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Dallas-Fort Worth hip hop has a history, and now one of that history's main protagonists is trying to preserve it.

How Terry ‘Pikahsso’ Jones Just Might Save Local Hip Hop’s Soul

In his apartment just a short drive from DFW International Airport, Terry “Pikahsso” Jones begins telling me the history of Dallas-Fort Worth hip hop through the lens of his memory and experience. Hardly five minutes pass before Pikahsso is on his feet and pacing, unable to contain his nervous energy. He abandons all chronological linearity as his story pinballs around the events, places and people in his head, shifting in and out of decades.  The history of rap in the metroplex is a story Pikahsso tells with unflagging enthusiasm and pride, because, in the tradition of hip hop self-reference, it is his story too.

Listening to Pikahsso talk about DFW hip hop sounds less like a story than an Old Testament genealogy. He starts by rattling off about thirty names of rap groups and DJs, a base group of artists as standard in his mind as the periodic table of elements.  The full litany, which he posted on a diatribe in his Facebook group dedicated to DFW hip hop and has reposted in other forums, consists of 187 rap crews, MCs and DJs that all contributed to Dallas’s desultory scene. If you had to narrow it down to a Mount Rushmore group, Pikahsso would likely carve the faces of the rap crew Nemesis, MC Rappin’ Nookie, DJs Dr. Rock, Easy Eddie D, Ushy, and The D.O.C., who is perhaps Dallas’s most prominent hip hop export. These are the people he callsDallas’s “unsung heroes,” who existed before the days of worldwide communication.

Pikahsso puts Dallas hip hop’s halcyon days in the late 1980s, primarily because that’s when he discovered it for himself in Oak Cliff’s Kiest Park. It was there, at the age of thirteen, that Pikahsso saw DJ Dr. Funk and rappers, among them Rappin’ Nookie, putting on a show for the neighborhood. Those were the years when local kids still got their music at Oak Cliff’s Sound Warehouse and traded rhymes at roller rinks like Rocket and Shamrock.  The scene was helmed by rap group Nemesis and up-and-comers Fila Fresh Crew, who counted the very promising D.O.C. among its members.

Dallas’s hip hop story through the late ‘90s was thoroughly covered by Zac Crain in a 1998 Dallas Observer article. The story parallels, in graver tones, the same one Pikahsso tells. In Crain’s article, we learn about the scene’s fledgling years, its hopeful moments with The D.O.C. and again with Mad Flava, and its tenuous status at millennium’s end.  “Dallas hip-hop is like a UFO,” Crain wrote in 1998.  “Many people believe in it, but only a few have actually seen it.”

The situation hasn’t exactly improved. Pikahsso describes the current hip hop climate like a critical patient whose breath comes in labored, irregular heaves. The scene is up one moment and down the next, and it rarely builds on preceding momentum. One of the more recent surges came from Pikahsso himself and his collaboration with Picnic and Tahiti, which they called PPT.  By now, PPT’s accomplishments are well-documented. As recently as 2008, they were being hailed as Dallas’s newest hip hop messiahs. But the group retired under circumstances that Pikahsso is reticent to share. He does address the odd brilliance of their last album, Denglish, and its mixed reception.  “We tried to recreate ourselves with British personas, like the Black Beatles,” says Pikahsso.  “I think we made it a little too weird for people.”

Now, Pikahsso is trying to find a way forward by reaching backward. With his Facebook page and Youtube channel, he is trying to reinvigorate lost memories in the hopes that all the contributors fromDallas’s early years will not be forgotten. “People will think the history started in 2005 and it’s not true. We had our own Run DMCs, we had our own Public Enemies. We had our own, me.” This is where Pikahsso writes himself into the story as an area innovator. He slightly resists the claim, in the name of modesty, but insists on staking it in the name of accuracy. “The story has to be told correctly,” he says. “I ain’t saying I’m the only one, but I’m probably [at] the forefront of bringing eccentric, weird hip hop to Dallas.”

Pikahsso is not necessarily exaggerating. From the time he was beat-boxing as a student at Lincoln High to his local fame with PPT, Pikahsso has been one of the few constants in a fickle hip hop community with no clear identity. His years of work have resulted in a profile that, at best, is somewhere in the static level. Dallas, Pikahsso measures, doesn’t warm to eccentricity.  “This is a corporate, anal-retentive city.”

What Pikahsso wants to make a case for is simple deference, for MCs and DJs and artists in general to map their way back to the mid-80s in order to get a bearing on where they will go from here. “I think they should say Nemesis on the radio, have a ‘Nemesis Day,’ have a ‘Ron C Day.’” It’s a disputable premise, looking back to a scene that was accused of being overly derivative in order to refine your own identity. But to deny that history, derivative or not, is equally mistaken. Like family, you do not get to choose your ancestors and you have to walk in the impressions they made.

