Losing creative work in progress is an artist's nightmare. Late last month in Deep Ellum, someone stole the backpack of local rapper -Topic. Inside was a hard drive with multiple albums’ worth of original music.
The chances of the local rapper getting the hard drive back aren’t looking good. But the community is stepping up and helping -Topic get back on his feet. He’s started a GoFundMe, and on Oct. 14, Trees will even have a benefit concert.
It all started on Wednesday, Sept. 28, when he was down at Deep Ellum’s Drugstore Cowboy for an open mic event. A little before 11:30 p.m., -Topic “let my guard down to take in the good energy.” Next thing he knew, his camera bag and backpack vanished. The hard drive included his next two albums, These Things Will Happen and Be Good & Do Well 2. -Topic said that the drive “has my soul in sound on it.”
Donny Domino of DOJO45 has worked extensively with -Topic, after they first met in 2011 while working on -Topic’s Finally Confident album. For Domino, -Topic is “more than a friend, he’s like a brother.”
Domino explained, “That hard drive, man, it had everything.” It wasn’t just -Topic’s music; for years, -Topic had kept all his ideas on that hard drive — ideas for videos, ideas for events, in addition to ideas for music. “It is a personal tragedy for that stuff to disappear the way it did,” Domino said.
Back in February, when -Topic dropped the positive and upbeat album My Favorite Sweaters, he had planned to drop These Things Will Happen this November — which likely won’t be the case at this point.
Domino noted that -Topic “worked tirelessly,” often working graveyard shifts 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Domino said that -Topic had been “building [the album] piece by piece, song by song, working with artist by artist.” According to -Topic, These Things Will Happen was focused on “the prejudice and bitchassness” that come with racial profiling and police brutality. The album involved a handful of other artists, including Blue, the Misfit, Bobby Sessions, Slim Gravy, Paris Pershun, Sam Lao, Tunk and more.
The hard drive had the last song from Nawf Dallas duo A.Dd+, who split up earlier this year, and a song with Jordan “JoJo” Walker, who recently passed away.
Local artist Sam Lao has known -Topic for three or four years, which is about as long as she’s done music. “He’s such a positive guy. He works so hard for this city.” She lamented that something like this could “happen at such a pivotal moment for him, especially so close to being done with everything [on the albums].”
In August, -Topic became the first musician to get a grant from Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs. Before that, he’s been a Red Bull Sound Select artist and participated in the Dallas Ideas Festival, which described him as “powered by positivity.”
Gavin Mulloy, the creative director at The Bomb Factory and Trees, who has known -Topic for about four years, organized the benefit for -Topic. He calls it “These Things Will Happen: -Topic Benefit Show.” According to the event’s Facebook, the benefit hopes to “help -Topic get back making us smile like he does!” Tickets are $11, and the doors will open at 7 p.m.
“-Topic’s one of those people that just walks around with a smile on his face and he makes everybody else smile,” said Mulloy. He got the idea to organize a benefit concert for -Topic after seeing him at Blue, The Misfit’s listening party, where the usually cheery -Topic was noticeably in low spirits. “So when I saw him at Blue’s listening party, it was really hard on me 'cause I know how he is, and he wasn’t like that,” Mulloy said.
Mulloy and -Topic organized the performers, which will include Dezi 5, Buffalo Black, Cure for Paranoia, Lord Byron, Sam Lao and others. When -Topic asked Sam Lao to perform, she didn’t hesitate. “Of course, it was a no brainer for me,” Lao says.
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-Topic will be performing too, including a new “song for the guy that took the bags.” He explained on Facebook, while recording the song, “I tried not to swear, didn’t work.”
-Topic's GoFundMe, as of 8:30 a.m. Monday morning, has already reached $1,591 from 41 people. The $4000 goal will help him “send in an older drive to Taylormark to restore a super early version of the These Things Will Happen to begin working again, get the rest of this gear, and pay the people who have to sit down with me to do a bunch of production and mixing, again, based on what all gets restored,” -Topic wrote on Facebook.
Domino noted that, while the situation “sucks” overall, one of the silver linings is that -Topic can realize how much the community supports him and “is really behind you.”
He wrote on Facebook that the City of Dallas will “be receiving executive producer credits” on These Things Will Happen since they’ve helped him change “a poopy circumstance to something AMAZING.” He told the Observer, “It’s not just my album anymore.”