Parking Lot Pimpin’: Houston Slab Culture

When it comes to hip-hop, the third coast had quite a few firsts. For Houston in particular, 3 hip-hop singles helped put Houston on the map as a hip-hop city, and helped other states begin to realize that Houston was a city to be reckoned with.

“MacGregor Park,” “Rockin It” and “Car Freak” all came out around this time, and they were revered as some of Houston’s firsts.

Back in the 1980’s and still to this day, family and friends would gather on the weekends at local parks in the Houston area: Duessen Park on the Northside, and MacGregor Park on the Southside. These parks were the perfect spots for barbecues, basketball games, and even fights.

Additionally, these spots were also the perfect location for car shows, and what we know as “parking lot pimping.” Men would drive their slabs through the park lanes, showing off their rides. The improvements to some of these old school cars included: lowriders, hydraulics, fresh paint jobs (candy paint), new rims (swangas), and sound systems that would make the trunk rattle.

So, what is a “Slab”? Some say it’s an acronym for Slow, Low and Bangin’ or Slow, Loud and Bangin’, depending on who you ask – slow can either be the music (screw of course) or the speed of the car, loud refers to the volume of the stereo in the trunk and bangin’ means that your car is customized well. A slab is normally an old-school American car customized with candy paint (shiny red, blue, green, gold, purple, etc. colors), lush interiors and must have Wire Wheels ’83s or ’84s Elbow “wire wheels” known as Swangas.

Let’s be clear here- Slabs originated here in Houston. A Slab is not a Lowrider, it’s not a classic car, nor is it an art car. It is part of something much larger with a style all its own. It has its own culture – the slab culture which was born in Houston back in the ’80s and has quickly spread through the nation. The Slab is an “H-Town” thing – recognized by indicators such as unessential fifth wheel on back, luminous lights in the open trunk and fly stereo systems. But, if it doesn’t have those “swangas”, it’s NOT a slab.

Of course slab culture has close ties to hip-hop. Local legends like Slim Thug and Paul Wall have featured slabs in their music videos, and even here around the city.

The ride and all of its embellishments personified braggadocio—these decked out cars meant status. Men used the cars to impress friends and attract women, and women viewed the man’s car as a form of financial security. This is what the Geto Boys talked about in the song “Car Freaks.”

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