After years' worth of his original music was stolen from his backpack at the end of September, it would’ve been understandable for local rapper So-So Topic (or -Topic for short) to wallow in his own sorrow. After all, three weeks later he still hasn’t gotten the music back — despite offering a $1,000 reward. Instead, -Topic did was he does best. He made music, first at a benefit show last Friday and now with a new song, “Why You Take My Backpack.”
The benefit concert, which took place Oct. 14 at Trees, was organized by Trees marketing director Gavin Mulloy. While the show was specifically organized to help -Topic, who says he lost two albums of material in the theft, it was also an incredible display of the local hip-hop community. Sam Lao, Dezi 5, Bobby Sessions, Buffalo Black, Cure for Paranoia and a number of other local artists all performed. Even Leon Bridges was there, although he didn’t perform.
-Topic also took the opportunity of the show to debut “Why You Take My Backpack,” which he performed twice, in two completely different guises, on Friday night. He subsequently released a studio recording of one of the versions of the song online Monday night, which was produced by JetWolf and features artwork from Joonbug.
On the song, -Topic sings over his own bass guitar about how “this dude snatched my backpack.” He explains what happened with a spastic flow that combines rapping and singing. “Like, damn, I was chillin’ in the cut until you grabbed my backpack, housing a laptop, hard drive, sketchbooks, and a multitude of miscellaneous items with the primary contents included with the backpack,” he says.
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-Topic calls out the “jerk” who took his backpack, and tells the “ol’ lame ass, ol’ hoe ass boy” that “you suck,” before diving into a retelling of the events surrounding the theft, which took place during an open mic night at Drugstore Cowboy in Deep Ellum. At the show on Friday, he had the crowd sing along with him on the closing lines: “Police didn’t help. Surveillance didn’t help. Eff it then, I guess I’m stuck out here by myself.”
That’s the version of “Why You Take My Backpack” that he’s released — for free — but it wasn’t the only version he performed Friday. The second version of the song was performed back to back with the first, while -Topic allowed people in the room to record the first version, he ordered everyone to put away their phones for the second. When one woman didn’t, -Topic yelled at her playfully from the stage, “Put your phone up, fucker!” — and she quickly did.
Before kicking off the unreleased version, which was much harsher and more aggressive, -Topic had the crowd yell “Fuck Dwight!” referring to the guy who allegedly stole the backpack. (He did this multiple times throughout the night.) When he performed the second, rawer version live, -Topic was covered in sweat and screamed the lyrics, forcing the audience to feel his anger toward Dwight.
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Explaining why he only did the more emotional version live and didn’t release it, -Topic says, “I wanted something special for the people who paid real money to stand in a real venue to hear me really pour out pieces of me.” He says that in the unreleased version, “I wanted you to really feel the music in my head that I’d been holding but couldn’t express. ... I waited to cry, I waited to yell, and I just wanted people to be there with me for the moments we knew were meant to happen.”
While friends and members of the music community have rallied round him, there were some things on the drive that can’t be replaced — like a track -Topic made with Jordan “JoJo” Walker, who recently passed away. During his set at Trees, -Topic had a moment of silence for Walker.
-Topic is still running a GoFundMe to help him recover and replace what was stolen. But, he says, “Pity parties are still wack.”