Nine months after their messy public break up, popular Dallas hip-hop duo A.Dd+’s final project will receive a posthumous release later this month. The 12-song Nawf America, featuring a star-studded cast of local rappers and producers, is out Friday, Oct. 28 via their former label High Standardz. It’s the locally-acclaimed duo’s first official release since 2014’s Nawf EP.
Paris Pershun and Slim Gravy had grown up together in North Dallas and, during a six-year run as a group, they were one of the city's most celebrated acts, regularly winning Dallas Observer Music Awards and headlining local showcases. But last January their relationship devolved to a point of public name calling on social media and through the press — leaving them to part ways before Nawf America had ever seen release.
Feelings between the two former friends remain raw. “I haven’t listened to the [album] in like a year. I don’t even think about it. Why the fuck would I be excited about it?” Pershun says. “That shit means nothing to me.”
The end of A.Dd+ wasn’t just the end of a music endeavor; it also marked the end of a 13-year friendship. The two have not spoken in nearly a year. Both have worked on pursuing solo careers since the breakup.
Gravy is not as detached from the work, but shares some of the same sentiments as Pershun. “I have no attachment to [the album], but I’m glad everyone can hear it because I snapped on that hoe,” he says of Nawf America. “I don’t have any expectations for anything from it, but all I can say is that this is going to put some light back on me.”
The decision to release the album comes from J. Dot Jones and Vince Chapa, the founders of High Standardz. Chapa, who was also the group's day-to-day manager, says he hears from fans every time he goes out. “When I’m in Deep Ellum any night, people come up to me and ask about A.Dd+ and ask when the album is coming out. Some people don’t even know A.Dd+ broke up — they just want to hear new music,” Chapa says. “They’re one of the biggest acts in the city outside of hip-hop, just in general. They’re still winning awards even after they broke up.”
When they set out to make the record, it was an extension of sorts of the Nawf EP. On that five-song collection, Pershun and Gravy vividly painted a picture of the North Dallas neighborhood they grew up in together. On Nawf America, they continue that vivid storytelling and embark on an aural road trip experimenting with different sounds and exploring sonics true to Texas hip-hop, Atlanta’s trap anthems and the classic New York sound.
They drew on a wide-ranging cast of people across the album's 12 tracks, including producers Will Power, Medasin, Blue, the Misfit and Glo Gaines. Sarah Jaffe, Scar, Jaeson Green and Donny Domino make guest appearances on tracks, as well. Produced and recorded throughout 2015, Nawf America is a testament to the defunct duo’s lyrical abilities, rapping dexterity and what-could-have-been potential that Pershun and Gravy continuously displayed during their time together.
The version of the album set to release Oct. 28 is not, however, the final version Pershun and Gravy planned. When we spoke to the group last year as they were preparing its release there were still a lot of revisions to tracks and features planned. Shortly after, the two stopped speaking and the album remained in its current state.
“There was a plan behind this [album] and it would have been very positive for Dallas. There’s a lot of talent there and a lot of promise and A.Dd+ has been at the forefront because of the work they put in,” Jones says. He's sympathetic to Pershun and Gravy's feelings and acknowledges that the album is not as finalized as it could have been, but says that is out of their control because of the friction between the two artists. “This was going to be the first step for High Standardz to establish itself in the city as a legitimate label with distribution and resources to rollout some of this talent brick by brick and really build a fanbase in Dallas and build out. I think it’s important for their fans to hear it and support it.”
A.Dd+ had been one of the chief architects of contemporary Dallas hip-hop. When they formed in 2010,
they led a revolution that was a blunt rebuttal to the boogie movement that defined the scene for several years. Often referred to as Deep Ellum’s hipster rappers, A.Dd+ played a large role in developing the thriving underground hip-hop landscape the city sees today. 2011's When Pigs Fly caught the attention of Pitchfork and SPIN, the latter of which named the group one of the Best New Artists of 2012.
That buzz generated high expectations for their 2013 sophomore album DiveHiFlyLo, and while the music was celebrated locally including a monumental show at Granada Theater, the album failed to generate much buzz beyond the city following a 10-month delay on the album’s national release. 2014 and 2015 found A.Dd+ relatively quiet as they worked on new projects, but the anticipation for Nawf America came to nought as the relationship came apart by the beginning of this year.
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The record's belated release may finally bring some closure to fans of A.Dd+. Jones even hopes that Nawf America won't have to be the end of their story, after all. “I hope the fans will enjoy what they hear and understand why it sounds the way it sounds, but maybe even force these guys to work through their differences because they’re doing the market a disservice,” he says.
Nawf America will be available digitally across all platforms including Spotify and Apple Music.
1. 214 (Two-One-Four)
2. Hard ft. Jaeson Green
4. O.T.P. ft. Scar
5. Been Throwed/Swanglish Freestyle
6. Dallas, Flexas ft. Scar
7. All I Need ft. Sarah Jaffe & Jaeson Green
8. Ain’t Got Time
10. I’m Straight ft. Donny Domino
11. IV Ever (Immortals)
12. The Anthem