A.Dd+ Look Inward

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Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Members: Paris Pershun, Slim Gravy
Current Release: DiveHiFlyLo: Every Man Is King
For Fans of: Outkast, UGK, Big K.R.I.T.

“I was homeless [about] two years ago,” Slim Gravy (née Dionte Rembert) says. “I was randomly roaming around downtown [Dallas] and this homeless guy came up to me and he was asking me what I had going on. I was like, ‘I ain’t got shit.’” The homeless man then proceeded to pull a wad of money out of his underwear. “He gave me, like what, $350 out of his drawers and he had probably $2000.”

Though the man was seemingly debilitated and unkempt he explained to Gravy that he takes care of a lot of the homeless people in the downtown area. “Basically, he was the king of the homeless.”

This incident would later serve as an existential influence on the content of DiveHiFlyLo: Every Man Is King—a mixtape by Dallas based hip-hop duo A.Dd+, comprised of Slim Gravy and Paris Pershun (née Arrias Walls). The mixtape’s artwork, an image of an older gentleman donning a crown and sovereign robe, is an attempt at replicating the scene. Pershun and Gravy originally met in 2000 at an apartment complex in South Dallas following Pershun’s move from Memphis, Tenn. and officially formed A.Dd+ in 2007. In 2009, A.Dd+ released their debut mixtape, Power of the Tongue and a follow-up, When Pigs Fly, in 2011. Since 2007, A.Dd+ have steadily painted themselves as the kings of the Dallas hip-hop scene, taking home consecutive “Best Hip-Hop Act” awards from the Dallas Observer, the city’s alt-weekly.

In January of 2013, A.Dd+ held a concert at one of Dallas’ most revered music venues, The Granada Theater, to commemorate the release of DiveHiFlyLo. However, due to a change in management, the mixtape was only made available in a physical form in the duo’s hometown. “During the management change, our music got withheld,” Pershun says. “We had to pretty much re-record it all, and during that time we re-recorded it and came up with ideas [and] with new songs.”

Nine months later, A.Dd+ released DiveHiFlyLo: Every Man Is King. The project had five new songs crafted during the gestation period, a nifty subtitle derived from Gravy’s aforementioned downtown Dallas encounter and a home on the internet where rap fandom thrives.

DiveHiFlyLo: Every Man Is King is an exploration of a darker tone than A.Dd+’s previous effort—When Pigs Fly, a buoyant playful romp and collaboration with producer PICNICTYME. Pockets of gloom and rich introspection are of an abundance throughout DiveHiFlyLo: Every Man Is King. “I was going through a rough patch. I had nowhere to stay at. I was in a dark place,” Gravy says.

The duo’s dark space didn’t always boil down to the situation critical, like homelessness. “Dark place” also refers to mundane everyday struggles. “Baby mama drama, losing jobs and everyday shit. Less money in your bank account,” Pershun says.

Cerebral brooding paired with the physical connection to the South and being a duo are indicators of an obvious Outkast influence. “As far as their creative style and the way they approach songs, we kind of have that same approach,” Pershun says. “Just the way they approached the shit, it wasn’t conventional; it was unpredictable.”

Gravy recalls Outkast’s Stankonia being the first album he ever purchased, which had to grow on him. “I threw it away because I was like, ‘This shit’s weird,’” he says. “Throughout time, me and Paris got more into hip hop and furthering our sound. We really listened to Outkast a lot, to the point to where my raps were starting to sound like Andre and Big Boi’s shit. So, I actually stopped listening to them.”

In April, A.Dd+ recorded songs at Outkast’s Stankonia Studios in Atlanta. “We even saw Big Boi in that hoe, but froze up like little bitches and didn’t say shit,” Pershun says. The work Pershun and Gravy completed at Stankonia included tracks produced by Royal Flush, whose production credits include Outkast, Phantogram and Little Dragon. They saved the songs for an upcoming project.

With an equal amount of concentration being placed on lyricism and flair, A.Dd+ seek to separate themselves from the stereotypically brash, careless Southern rap acts. “Unfortunately, the South still seems to get slept on when it comes to that rapping shit,” Pershun says. “The new era of South shit, I guess, just hasn’t really caught on with everybody yet. It’s pretty much time for the new age Southern artists to start that movement again. Motherfuckers are already skeptical when it comes to Southern artists. Period. And then if you’re a new Southern artist, they’re really gonna get skeptical.”

As for the odd stylization of the name A.Dd+, the plus sign is silent. It’s a combination of Pershun’s first name Arrias, Gravy’s childhood nickname “D.D”, and a play on attention deficit disorder. “Right when we came up with the whole A.Dd+ thing, we were like, ‘How can we make it look cool and not have people call us add or anything else?’ We didn’t want people to call us “Add plus” so we threw a period in, so they would know to call us ‘A-Dee-Dee.’ We threw the plus sign in just because it looks cool.”

The guys are aware that the name is wildly confusing and virtually impossible to grasp at first glance. But, that’s frivolous in their eyes.

“Shit,” Pershun says, “if you’re paying attention to the music, then you shouldn’t be too confused.”

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