For now, Pikahsso is comfortable being cast as one of the caretakers of the DFW hip hop estate, even as he continues to work on his new project: Pikahsso & The Fabulous Verbadelycks. Yet he doesn’t want to give anyone the foolish notion that he’s retired. “I will always be a historian, I will always show love, and I will always eat MCs up on the mic,” Pikahsso asserts. “You get old in hip hop.  It happens. But you rap till you die.”

 

All photos by Sara Kerens

39 comments on “How Terry ‘Pikahsso’ Jones Just Might Save Local Hip Hop’s Soul

  1. Man Richie i really wanna thank you & D Magazine for all you done for me the response has been amazing & i really appreciate all the love man and also i wanna say thank you to Sara Kerens for the lovely photos.. i thank you from the bottom of my heart for this.

    PiKaHsSo

  2. This is TRUE Hip-Hop..!! I remember hearing of Pikahsso back in the days of Flava TV and Redrum Records… and to see the brotha still putting it down is refreshing in this day of commercialized rap music. Glad to say I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with the brotha and learning so much about the rich culture of the DFW Hip-Hop set via the FB DFW HipHop Group page where you can log on, join up, tune in and get your dose of true hip-hop.

  3. Great article, too bad everybody can’t be named, but, there would be NO Dallas Hip-Hop without DJ Willie Fressh and FreshRoc Productions along with the homie DJ Dallas Scratch and Nippy Jones…

  4. This article is sooooooo good! Pikahsso is well deserving of this groundbreaking article. He has done so much for the music scene. Much love to the DFW legends.

  5. Pikahsso, along with many others in the Metroplex, deserve much more respect and acclaim than they’ve gotten. Great article, great subject. ‘Nuff said.

  6. Being an artist myself and now an online jock, Pikahsso gets nothing but the utmost respect from all of us in the DFW Hip Hop scene. I have even much more respect for some of the artist he mentioned naming Nemesis. One of my main influences into wanting to become a radio jock was because of them cats. Snake, Big Al & Cassonova Roc gave Dallas what K104 & 100.3 Jamz didn’t…the East Coast! While other stations were spinning only a fraction of what was considered Hip Hop and not just Rap, Nemesis via KNON 89.3 & 90.9 gave us Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane & Public Enemy etc. Sure, we heard rap music on other stations but them brothers spinned the rawness on their show. Hip Hop echoed in Dallas like an after shock because what (RAP) meant for many was 2 Live Crew! Even though I have to say that “Pop That Coochie” is nowhere near what real Hip Hop means, it was necessary; a growing pain if you will. By the time real authentic Hip Hop surfaced in Dallas, it had already grown pubic hairs in the East Coast. Dr. Rock gave us the West Coast and through D.O.C, The Fila Fresh Crew & ATL (Above The Law) whom all are from West Dallas, the Gangster Rap trend dominated Dallas at that time. Long before the internet and the opportunities that come along with it, I remember having to purchase studio time for real and not recording at home through some app…the studio was taken more serious. Now with the click of a mouse, anyone can put together anything and the youth whom are not familiar with real Hip Hop confuse it and have called this new-age auto-tuned, digital boom-boom music (Hip Hop) wtf? Pikahsso is Hip Hop!

  7. And before I forget, big props to Russ Par, Dj Eazy Street (100.3 Jamz) whom was from the East Coast and couldn’t play what the program director didn’t want him to play and last but not least Greg Street whom has been on both stations before 97.9 even came in the picture, Greg was spreading our local artist to the World. Greg Street took a lot of what was hidden in Dallas and took it to other places. Much respect!

  8. Thank you for featuring Pikahsso! I am originally from Austin, now located in Rhode Island and have listened to him for a few years now. I found him via various Texas underground hip hop friends. It is excellent to see articles and news on the preservers of the hip hop culture. This is where the light should be shined in lieu of usurpers of the art. More articles like this need to make it to the eyes of people who think Texas is all cowboy hats, country music, and pickup trucks. Thanks again, I look forward to the next feature.

  9. THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this article on Pikahsso! He is one of the most real, honest and down to earth Hip Hop artists in Dallas and is so deserving of this article. This is his passion and he is Truth! He has so much knowledge and is such a part of the DFW Hip Hop scene that we can all learn from him and others like him. It would be awesome to have future articles that feature the local legends, tell their story and support our own here! Please keep more stories like this coming our way!!!

  10. this article is all the way real…hiphop should be allowed to get older and have a celebrated history as well as be contemporary and new…shout out and respect if you love all hiphop!

  11. Great article! Remembering Pik as he walked the halls of an old employer with headphones on his ear, bobbing his head and spitting out his own lyrics. A few may have thought this brother to be weird but I knew some day we would all be hearing his name in the near future out side the walls of this job (over 15 years ago). Well done Pik…well done!

