Big Tuck's Welcome To Dallas.
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.
Dallas has been a big player in the blues and country music scenes since the '20s. More recently, though, our city has developed a fairly rich and somewhat underreported underground hip-hop scene.
It has evolved heavily since the late '80s, when The D.O.C. (or Doc-T as he was called then) was performing with West Dallas' Fila Fresh Crew. It was around that same time that Jeff Liles — now the artistic director at The Kessler — became the first person to every play N.W.A. on the radio back when he hosted a late night show on KNON-89.3 FM.
But we digress.
In '06, Dallas rapper Big Tuck released the album The Absolute Truth. Like much of his output, the album contains several references to Dallas. But the song “Welcome to Dallas” seemed to say more about our city than perhaps any of his other tracks.
The song begins with a spoken word bit in which Tuck expresses his interest in introducing the listener to his hometown, which he refers to as “Danger City.” Right off the bat, he comes in with the hook, where he lets one know that, on the north side, “you will get murd-ad.” He spits this lyric quite matter-of-factly.
And why not? Tuck, who was 27 at the time of the song's release, had seen a lot in his nearly three decades of growing up here. With the number of murders in Dallas more than double that of the national average, violent crime starts to become a way of life — or at the very least something one starts becoming numb to. Here's some further evidence: While one's chance of being a victim of a violent crime in Texas is one in 222, those odds dramatically increase to one in 130 when one moves to Dallas.
To further drive his point home, Tuck begins the first verse with one of the more bold statements one will ever hear in a hip-hop song: “We so for real hurr, presidents get killed hurr.” He uses the '63 assassination of President John F. Kennedy as evidence of our city's long-standing history of violence. It's a pretty effective image. If even the leader of the free world is not safe here, what chance does anyone else stand?
But violence is not something Tuck runs from.
Instead, he opts to embrace it, adopting the kill-them-before-they-get-a-chance-to-kill-you mentality. He makes remarks about teardrop tattoos and offers up repeated references to shooting guns, such as “This is my city / We'll shoot 'til it's empty.”
Yet the violence doesn't make him want to leave or even cause him to speak disparagingly against his hometown. It's quite the contrary, actually. In a sort of twisted way, “Welcome to Dallas” is a song about pride at its heart, as evidenced by lines such as “Never been to Dallas, then you ain't never been to Texas.”
Interestingly, despite being one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, Dallas has never really managed to sustain a hugely successful hip-hop scene. Also of note? The Absolute Truth was Big Tuck's first full-length studio release after signing a deal with Universal Records in '05. That same deal saw his hip-hop group Dirty South Rydaz also signing to Universal. Towards the end of the song, he drops the “Wait 'til you meet Fat and Lil' Ronnie, Double and Tum Tum” line, referring to the remaining DSR members. His push to get some additional shine for the Dallas underground hip-hop scene did end up proving to be somewhat successful. Since The Absolute Truth's release, several other Dallas rappers, including Lil Wil, the GS Boyz, B-Hamp and Dorrough, have all appeared nationally on Billboard's charts. Dorrough's “Ice Cream Paint Job” even made it as high as No. 27 on Billboard's Hot 100 and was certified platinum by the RIAA.
If Dallas hip-hop continues to build, Tuck's '06 anthem could be remembered as the song that introduced the rest of the country to our scene.