Feature Stories

Carter High Could Propel Dallas Rapper Dorrough to the Big Leagues

Dorrough probably could have been in the NBA. He played basketball in high school with several people who became professional athletes. But by the time he was a senior he had refocused on hip-hop music and decided to switch gears. But Dorrough wasn’t through with sports. And now, after a career that's seen him earn a platinum single and become friends with Mark Cuban, Dorrough may be propelled to his biggest success yet with the help of a legendary Oak Cliff high school football team.

In this day and age, there are countless avenues beyond radio and music videos for music to gain exposure. Dorrough has capitalized on that fact by cross-promoting his music with sports like few others have done — possibly better than anyone. His songs have been played in stadiums and during sports highlights on the news. Sports fans who don’t even listen to hip-hop like Dorrough after hearing his music during Cowboys, Mavericks and Rangers games.

Dorrough’s musical connections to the sports world started in 2009. After creating a regional buzz with mixtapes and singles for a few years, the Dallas native scored a national hit with “Ice Cream Paint Job,” a single that first blew up in California and went platinum. The song was so big on the West Coast that it was frequently played during Dodgers games. “They had it on their website and they would come out to it,” Dorrough says. “I think that’s how it got to the Texas Rangers,” Dorrough muses. “Obviously they played the Dodgers.” Sure enough, the song eventually made its way into Globe Life Park during Rangers games as well.

In 2011, Dorrough returned to his roots in basketball through his music. His single “Bounce That” gathered enough momentum to get the attention of the Mavericks, who started putting it in steady rotation during games. Dorrough recalls hearing his music at games and in the background when he watched the Mavericks on television. Mark Cuban, the team’s owner, was even willing to get personally involved with hip-hop.
When Dorrough’s songs started getting played at American Airlines Center, he became friends with people involved with the Mavericks. Eventually he was formally introduced to Cuban, who was a fan of his music. Dorrough just happened to be shooting a music video for his song, “Get Big,” and offered the billionaire a cameo. “He thought it was dope,” says Dorrough. Cuban did not need to be convinced to make his debut in a music video for a hip-hop song, and even seemed excited to do it. “Mark Cuban’s a cool dude,” Dorrough adds. “He’s probably the most laid-back dude I ever met.” They met up the following weekend and shot Cuban’s scene.

Dorrough’s buzz in the sports world grew even bigger in 2013, when the Cowboys selected his song “Our Time” as its official theme song for the year, using it as walkout music and for promotion. Dorrough even shot the music video at Cowboys Stadium. “There’s nothing bigger than the Cowboys,” says Dorrough. “That was one of my personal biggest achievements. I grew up a big Cowboys fan.” He had yet another song, “Beat Up the Block,” playing at Cowboys games last year.

Now Dorrough has been asked to help promote a film that brings him even closer to the heart of the Dallas sports world. Greg Ellis, a retired football player who was with the Cowboys, is now an executive producer for the upcoming film about David W. Carter High School in Oak Cliff. “We always felt like it would be really cool and unique to have him be a part of this project,” says Ellis. “When we had the opportunity to bring him in to work on the project it was a no-brainer and we decided to incorporate his song into the trailer. It was just a natural fit and we felt like it can empower the movie and compel people to the story.”
Carter High is based on the true story of one of the greatest — and most controversial — high school football teams of all time, which won the Texas state championship in 1988 before later being stripped of the title. Ellis commissioned a song from Dorrough to help attract attention to the film. After watching the movie, he recorded the song “Go Season” at Legacy Music Group in Deep Ellum. The song is featured in the film’s trailer and Dorrough will be making an appearance on ESPN in the next few weeks to discuss it and the film. “Go Season” has beats that resemble drums in high school marching bands and the sound of a referee’s whistle. “It sounds like you’re at a football game,” says Dorrough. “It sounds like a football stadium inside a club.”

Dorrough is friends with Deion Sanders, who has played his music on the NFL Network for years. He is preparing to shoot a web series, also using the title Go Season, for Sean Combs’ Revolt TV. Each episode will feature a different professional athlete, and Dorrough trying to keep up with their workout routines. The list of his connections with sports and the different platforms sports have provided his music goes on and on.

“What’s happening right now in hip-hop is a lot of people are doing things that have never been done,” says Dorrough. “Hip-hop is influential. It’s really becoming the new rock 'n' roll. It’s the norm.” Indeed, Dorrough has done a pretty good job of exemplifying this himself after bringing his music to a massive mainstream audience of sports fans. “That’s the power of music,” he says. “When you make it, you never know how far it will go.” Or where it will go.
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Jeremy Hallock