  12. Great article and finally recognition for all the hard work Pikahsso has done for the hip hop community in the DFW.

  13. Anyone who is a part of local hip hop should already know about Pikahsso and Tahiti… I knew about these cats before i ever got into the hip hop scene… And if you havent been to a Pikahsso show, well dont expect for Heaven to open the pearly gates for you… Great piece of journalism by the way

  14. DOOOOOOOPE!!! dfw hip hop history is a story that needs to be told. we have been deep in it under and above ground. u’ve grooved n danced to many beats and artists home grown right here in the metroplex and probably didn’t even know it. dfw hip hop isnt ready for burial…this is a resurgence…look out! awesome article!

  15. This article was well written and truly depicts whom I know as Pikahasso. He is definitely a pioneer in the DFW hip hop scene and to have chosen him to capture DFW’s history of hip hop was a phenomenal choice. Not only did he play a major part in creating history in our city, but he is still setting an example to the future artists in our area. After reading this article, I was truly proud to be able to say…I Know This Guy. The photos of the many faces of Pikahsso definitely show the many characters that we have all witnessed thru his many creations. Thank you to all that were involved in the making of this article, you couldn’t have chosen a better pwrson than Pikahsso…definitely a true hip hop pioneer.

  16. Pikahsso is such a gifted and talented artist. He is definitely on my faves list. Thank you for doing this article to bring his gifts to the forefront!! Love it!

  17. Great article. I love Tahiti & Pikahsso’s style. Two great local talents. Keep it up boys!

  18. Great article! Pikahsso was the first and only M.C. that I ever know to truly amaze me with the wide variety of styles he employs while rapping. From harmony to rapid delivery, to rapping backwards he can do it all, and does it all very well. Much respect to you Pik and congratulations on the accolades and this outstanding article. BIG UP!!!

  19. Pikahsso is one of the more inspiring Artists of our time.He absolutely lives his reality never forgetting to incorporate the history of Hip Hop.His passion and creativity transcends himself. He is one of my humble friends that shines like a beacon in the night because of his enduring spirit and innovative nature.He is an example of how God wants us to use the GIFTS he gave us.We are blessed to have people like Pikahsso that follow their intuitive renderings to enrich all of us. Art is often not a choice but a calling and the price should be elevation because it is one of the purest notions to follow and he certainly does.

  20. Pikahsso has supported the efforts of so many talented artist. His music shows his passion and I am so happy that Dallas is taking note of all of his hard work! Way to Go Pikahsso!! We are with you all the way!

  21. Congrats fam, all things that come your way to showcase your efforts and hard work you honestly deserve. Looking forward to another classic collabo in the future. Peace

    Major Williams
    Foxx City Records/CoolGuy Music
    #CoolGuyGang #CGM4Life

  22. Without a doubt, Pik is a huge part of Dallas hip hop and he holds a lot of knowledge about our roots. I’ve always respected his creative marketing and highly experimental sound. Thanks for shedding light Dick!

  23. I’m so proud of Pikahsso! Please continue to keep rising! Love ya and congrats!

  24. This was a great article giving an in depth view of not only of who Pikahsso is but about the unsung heroes of the D-F-W area. I first learned about Pikahsso by listening to just random joints on his myspace page(remember when that was big? lol). I got fully introduced to his work by listening to PPT’s Tres Monos In Love and that blew my mind on how talented Pikahsso, Tahiti, and Picnic were and to this day I always check out their music. I highly recommend checking out his previous work and also his latest work “Pikahsso for Dummies”…the guy is too talented/creative to be slept on fa real…props for this article it was much needed

  25. Love it…Keep doing what you doing.Pikahsso, thanks for being different and unique all in one

  26. Pik is a huge piece of DFW’s Hip Hop scene and a very humble person for everything he has contributed to us and for us. Glad to see D Magazine and Sullivan showing their appreciation for everything he has done.

  27. Pikahsso is a gift to the music world and it makes me real happy to see him getting this well deserved exposure. Thank you for writing this article!!

  28. I’m kind of an unusual character: a long haired whire rock musician with a real passion for real hip-hop, and have been for a long time…busta, the fugees (or wyclef,) outkast, tribe, the lost boys…but all i really know about the history of dallas rap is two things: Oak Cliff Assassin, and Easy Eddie. Most everything that cat spins is “funktatical.”
    Well, one day i noticed that i was PPT’s Top Listener on last.fm so i thought it was time to hit up a show. I saw PPT at their farewell show…and it was the best hip hop show i’ve ever seen. and considering i’ve SEEN all the aforementioned acts, along with cypress hill, gang starr, public enemy, snoop, etc etc etc, that’s saying a lot. Plus he’s cool as hell… we talk now and then online. Pikahsso Allen Poe’s only sin is not making enuff music !

  29. This was a great read. Pikahsso is the epitome of hip hop. He eats, sleeps and breaths it. This article was a great representation of who he is as an artist and individual. Pikahsso is putting Dallas on the map. Great article