You may not know hip-hop artist Eno $tripez or his music, but there is a pretty good chance you have seen his viral video, not even realizing it was shot in North Texas. Last Friday afternoon, he was pulled over by a police officer while driving in Mesquite. Riding shotgun was another Dallas-Fort Worth hip-hop artist, $kaduf, who started filming the exchange between $tripez and the officer. The 30-second clip that millions of people watched online has been presented as a guy getting out of a ticket because “a fat ass” distracted him. But things aren’t that simple.
Months ago, $tripez recorded a cypher with $kaduf and several others at Rockit Lab Studios. Several people packed into the room, passing a joint around. $kaduf decided against partaking, hilariously proclaiming the smell was, “Louder than a ho.” $tripez was obviously an intense personality. He was unpredictable with a great sense of humor. But everyone looked at each other wide-eyed when he took his turn in the vocal booth.
$tripez had been asked to stack his vocal tracks, but he really didn’t need more than one take. Every layer he added was crazier than the last until his contribution was a maniacal haunted house of mirrors. $tripez has a raw voice that cuts right through you and demands a response. It really makes you wonder where he is coming from.
Fast-forward to last Friday night. $tripez — who is preparing to release his debut album, San Andreas, later this month — was at the Crown and Harp with $kaduf watching Atom & EV play a set. They were laughing and pointing at a video on an iPhone. The music was too loud for them to get across exactly what they were saying, but a glance at the screen gave a general idea. Later on, $tripez sat back in a booth charging his phone, watching fights and all sorts of ridiculous short videos on sites like World Star Hip Hop.
Less than 24 hours later, over a million people had watched the video of $tripez’s encounter with a Mesquite police officer on a Facebook page called Media Takeout. The video has now received over 4 million views on that page alone and has also been posted on countless other sites. Many viewers left negative comments towards $tripez because he referred to the officer as a “bitch ass n*****” after he walked away.
Lieutenant Brian Parrish from the Mesquite Police Department was very disappointed once he had a chance to view the video. “That officer behaved in exactly the way I would expect him to,” Parrish says. “He wasn’t overly stiff and didn’t act like he was above anybody. He was trying to do what he has to, which is enforcing the law, and along the way he was trying to make a connection. But they unfortunately didn’t act very appropriately.”
The department takes suggestions from a training advisory board made up of citizens, all of which are female: one white, one African-American and one Mexican-American. “We wanted to make sure we had appropriate representation so we have that connection to our neighborhoods,” Parrish says.
There is also a Mesquite Citizen’s Police Academy that has doubled in size over the past two years, again consisting of a diverse group of individuals to properly represent the city. “It’s difficult to get minorities to come apply,” Parrish admits. He’s not sure why, but every summer he chooses school resource officers, always minorities, to recruit people other than white men, who the department never has any trouble attracting. “We try really hard,” Parrish continues. “My team goes specifically to black and Hispanic functions. And we will only send out people to Hispanic functions who speak Spanish.”
Parrish says that officers have the discretion to decide whether or not a citation is warranted, but adds that they have usually made up their minds before they even interact with drivers. “The purpose is to try and keep future violations from occurring,” Parrish says. He also says he actually plans to commend the officer next time he sees him.
Raised near Pleasant Grove, $tripez comes from harsh beginnings he mostly prefers to avoid getting into. But one of his earliest memories of the police was when his brother was driving to his grandfather’s funeral. His brother was arrested for a warrant he had already served time for, causing him, $tripez and their mother to miss the funeral. He cites many other grievances over the years, including his brother going to jail four years ago for some “he-said, she-said shit.”
“But I don’t have a problem with cops,” $tripez insists, even pointing out that his former manager is a cop. He makes a fair point by saying that many people, regardless of race, say something similar when a police officer walks away after pulling them over. “That’s anybody,” $tripez continues. “The camera just happened to be on. It was a joke.”
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According to $tripez, the officer followed his car for several minutes and pulled him over because he had made a turn from the wrong lane. He says the video picks up after the officer had asked him several questions, some of which were repeated several times. “The cop was cool,” $tripez admits. “But I do think he was trying to find something on me.”
This is an incident that shows how complicated this issue of police interacting with citizens has become in this day and age. It certainly isn’t something a 30-second video can shed much light on. Based on their own experiences, some do not have the most favorable view of police. But on the other hand, the police are trying to do a difficult job while facing an incredible amount of public scrutiny, sometimes based on simplistic narratives.
“I think everyone needs to look at each other with a little bit of compassion,” Parrish says. “And we need to really think about things before we say them.”
ENO $TRIPEZ will perform with $kaduf on a bill that also features Picnictyme and Field Guide at 9 p.m. tonight, Thursday, February 11, at Three Links, 2704 Elm St., $7.