This weekend, 24-year-old Dallas rapper Bobby Sessions will bring the critically acclaimed tunes of his 2015 album LOA to the stage. The extended performance at Deep Ellum's RBC will build on the energy and fervent flow put forth by Sessions back in November when he debuted his album at Trees. The record's already earned widespread praise for Sessions' lyrical blend of social realism and personal positivity.
One listen to LOA would impress any hip-hop connoisseur. We sat down with Sessions recently to talk about his run thus far. Press play on the podcast below to hear his thoughts and his music, and read on for more about the artist:
Becoming Bobby: Sessions spent the first few years of his life in Pleasant Grove and then moved to Rowlett with his family to attend the schools there. Around middle school, he found hiscareer dreams shifting from sports to entertainment, thanks to his growing status as a classroom cut-up.
"I took it on myself to make class entertaining," Sessions says, and that included making beats on desks with pencils and cracking jokes to try to charm the teachers. He even won a class clown award from one of his faculty fans.
The affinity for wordplay grew as Sessions began freestyle rapping with friends outside of class: "We rapped about going to football practice, things like that."
He added poetry to his repertoire when he arrived as a broadcast journalism student at the University of North Texas, aiming to share his pieces at the regular "Poetic Justice" talent night held at a gazebo on campus. He noticed other folks freestyle rapping at the event and knew he could do better -- attribute that to the "sports-competition thing going on my head."
"I go home, I write all the raps I can," Sessions says. "The next Tuesday I come out, spit these raps and everybody goes crazy."
Taking a scary step: Fast-forward to the period after Sessions' time at UNT, when he moved to Dallas and became involved with the popular Brain Gang hip-hop collective of performers and producers.
"We became white hot at one point around the city due to the mosh-pit ruckus style," he says. It was "almost like a punk-rock kind of element that we added to hip-hop shows with the mosh pits and the jumping and the pushing.
"It got me a lot of experience on stage."
What it didn't give Sessions was a firm idea of who he could be as a lyricist and artist. Frustrated with a regular day job and the lack of personal creative inspiration, he found himself watching a documentary based on the visualize-your-success book The Secret. New age-y as it might be, something spoke to him deeply in the movie regarding the law of attraction, the idea that the energy you put into the world influences the energy you get back.
"I started looking, had a new awareness about how I was navigating my day to day."
Sessions decided to leave Brain Gang and strike out on his own creatively. Many months later, in January of last year, he still felt unable to make meaningful progress on his music. He took a leap of faith and bounced from the day job he hated with only $50 in the bank and no idea how to pay the next month's bills.
"That's when things started to happen for me," Sessions says. That's not to say he didn't doubt himself. How often did he reconsider the decision to do music full-time in those first few months? "Every [expletive] second."
When things started to happen: Sessions began to invest more time and thought into his music's sound, his style of rapping and the range of topics he wanted to address. He sought production and collaborating assistance from local luminaries, like rapper-producer Topic; former Brain Gang mates like Blue the Misfit; and even live musicians who played everything from drums to jazz flute.
The album Sessions had begun to make "ended up being this real musical project," with as much attention paid to how melodies and structures unfolded as the messages in the lyrics themselves.
The results of months of work on the record? When Law of Attraction was released in November, local media and fans were floored by the album's cohesiveness and scope. There were upbeat, self-realizing brag tracks like "Helicopter" mingling with reflective anthems like Law of Attraction's manifesto-like title track.
Pieces that earned the greatest praise, however, were the socially conscious, ripped-from-headlines bangers "Black Neighborhood" and "Black America." The former finds Sessions adding considerable meaning to an old Dave Chappelle punchline; in the hypnotic song, he chants about all the things he sees in a typical black neighborhood. Its rawness and urgency complements the other track, "Black America," which comments on the violence fueling the Black Lives Matter movement.
Sessions says he intends to wrap the social, the upbeat and the reflective into his hourlong set this weekend at the reopened RBC in Deep Ellum. The show is co-sponsored by the burgeoning local record label High Standardz, which released Law of Attraction.
Regarding the new label and his own work, Sessions is confident about how he hopes to influence the local hip-hop scene.
"Dallas is a big enough market and it has a great fan base out here that deserves to see a level of consistency.
"We want to be the people who deliver that to them."