While hip-hop meccas like New York and California have produced their own unique sound and pedigree, Dallas has long lived in the shadow of its older brother Houston. A few years back, North Texas made a strong push to pave its own lane on the strength of artists like Dirty South Riders and Tum Tum, and the Boogie dance craze earned national attention for its gimmicky, gyration-inducing production.
Along with A.Dd+ and a handful of locals, The Mohicans are part of the new tribe of North Texas hip-hop. Largely operating from their satellite office in Lubbock, Texas Tech students Devin Calvin (Kashus Klay) and Dave Morgan (he just goes by Dave) just released their debut full-length, Uncas, and surprised many at this year's Dallas Observer Music Awards when they snatched the award for Best Rap/Hip-Hop Act.
"I was very surprised, actually," Morgan says, adding that the win changes nothing. "When I [record], I try to do the best that I can do. If anything needs to be proven to anybody, it's to myself."
The Mohicans perform Thursday, December 22, at 2826 Arnetic.
With the release of Uncas, it's clear the win was not a fluke. The first thing you'll notice is the influence of Atlanta duo OutKast: They channel Dirty South rap in a way that incorporates funk and soul, so the comparisons are natural. But they stop short of imitation. What you hear on Uncas are two Texas boys thoroughly informed by their environment, from the production to the way Calvin and Morgan flip complex rhymes.
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If you haven't heard of The Mohicans yet, that's probably because they are as fresh to the local hip-hop scene as you can get. "Summer 2010, I went to Sore Losers' going-away show when they were moving to Cali," Morgan remembers. "That was the first Dallas hip-hop show I went to. I saw them and A.Dd+ and knew I wanted to be part of that scene."
It's appropriate to close the year with this album, which includes perhaps the local song of the year, "Fa Shiggadow," and serves as a great bookend to 2011 along with A.Dd+'s When Pigs Fly. They send a message to the masses: North Texas hip-hop is finally growing up and developing its own musical personality that can stand up on a national scale.
"It's a whole different sound, really," Morgan says of the new wave of local hip-hop torchbearers. "People are starting to catch on."