It’s always been baffling to me that a fairly tough town like Dallas hasn’t had the same worldwide reputation for hip hop that Houston, New Orleans, or a host of other southern cities have enjoyed. One theory is that perhaps the outsider’s view of Dallas is that maybe we’re a little softer than we actually are. As a result, I’ve always been a little suspicious of any Dallas rap that reinforced this notion, by pushing a message of positivity or higher consciousness on its listener. I feel the same way about rock, folk, country, or anything else; save the preaching for Sunday morning, as I don’t come to music for all that goody-goody nonsense. I’ve always thought that if only Dallas could get a few profane, platinum, full-length rap records under its belt, then it could be as progressive and happy as it wanted.
That brings us to -topic, the Dallas artist whose newest collection of songs, Time to Feed the Birds, just posted online, though the actual release date was said to have been in May. Right off the bat, I’m noticing that there is not the requisite amount of offensiveness that I expect from my favorite tracks, even though there’s a “parental advisory” stamp. The cover features a man being carried away by birds. That’s a little on the light side, and this is even described as “experimental hip hop,” which can sometimes be a red flag. But then I listened to it, and -topic is able to sell this on his abilities alone. On the song “On and Off,” I actually felt personally threatened:
Cyber sniper rifle/’bout to blow your blog away
rap assassin all the way…
Now, that’s more like it. -topic is lyrically crafty enough to get away with the stylistic meandering away from straight-ahead beats, focus, and attack of some of his peers. This should be a great show not just because of his involvement, but also because of appearances from fellow MC Jenny Robinson and producer/lyricist Brandon Blue, who hails from his namesake, Brain Gang Blue. Finally, this is a highly unusual event, as two of the strongest synthesizer pop acts in the area will also be performing, that would be both Def Rain and Vulgar Fashion.
The new Dallas Observer clubs editor, Vanessa Quilantan, will be hosting, so perhaps none of this should come as a surprise at all, since she has been the most credible addition to that paper’s full-time music staff roster in nearly two years.
-topic, Def Rain, Jenny Robinson, and Vulgar Fashion perform at Sandaga 813 on Friday. DJs include Mama Dew, Priest TD, Zander, Night Nurse, and IZM. Show is at 9 pm.
Here are some other music picks for the weekend:
“Subsonic Indulgence” (Andy’s): Tonight’s lineup is Blixaboy, Sofaking, Spacechase, and Max Carrit.
“The Turn Up” (Beauty Bar): Somewhat expectedly, rest of the Track Meet crew will also be performing this evening, in addition to a black light show.
“Big Bang” (The Travis): There are some free cocktails to be had if you RSVP here, but it’s “until midnight” according to DJ Sober. Sometimes I wonder if free cars could even get a Dallas crowd to a set before midnight, but that’s another story. Donnie Dee is the guest this evening, and Vice’s Noisey music site is involved, so make sure to go completely nuts in case they write about us. I don’t want to hear that our city came across as basic in some snippy recap.
(The Crown and Harp): Tommyboy and Brian Bishop will be quite capably taking over, since Wanz Dover will be in Denton this evening, for the “Subsonic Indulgence” event listed above.
Other Thursday shows—
Danny Church Band (The Dram)
Oil Boom/The Roomsounds/Foxtrot Uniform (The Kessler): This is presented by KXT, which has another showcase next week at Dan’s Silver Leaf, yet with a wildly different lineup. We’ll have more info on that soon.
“Funkology” (The Crown and Harp): Tape Mastah Steph’s monthly presentation of classic disco, funk, dance, and hip hop sides features DJ Buddha Fingers this week.
Other Saturday shows—
The Polyphonic Spree/Telegraph Canyon/Harper Simon (The Granada Theater)
Eyes, Wings and Many Other Things/Technicolor Hearts/Frauen/Spacebeach (The Amsterdam Bar): I can’t recommend this enough, since The Amsterdam is one of my favorite venues when they host lineups other than their weekly jazz performances. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve long appreciated that tradition, but the courtyard makes for a perfect setting to see some weirdos making noise and pop songs. Which is exactly what will take place this evening, and pay special attention to Frauen, who currently have the local market cornered on spooky, early 4AD-influenced music of the melodic variety. That’s underappreciated in Dallas, but hopefully that will change.
“Glamorama” (Beauty Bar): Resident Blake Ward has a special warning for attendees this week: “No Basic Allowed.” I try, but we have all our basic days.
Other Saturday shows—
RTB2/The Venetian Sailors/Problem Dogg (The Crown and Harp)
These Machines Are Winning/Magnet School (Double Wide)
Fungi Girls/Red 100s/Bitch Bricks/War Party/Fogg/Eets Feats/Not in the Face (The Where House): This is billed as an “end of summer party,” which seems to be jumping the gun by about a month, and it features a brave and daring bill that speaks to the open-mindedness of Fort Worth. Who else would put the Red 100s and Bitch Bricks on the same lineup? The Where House, that’s who. This show also features “swimming pools,” (yes, that’s plural) and I’ve seen some water sports at this venue before. The dunking booths and carnivalesque games, coupled with the ramshackle nature of the place make it all seem like something out of this early nineties Peter Pan remake.
Photo: -topic, at Cafe Brazil, in 2011. Credit: Andi Harman.