Kevin "Tunk" Arradondo is not afraid to tell you that he's been broke all of this life, and on his latest mixtape, Direct Deposit, he does many times.
"I'm not tryin to sit here and lie on the record. Sooner or later that can be your downfall," says the 23 year old Midlothian resident, "I'm the baby of seven boys. My mama struggled her whole life to raise us. My stepdad worked harder than a bitch for $9.50 an hour at a hospital."
It's a refreshing attitude to see from a rapper, but Tunk is a refreshing individual. If you caught him before he went on stage at Poor Vida's last Sunday Sessions weekly at The Green Elephant, you'd have seen a quiet & laid back young man watching the Super Bowl amongst his friends and fiancée. He's humble, with seemingly no concern towards being the center of attention. If you hadn't heard his music before, you'd never know the energy that he was about to bring to that stage.
Tunk is known predominantly to the public as the featured artist on summer 2011's A.Dd+ banger, "Jumper Cables" (and more recently as an opener for the duo's recent huge album release show). It's the track that started it all, as he puts it. Local rap heads however, are more acquainted with his impressive solo catalog, and know him as one of the city's most underrated emcees. That may change with the release of Direct Deposit. The follow up mixtape to 2011's No Defeat, and the predecessor to the upcoming LP No Defeat 2 is 15 strong tracks deep. By quality and quantity, you'd never know that Direct Deposit took such a short time to produce.
"Just cause I wasn't able to hit the studio like I wanted to, [Direct Deposit] took me three months... it was really all building up to my album... A lot of people don't know that. I decided it push [No Defeat 2] back and whipped up Direct Deposit for the fans."
An undeniable honesty to his lyricism and subject matter, a velvety-smooth delivery in his flow, and production style so traditionally Southern without sounding dated or stale all make Tunk's music stand out from his peers. In terms of his process, it's unique to see such a talented solo artist in a city filled with groups and crews. If you haven't been keeping up with him, you may be surprised to know that he was actually tapped to be in the original lineup of the now widely revered Dallas collective, Brain Gang.
"I still have people who push and support me, but they understand that I wanted to do this shit solo because I have a story to tell", he said of his multiple attempts as a group member over the years.
Even if you have been keeping up with him, you still may be surprised to learn that music is actually a family affair for Tunk. One of his older brothers had a well received single in 2006 under the name Bossaliny, which picked up quite a bit of steam in it's time. When asked what his biggest goal and motivating force was in his career, Tunk revealed that at the end of the day it's all about family for him.
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"I have a brother who's been in jail since I was four years old. He's really like one of my main inspirations. When he gets out, there's no world for a convict... unless you get your CDL license and hit the road. So I want to provide. And I know he may not accept everything I have to give to him, but he'll respect the fact that I laid it all out on the line for this rap shit. I'm doing this because I have mouths to feed."
Debuting "Glory" with us today off of the forthcoming No Defeat 2, Tunk aims to thank his listeners for their support. The album doesn't currently have a tentative release date, but he will be dropping singles as copies of Direct Deposit drop. Keep an eye on this guy, it's going to be just as exciting to watch him make his city proud, as it will be to watch him make his family proud.
"Glory" produced by Breeze the Beat Machine by Tunk