On paper, it's easy to trace the ascent of Arrias Walls and Dionte Rembert. Since the 2010 release of When Pigs Fly, the debut album from A.Dd+, the duo, who go by Paris Pershun and Slim Gravy, respectively, have opened for Erykah Badu, Big K.R.I.T. and Wu-Tang Clan. They were part of a Red Bull-sponsored trip around Texas, in which they were mentored by Paul Wall, Chingo Bling and Bun B. Plenty of ink has been spilled in praise of Pigs, including mentions from national entities such as Spin, Pitchfork and XXL. Currently, they are in the midst of a national tour, opening for Detroit emcee Black Milk. Dallas hip-hop has rarely enjoyed this type of attention.
In reality, though, it's tempting to say A.Dd+ came out of nowhere, especially for those who expect to hear about local rap from the radio or the club. Sure, some luck has been involved, but an examination of the all-star team behind this group shows they've been in the warehouse for the past two years, gluing wings on pigs and teaching them to get off the ground.
Their passion and determination were apparent from the first time they reached out to now-manager Rosalinda Ruiz, who was at the time working for a local studio called The 808. "So we're having a meeting in the main production room, and they just get up and start performing," she says. "I didn't ask them to perform, they just started. They did an original song they had written a capella and I thought, 'Wow, these guys are special.'"
Ruiz shared the duo's passion and determination, and immediately learned to record, getting their early material down on weekends so as not to interfere with studio business. The result was 2009's Power of the Tongue mixtape.
"None of us knew what we were doing," Ruiz recalls.
But things were set in motion, and the three became inseparable. "I had never intended on being a manager," she continues. "Ever. Now my everyday life is revolving around A.Dd+." Picnictyme of PPT fame was brought on to produce Pigs. DJ Sober became their official turntablist. They started to play shows. A lot of them. In the two years since the release of When Pigs Fly, A.Dd+ have managed to rock more than 150 gigs in Houston, Austin, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Atlanta and all over DFW.
The maturity that comes with doing that many shows translates in person. Paris acts as the solid anchor, a bulletproof emcee who strolls the stage with a reserved and measured confidence. "I ain't gonna lie, this is exactly what I expected," he says when asked if he thought A.Dd+ would be this big this time last year. Conversely, Slim serves as the muse of craziness, a live wire who radiates effortless style. He wields a power on stage that comes with a penchant for the unexpected, whether it be the increasingly popular hip-hop stage dive or his sometimes outlandish get-ups.
A.Dd+ currently sit atop a pile of talented underground rappers who call Dallas home, and their success only strengthens a community by forcing people to pay attention. "I think it's coming about very nicely," Slim says of the local hip-hop scene. "The talent is starting to take over and the listeners are actually starting to be more supportive."
And they understand their role in helping other up-and-comers: "I think we brought hope to people out here, seeing that we're just two niggas who came from ridin' the damn bus to doing all this shit," Slim continues.
The musical comparison the duo most often hears puts them one step closer to that rarefied air.
"People compare them to OutKast," says Ruiz. "It's a cool comparison but there's space for them in the history books because they do offer something different."