Sir Mix-a-Lot's Jump On It.
There are a ton of songs about or inspired by Dallas, and they say a lot about who we are. So each week in this space, we'll take a closer week at one of these songs — and we'll try to determine what, exactly, they say about this great city of ours. Check out this feature's archives here.
The year was 1992. All eyes were on the grunge scene that was then bubbling over out in Seattle. But that, of course, only tells part of Seattle's music story from that year.
Just five months after Nirvana released their masterwork Nevermind, another Seattle-based act, Sir Mix-a-Lot, would release a popular album all his own. Much like Nevermind, Mix-a-Lot's third release, Mack Daddy, would become something of a seminal album in its own right. If nothing else, that album's lead single, “Baby Got Back,” would go on to become a pop culture fixture forevermore.
Though Mix-a-Lot's largely considered a one-hit wonder these days, the rapper's fourth album, 1994's Chief Boot Knocka, would reach as high as No. 69 on the Billboard 200 and receive a nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance at the Grammys.
Far less successful, though, was the emcee's fifth album: 1996's Return of the Bumpasaurus never cracked the charts anywhere. But while the album is but a footnote to all but the most steadfast Sir Mix-a-Lot fans, it is a notable release — at least around these parts — thanks to the song “Jump On It,” which has a thing or two it's able to tell us about Dallas.
Very early on in the song, Mix-a-Lot asks no one in particular “What's up Dallas? What's up?” From that point, there's no denying that the rhymes that follow are, at least in part, about the Big D.
At another point he even throws in the line “Welcome to the 2-1-4,” a nod to the Dallas area code — a history which we've touched upon in another edition of this column.
Interestingly enough, at the time of the song's release, 214 was the city's only area code — although not by much. Dallas' 972 area code was created on September 14, 1996, less than a month after Return of the Bumpasaurus' August 27 release.
Another line then mentions the Dallas Cowboys' rivalry with Mix-a-Lot's “team from the Bay.” Though the Cowboys' rivalry with the San Francisco 49ers has since cooled off, it was very much more heated back in those days: For three straight years — from 1992 to 1994 — the two teams wound up facing off in the NFC's Conference Championship.
Mix-a-Lot's love for Texas knows no bounds, though. In the song's opening verse, he also mentions San Antonio, Austin and Houston — but not before dropping one more useful nugget about Dallas.
Mix-a-Lot — self-proclaimed as the “brother with a gut” — tells his listeners he just can't leave Dallas without stopping by his favorite seafood joint. So, in the song, he calls up one of his old female friends in town, and asks if she could take them both to Pappadeaux.
Although the first Pappadeaux was created in Houston, Dallas has its fair share of ties to the chain, as well as the Pappas Restaurants empire as a whole. Of the 33 total Pappadeaux locations in the US, 10 are located in Dallas and 11 can be found in Houston. In fact, only eight locations exist outside of Texas. But we'd argue that, if Mix-a-Lot's song came out several years prior or later than 1996, he would have most likely been singing a completely different tune.
Since the late '70s, the Pappas family has opened over eight unique restaurant brands with over 80 locations spread across the southwest.
Pappadeaux, unfortunately, was not one of the first concepts the family of restaurateurs tried their hands at. In 1982, Barnum & Bailey Circus owner Judge Roy Rofheinz died, leaving behind tons of old circus memorabilia, which was purchased at auction by members of the Pappas family and later used to decorate a new Houston restaurant they were opening called Circus. The restaurant, which featured live magicians and clowns, eventually became the first Pappadeaux.
This was far from the only re-branding the company ever had to do, though. The year “Jump On It” was released, Jim Pappas gambled on a new concept called Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. The upscale steakhouse opened that year on the site of the former Strawberry Patch in Houston. That Strawberry Patch concept — an American-style bistro — was the first restaurant Pappas opened in 1976. It closed in 1993.
When Pappas Bros. opened, the upscale restaurant, which featured a cigar bar and a massive wine selection, took the company to a new level. Two years later, Dallas got a Pappas Bros. Steakhouse of its own. The Dallas spot featured 1,600 different wines on its menu when it opened. And, to be sure, wine is an important aspect of that brand: Of all the accolades the restaurant has received — Pappas Bros. Steakhouse was named Texas Monthly's best steakhouse in Texas in 2007 — most have been directly tied to the eatery's mind-boggling wine selection.
To that end, Pappas Bros. is the only restaurant in Dallas to employ a Master Sommelier, an Advanced Sommelier and two certified sommeliers as full-time wine professionals. While that may seem overly decadent, there is indeed a level of expertise needed to navigate the restaurant's 33,000-bottle wine cellar, which contains some bottles than span back decades.
That extensive beverage program, it should be noted, is headed up by Barbara Werley, who in 1997, became one of the first women to complete the Master Sommelier program. She remains one of only 18 women in the world to have achieved the title. Surprisingly, though, she's not the only woman in Dallas to have earned the achievement: Melissa Monosoff gave Dallas its second female Master Sommelier in 2010 — tying Dallas, in that regard, to Southgate, Michigan, in the female sommelier game. Only San Francisco has more, boasting three.
And that's an impressive honor, for sure. As part of their three-part exam, Master Sommeliers are asked to “identify, where appropriate, grape varieties, country of origin, district and appellation of origin, and vintages of the wines tasted.” Since its inception in 1973, only 129 North Americans have passed the Master Sommelier Diploma Exam. Only seven of those were from Texas.
That level of expertise, no doubt, helped Pappas. Bros. Steakhouse become the only restaurant in Dallas (and one of only 73 in the entire country) to have earned Wine Spectator magazine's Grand Award.
And, really, that sort of helps drive home our earlier point: Perhaps, if Sir Mix-a-Lot sat down to pen this song a couple years later, he'd more than likely have preferred to “flex his Lexus” at the illustrious steakhouse rather than the Pappas family's mid-grade seafood restaurant.
Hey, it isn't that far of a stretch. “Pappa Bros.,” in fact, would still fit in with the song's rhyme scheme.