The D-Town Boogie is dead.
Really. Even those most responsible for the genre's rise are doing their best at this point to separate themselves from the once-prominent area hip-hop movement. Take, for instance, the GS Boyz, whose "Stanky Legg" became the biggest hit the movement ever saw: That group's long broken up, having split into two different factions that both claim the name and are both doing their best to offer up definitively non-Boogie-sounding tracks (former GS Boyz members Soufside & Prince's pretty hilarious new single, "White Boy Boogie" being the lone, intentionally ironic exception).
No worries, though: It was a good two-and-a-half-year run—one that, before Dorrough came along and blew up with his hit songs "Ice Cream Paint Job" and "Get Big," put Dallas onto the national hip-hop radar and set the stage for his success.
But—and let's face facts here—it's over. The Boogie is extinct. No one wants to be associated with that movement these days. Pretty much the only one still clinging to it now is an artist who maintained he was never a Boogie artist in the first place—Lil Wil, who is only holding on bitterly, upset that his song "My Dougie" was re-appropriated by Inglewood, California's Cali Swag District for their national hit, "Teach Me How to Dougie," without crediting his initial work.
Oh well. Them's the breaks.
The real problem here—Dorrough and maybe Treal Lee & Prince Rick (with their impossibly catchy "Mr. Hit Dat Hoe" follow-up "Throwed Off") excluded—is that this revelation has thrown much of Dallas' mainstream hip-hop wannabes into an awkward limbo.
Sure, Tum Tum's Purp Kobain mixtape from this summer was great, but it was too filled with expletives and drug references to gain much traction beyond the streets. And, while entertaining as a single entity, it's not all too likely to find him emerging as the next superstar of the region.
Same goes for Play-N-Skillz's efforts to turn local rappers Intertia and Trai'D into national stars. There's promise there, sure—both of those rappers are talented vocalists—but without the Boogie movement to stand on, is there really much interest?
So far, no.
There's a silver lining amongst this mess, though.
You could see it firsthand on Sunday night in Deep Ellum—a crowded night already, what with jangle-rock heroes Black Rebel Motorcycle Club blasting out eardrums over at Trees and the Double-Wide celebrating its seven-year anniversary down at the other end of the music-centric neighborhood. Both of those shows saw impressive turnouts, sure, but neither saw their spaces as packed out as things were over at The Nightmare, where hip-hop duo Sore Losers headlined the evening and drew as large a crowd as we've ever seen in that room. And it wasn't just a crowded room, either—it was an all-out enthused one, with its dwellers completely enamored with the headlining act. As the duo of 24-year-old Brandon Blue and 23-year-old Vincent Brown ran through an after-midnight set of its alternative rock- and dance music-indebted beats and highly lyrical verses, the crowd rapped along—danced, too—and cheered these up-and-comers like they were touring acts they'd been waiting to see come through town for months.
It wasn't your run-of-the-mill local hip-hop show by any stretch of the imagination.
It wasn't a group of rappers grabbing the microphone at an already-crowded club and rattling off a couple of verses.
It wasn't your standard hip-hop head show either, with conscious rap-obsessed audiences deriding the state of radio and trying too hard to feign interest in the blasé performers' tired old tricks.
This was something new. Something different. Sore Losers' two energetic performers were riding on a different vibe, backed by a full (and, for once, competent) backing band. And it just felt right—so much so that no one even batted an eye when, as Brown and Blue walked off stage, their backing band launched into a cover of Coldplay's "Clocks."
Those paying attention to the local underground hip-hop scene shouldn't be surprised. Over the past few years, as the Boogie garnered all the national attention, this scene, which blends lyrical hip-hop with an innovative indie-rock appeal, has been steadily improving its efforts and earning more and more fans along the way. Look no further than Damaged Good$, a mostly electronic-influenced duo that has become a big draw in dance circles because of its party-starting live shows. Or take A.Dd+, the newest duo to this scene, which, on its soon-to-be-released debut full-length, When Pigs Fly, combines this same lyrical agility with an even grimier beat appeal, courtesy of producer Picnic, formerly of PPT and, most recently, a member of Erykah Badu's Cannabinoids.
And then there are Sore Losers, who are likely the most accessible of this talented bunch. In recent shows, like Sunday night's performance, the duo proved itself a full-on force to be reckoned with, combining the volume and visceral nature of a rock show (minus the standard live hip-hop band cheese) with a palpable amount of party hip-hop exhilaration.
It's fun, for sure. More important, though, is the fact that it's different. Their February-released mixtape, Free Loaders: The Soundtrack, finds the duo rapping over beats that sample everything from MGMT and Ratatat to Peter, Bjorn & John,
"I listen to all kinds of music," says Blue, the producer half of the duo, of his group's inspiration. "And I feel like everyone should. You should have something besides just hip-hop in your life. It's just natural for us [to sound like this]."
It's paying off, too. Over the summer, Blue moved to Los Angeles to network outside of the market and make sure there exists an audience for his group's efforts outside of Dallas. He soon found out that, indeed, there is. And, actually, that was the point of Sunday night's show: Out in L.A., Blue had made contact with the people who help choose which music earns placement on ESPN; with the network in town this weekend for Monday Night Football's Cowboys-Giants game, they'd asked Blue and Brown to set up a showcase where they could see the band perform in a live setting and gauge audience reaction. Given the adoring vibe of the room on Sunday night, it's safe to say that those executives left impressed—just as those who are slowly finding out about the local underground hip-hop scene are learning on a near daily basis.
Because, you see, the Boogie may be dead, but Dallas hip-hop's still on the rise. It might even be healthier than ever.
"I love what's happening," Blue says. "It's just a great alternative to the Boogie scene. Dallas needs it. And the turnouts at our recent shows prove it. People are ready for something else."