As I sit in the pilot seat of a heavily tinted silver Suburban, Tum Tum engulfs the seat next to me, recounting his performance that night for a boisterous Denton crowd. Suddenly there is knock on the passenger side door. Tum cautiously cracks the window just wide enough to talk. "Can I get a picture with you?" asks an eager fan.
While Tum poses for the picture, an argument suddenly breaks out in the parking lot, where an unidentified man brandishes a handgun in his general direction. Unfazed, Tum confronts the man, eventually resolving the situation while holding his ground, with his entire entourage surrounding him.
That was 2008, and these larger-than-life stories, coupled with an equally Texas-sized stature, have solidified his status in Dallas hip-hop history. Recently signing to up-and-coming Dallas-based label Hulk Entertainment, Tum has since been re-energized, embarking on a new chapter with his recent "Yeah Doe" single, featuring fellow labelmates Dorrough and B-Hamp. When asked about the new deal, Tum said, "I just wanted to elevate what I was doing and take it to the next level...I signed with them and two months after that, I look up and I was on TV. Two months after that, I was in New York negotiating."
"Yeah Doe" has quickly gained the support of the blogosphere and DJs across the country, delivering a powerful punch over rolling snares and a menacing 808, produced by California- based producer Bux, who was discovered by Mason "Bric" LaDue, Tum's A&R and right-hand man. "That's what be wild about everything," Tum said of the connection. "People say social networks don't work. Social networks really do work!"
From an outsider's perspective, Dallas music has always been synonymous with boogie, a subgenre of Southern hip-hop music. As of late, we've seen the rise of new hip-hop artists like A.Dd+. "There's a whole lot of different music out here now and I love that," Tum says. "Nobody sounds like each other. There's a whole lot of music out here people can adapt to instead of focusing on one part."
If you visit T-Town Records, inside the Bruton Mart on Prairie Creek Road, you'll still find two worn green velvet pool tables in the center of the room, where Tum Tum used to hang out and freestyle with his peers during the day. Pictures of Tum and T-Town owner George Lopez, who gave him his first big break almost ten years ago, adorn the walls.
While fans of Dallas hip-hop still lament the rise and fall of Texas super group DSR, Tum Tum is busy writing a new chapter, reminding us that there's more to his story than the page we've nostalgically been stuck on. Besides, he's the only one left standing.
Have you always felt comfortable in your own skin? To tell you the truth, yes. I don't know where I get the confidence from, the swag, that boss, that machismo. I always had it though.
Do you believe money is the root of all evil? Nah, I think what you do with it, or what you do to get it, is. To tell you the truth, it's what you do when you get the money.
Is there one that got away? Yeah... always, man. This music is so important to me though, man. I'll catch her later, though.
What is the best advice you could give to your younger self? Man... whoa, that's a good one. Kicking it with my family more. Real talk. I'm always trying to be gone. I'm always on the run. I should just sit down sometimes and kick it with a lot of people that passed away or probably went to jail or something.
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When flying on an airplane, do you prefer the window or aisle seat? The aisle seat. If I sit by the window, I'm letting it down because I'm scared of heights.
Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Yeah, you can tell how I feel by my facial reactions.
What do you want the world to know about Tum Tum? One of the coolest dudes you'll ever meet, real talk, and one of the chillest. Never find a friend like me!