Texas, we have problem. For far too long, hip-hop has overlooked Dallas, dismissing the southern city as nothing more than the home of an infamous football team and more than a few dysfunctional oil tycoons like J.R. Ewing. But native son Tony "Tum Tum" Richardson has a solution. An overnight celebrity on the D-town mixtape scene as part of the Dirty South Rydahs (DSR) hip-hop collective, Tum Tum plans to use his major label debut disc Eat or Get Ate (T-Town Music/Universal Republic Records) to shut down all the misguided myths about his hometown and put his city on the hip-hop map.
"Dallas is just like any other hood like L.A. or Chicago or Detroit," says the 24-year old, whose explosive first single "Caprice Muzik" is bumping in Chevys below the Mason Dixon and has an accompanying video spinning on MTV2 and BET. "It's real blue collar, but it gets gangsta when you go down to the slums."
Tum Tum, who was given his moniker by his grandmother because of his always protruding belly, grew up in the slums. For a while, he gave in to the lure of the streets, but in 2001, he retired from the life to pursue music. "I saw a lot of people get locked up and I didn't want to go that route," Tum says. "I had to do something different with my life."
A rap career had been in the back of Tum's mind since high school when he used to sneak out of class to hit up a popular record shop. He didn't take his potential career seriously until he witnessed Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life tour. Tum quickly recorded a demo and took it to the record store to play for owner George Lopez, who along with Trinidad Delgado and Alan Powell had recently created the record label T-Town Music.
"George played it in the shop and saw the customers' reaction," Tum recalls. "He told me "yeah, I need to get you in the studio. It happened just like that."
Since signing with T-Town just 3 years ago, Tum has appeared on or hosted more than 160 mix-tapes and collaborated with fellow Texans Slim Thug, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, and Chamillionaire. Now he's officially stepping into the big leagues with Eat or Get Ate's driver's anthem "Caprice Muzik."
"Anybody can go get a Phantom and look good," he explains of his ode to proper stuttin in a whip. "In Dallas, we'll take an old car like a Chevy, put mini-van doors on it, sit it on 24s like "top that!' It's a competition."
Though the first single may be all about flossing, Eat or Get Ate, which features appearances by Jim Jones and fellow Texans Trae, TBG , and DSR and production by , Just Beatz, Yonni and Big-Dallas producers Milk @ The Missing Element, Willieboy, and O'E, is made for those with a much heartier hip-hop appetite. On "Hustle", Tum finds the parallels between working the corner and working a 9 to 5 and "T.U.M." showcases the blessed rapper recounting how he overcame his personal demons.
"People say you can believe me as soon as I start rapping," says Tum. "I just bring folks closer to me. I ain't scared to rap about who I really am or what's really going on in the hood. It's not just flossing with me."
With an incomparable flow underscored by hyper Texas-sized beats and enough heart to fuel a Cowboys' championship win, Tum Tum is certain to not only just put Dallas on the hip-hop map, but solidify its place in the rap game as well.