Dallas Hip-Hop: Swagger Like Us

Local artists make waves with D-Town Boogie, but the real test comes in 14 months

And the first—collaborative effort from the city's entire stable of artists—is already under way.

Continuing that is vital, Tum Tum says: "The boogie will keep going and open up doors. And if these artists get album deals, we all need to get on their albums and videos and everything. We need this. It's like when you're a running back in football. You need a blocker."

The second imperative is two-fold: Developing a local star and having him, along with everyone else in the scene, prepared for the spotlight.

The Ricky Bobby
Ray & Peter Lek
The Ricky Bobby
Check out my lean
Ray & Peter Lek
Check out my lean

Thing is—and this is the advantage the Dallas hip-hop community has thanks to its current success—everyone has the date of the spotlight's arrival already circled on their calendars.

Looking back, it's easy to pinpoint the precise moments when Houston's and Atlanta's scenes blew up: For Atlanta it was 2003; in Houston it came three years later. And these moments came when the NBA All-Star Game and its weekend filled with hip-hop-embracing activities arrived in each town.

"That definitely happened in Atlanta," Play says. "Big events that bring people into the city like that have that effect. But it's gonna be on the artists to make sure we make it our city when these people come into town. Like, when Diddy comes in, he needs to go to Cirque, and he has to see people doing the Dougie and going crazy, and he has to realize that he just has to sign these acts."

So, yeah, the tipping point for Dallas hip-hop is essentially predetermined at this point: It will come just more than 14 months from now, when the 2010 NBA All-Star Game visits the brand-new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

"I'll tell you what," Fat Pimp says. "If that doesn't happen by 2010, if we haven't come with it yet by then, it's never gonna happen."

But everyone interviewed for this story agrees, no thresholds will be crossed unless Dallas hip-hop can move beyond its current D-Town Boogie infatuation.

"The boogie's not gonna stop," Play says. "People are gonna keep making this music. But until we have a full artist blow up, the city's not gonna blow up. Until we have the ultimate artist, it's not gonna happen."

Atlanta was prepared with artists such as Young Jeezy, Ludacris and T.I. waiting in the wings. Houston had Mike Jones, Lil Flip and Chamillionaire. Dallas' stars-in-waiting...well, they're still undetermined, for the most part.

"It could be me," Fat Pimp says. "It could be Wil. It could be Tum Tum or Big Tuck. We don't know."

"A lot of the guys that are big right now," DJ Drop says, "a year from now, you won't even hear from them."

So it's tough to say if, this time, Dallas does, indeed, got next. But with the All-Star game and the opportunity it provides looming on the horizon, certainly, Dallas Got a Chance, for better or worse.

"If we don't come with it at the All-Star Game, we're gonna fall," Lil Wil says. "The whole city. And the rap scene won't matter for another 10 years."

Because if the boogie doesn't succeed, it's back to the drawing board.

"Once this dance craze is over, you can't come back and cross that line," DJ Drop says. "Look at MC Hammer when he tried to be all gangsta after doing his dance stuff. It doesn't work. At this point, it's up to the artists to see if we get there. But this dance movement right now? It's just the beginning."

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