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Arts & Entertainment

Big Tuck Celebrates 20 Years of Purple Hulk

The Dallas rap legend will kick off a tour of the south this weekend at Club Dada in Deep Ellum.
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Big Tuck is celebrating 20 years of the Dallas classic, Purple Hulk. George Lopez

Big Tuck never took his foot off of the gas. Over two decades in the rap game, Tuck’s underground classics still resonate with Dallas listeners today. “Southside Da Realist” pours out of club speakers and blasts out a signal to turn up, prompting partygoers to shout every word. Twenty years after its release, “Not A Stain On Me” remains an anthem for stepping out looking fresh as can be.

This year, Tuck’s debut album Purple Hulk—which featured singles “Southside da Realist” and “Tussle”—also celebrates its 20th birthday. On Sunday, January 21, Tuck will celebrate his music like it just dropped yesterday, visiting the southern cities that have always shown him love. He is, of course, starting in Dallas, at Deep Ellum’s Club Dada.

Over the years, Tuck and his music have remained mainstays in several local clubs, the rooms that helped kickstart his career.

“We started out in the clubs, trying to get up music on the radio station,” Tuck says. “It was kind of difficult in the beginning. But the clubs started to play the music, and the radio DJs felt like, ‘You know, since the club’s playing it, the streets want to hear it,’ and we built the relationship with the guys from 97.9 and K104 and they’ve been playing it ever since.”

Tuck’s impact has echoed far beyond the radio. In journalist and former D arts editor Taylor Crumpton’s e-book on the legacy of Purple Hulk, she noted that “Southern Methodist University, the state’s most expensive university, uses his music in their athletics programs and regularly invites the rapper to perform on campus.”

Over the years, Dallas has been known as a behind-the-scenes city. North Texas has birthed several notable producers, including duo Play-N-Skillz, who crafted a good portion of Purple Hulk, as well as Erykah Badu collaborators Symbolyc One and Jah Born, but the local rap scene tends to pulse below the national radar. 

Tuck has still earned his flowers. “Not A Stain On Me” was sampled on “Carousel” from Travis Scott’s 2018 album, Astroworld. Tuck performed “Southside Da Realist” with Post Malone during the latter’s 2016 tour. Most recently, he made a guest appearance at Future’s 2023 One Big Party tour at the American Airlines Center, where, again, he performed “Southside Da Realist.”

“Dallas is a trend-setting city,” says Tuck. “A lot of people come here and see what’s going on with the culture in the clubs, the music scene and even on the radio stations. I feel like a lot of mainstream artists come here, get inspired by the music, and take it and use it in their own way.”

Tuck admits that when he first made “Southside Da Realist,” he didn’t imagine it would have the level of longevity it has sustained.

“The last thing I would have thought was that ‘Southside Da Realest’ would be an anthem in Dallas,” says Tuck. “I basically made it as an album filler, and I’m just talking about my friends and my hood. It’s definitely been a blessing.”

In the middle of our conversation, which takes place in the lounge of Tuck’s downtown apartment complex, an elder hip-hop fan recognizes Tuck, daps him up, and thanks him for putting Dallas on the map. As the fan walked away, I mentioned to Tuck how exciting it must feel to have created something that has stood the test of time. Tuck is certainly proud and grateful, but he admits he is often perplexed by fame.

“It’s like it just dropped yesterday,” says Tuck. “I don’t understand the fame myself, but if I walk outside of my building, the love feels like it did 20 years ago. It never changed.”

Both Tuck and his manager George Lopez agree that the key to longevity is to foster relationships and continue to uplift the promoters, the DJs, the booking agents, and everyone else who helped you behind the scenes.

“If you build a foundation with the DJs, with the promoters, with the fans, with people across the music industry, then you’ll have a relationship with them for years,” Lopez says. “[Tuck and I] haven’t dropped an actual new big single ourselves in a while, but we have the same relationships with the same people we had in 2001, because of the network and the communications that we built as a part of our foundation.”

Additionally, Tuck has made it his prerogative to support younger artists coming out of Dallas. In 2021, he performed at Tay Money’s Tay Day festival at Trees, opening for the viral rap star. Most recently, he collaborated with Zimbabwean hip-hop duo Wonder Gang on their single “In The South.” He made an appearance in the country-themed music video.

After Dada, Tuck is set to perform shows in Austin, Cleveland, and Little Rock. He notes that he gets a lot of love in the latter city, considering he attended college at University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. 

“I’m looking forward to just being on the road again,” says Tuck. “It’s always good hanging with the fans, and making memories on the road, seeing new things, and doing new things. And you know, representing Dallas to the max.”

Big Tuck performs at Club Dada on Sunday, Jan. 21 at 10 p.m. You can purchase tickets here.

Author

Alex Gonzalez

Alex Gonzalez

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