time spent in jail color his songs. The definition of real.

For our interview, BigXthaPlug calls in from Houston where he’s paying a visit to in-demand jeweler Johnny Dang to get a custom grill. “I’m actually getting my mouth redone,” he says. “So I had diamonds that I already did but I’m doing a whole different set with Johnny Dang. It’s just a part of showing we winning and we taking over the top, you gotta get new jewelry. You gotta separate yourself.”

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