Dirty South Rydaz are the product of another time, another Dallas. Once signed to Universal Records, they were one of this city's most influential hip hop groups, at a time when local artists didn't always get the support they deserved and the rappers were overshadowed by more successful counterparts in Houston. After five years away, Dirty South Rydaz have decided to make a new album together and theirs, in many ways, is the story of Dallas hip hop.
To accurately tell the story of Dirty South Rydaz you'd also have to know the career arch of George Lopez. Back in 1994 Lopez opened his record shop, T-Town Music. Subsequently, this spawned a career handling regional marketing, promotions and distribution for No Limit, Rap-A-Lot, Swisha House and several other record labels.
After releasing the compilation albums North 2 Tha South and I-45 via his own music imprint also named T-Town Music, Lopez decided to form a rap group. In 2001 Lopez was the maestro of the Voltron-like assembly of what would become Dirty South Rydaz (DSR). Comprised of rappers Big Tuck, Tum Tum, Double T, Fat B, Lil' Ronnie and Addiction, the group would release an onslaught of albums and mixtapes both collectively and as solo artist over the next 10 years.
From the '80s on up until the early 2000's Dallas had an infamous reputation for not fully supporting its own artists. Typically, musicians had to go elsewhere, build a following and return with accolades for their hometown to fully pay attention. Ask Stevie Ray Vaughn, rest his soul, or ask D.O.C. The DSR collective however, feel this is somewhat true and false.
"I saw it different because I did [support Dallas music]," says Tum Tum. "So I never saw what people were talking about, 'cause I bought K-Roc, Mr. Pookie, Lucci. I went to their shows when I was in high school. I really fucked with it."
Fat B agrees: "We'd go up to Big T (Bizarre) and be like, 'Hey check out my CD,' and sometimes there'd be hating going on and I'd tell them just take the CD for free. By the next time we'd see them, they'd be looking for volume two."
According to Big Tuck, the grassroots support from was always strong, but to obtain a higher level of respect they had to succeed in other areas outside the Dallas city limits.
"(In Dallas) We started out going to the streets first and the radio stations eventually have to play what the streets want to hear anyway," Tuck explains. "But we started branching out in Cleveland and Florida, so when it looked like we were doing something out there other people got on the bandwagon."
DSR's foray into music coincided with the meteoric rise of several Houston rappers obtaining major label success. Houston had the nation in the palm of its hands and the market was saturated with artists from the city of "Syrup". Although the two cities are geographical rivals, it could be argued that most of the latent animosity exists primarily amongst the fans: DSR unanimously credited several Houston artists as mentors who opened several doors when they started.
"We were on the road with all of them; that's how we got our exposure," says Lil' Ronnie. Back to back they all recounted numerous stories about how their first big shows and album features were with Houston artists and said they still have good relationships with all of them to this day. "They showed us how to hustle, to tell you the truth. I still get game from them," says Tum Tum.
Apparently, the new DSR album originated through a project Fat B and Tum Tum were working on called "Respect It Or Check It II". They decided to seize the momentum and reached out to the other members. "We got together, then called George, called Addiction, called everybody and just got it going," explains Tum Tum. "It was just time because everyone keep asking for one (album) everywhere you go. We're just giving the fans what they want."
To supply the tracks for the new project, DSR enlisted long-time collaborator NorB as well as some young up-and-coming Dallas producers. B-Genius, East Dallas Esses, Keist, 357 and several others from around the city made the final cut.
Despite the hiatus, DSR say they haven't had any chemistry issues. "This shit is like Pimp C and Bun B," Tum Tum declares. "We do a record and throw that bitch in the trash and get on to the next one". The room erupts with laughter.
In terms of the biggest difference they see in the industry now as opposed to when they started, the group says it's obvious that the internet and social media has been the biggest game changer. "We had to do everything ourselves the hard way as far as reaching fans," remembers Addiction. But, as Double-T points out, it has presented both opportunity and obstacles for artists. "Social media is also what killed the budgets," he says. "We were probably one of the last groups to get a large budget when we signed."
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In turn, DSR feels while there are more resources available for artist to market themselves today it's also more difficult to set yourself apart from the crowd. They advise young artists to be themselves and stay true to the vision they have for their craft.
The entire team appears to be focused and as just as hungry as they were when they inked their first deal. All energy is being directed on fine tuning the new album and booking shows for this summer. The first of which will be a big concert at Trees on May 9th which will kick off several promo shows for the new album and will also be the first time DSR as a complete group has performed at the historical venue. In the meantime we'll stay tuned and see how the latest chapter unfolds for the veteran rap group.
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