The Cowboys, the Grassy Knoll, J.R. Ewing, the Stanky Leg… Dallas, Texas, is known for lots of things. Progressive, forward-thinking hip-hop has, until now, not been one of them. That’s all starting to change, thanks to A.Dd+ (spoken aye-dee-dee). The quirky yet streetwise, fun-loving yet dead serious duo of Paris Pershun (a.k.a. 24-year-old Arrias Walls) and Slim Gravy (Dionte Rembert, 24), moves easily between slang anthems (“Likeamug”), light-hearted stories about drug addiction (“Can’t Come Down”/”Erica & Jamie”), and weighty raps about father figures and Black male incarceration (“Momma’s Brother”). Their 2011 LP When Pigs Fly has earned them praise from national media outlets including XXL and Pitchfork, which described the duo as “the rapper and the poet, the spawn of UGK and OutKast, combining street and cerebral.”
The A.Dd+ story began in 2000 when Memphis-born Paris moved into the same North Dallas apartment complex as Slim. After years of rhyming together, the pair made their partnership official in 2007, dubbing themselves A.Dd+, a play on their first names, as well as attention deficit disorder, the most ubiquitous of youth behavioral problems. “A.Dd+ is whatever you want it to be,” explains Slim, who is also known as “D.D.” “It has many meanings like A Dynamic Duo, Analog and Digital, Always Doing Dirt. The plus sign symbolizes us being beyond what others are on, always adding to the craft, never subtracting. It’s all about imagination and creativity.”
In 2009, Paris and Slim dropped their debut mixtape, Power of the Tongue. The release earned them local acclaim and a “Best Rap Act” nomination from the Dallas Observer. Just as crucially, it led to their partnership with producer Picnictyme (of Erykah Badu’s Cannabinoids crew), the group’s sonic sensei and unofficial third member.
Produced entirely by Picnictyme, their debut LP, When Pigs Fly, took listeners on a ride through the streets of Dallas and a journey through Paris and Slim’s own offbeat imagination. Upon its release in March of 2011, the Dallas Observer boldly proclaimed it as possibly “the best hip-hop album Dallas has ever released.” The project earned the crew three nods from the Dallas Observer Music Awards, including nominations for “Best Album,” “Best Rap Act,” and “Best Producer.” Renowned hip-hop journalist Jefferson Mao also featured the LP in his XXL “Chairman’s Choice” column, while Pitchfork Media included it in its list of Underrated Rap Releases of 2011.
“It’s overwhelming at times to be held in such high regard,” Paris says of the response to When Pigs Fly. “We approached the project as more of a mixtape with original production by Picnic, and it really took on a life of its own once it hit the public. Having it described as possibly the best rap album ever released in a city that has so much talent, is a great honor.”
Backed by their DJ Sober, (named Dallas’ Best DJ in the Dallas Observer’s “Best Of 2011″), A.Dd+ delivered “blazing opening sets” for sold-out audiences to see Wu-Tang, Erykah Badu, Big K.R.I.T. and Devin the Dude in 2011. The duo kicked off 2012 touring Texas on Red Bull’s Skooled tour with Bun B, Mannie Fresh and Paul Wall, among others. Up next, the group will embark on its first North American tour, opening for Black Milk, with whom they collaborated on the track “Insomniac Dreaming” (No. 17 on rap blog Passionweiss.com’s 50 Best Hip-Hop Songs of 2011).
Perhaps most encouragingly, A.Dd+’s success has come by pushing forward a sound that is thoroughly representative of Dallas, while at the same time completely different from anything that has previously been heard from the city.
“We are not ‘backpack rappers’; we are not hipsters,” Paris says, of misconceptions about the group. “Some folks take our sense of expression the wrong way ’cause we dress a certain way, or ‘cause our artwork and videos have a certain aesthetic, or ‘cause we express our thoughts over all types of canvases. Once people give our music a full listen or see us perform, that perception usually changes. We don’t make ‘fad’ music. We make music from the soul, and we kill shit.”