Local rapper So So Topic, or -topic for short, lost years worth of original music when his camera bag and backpack were stolen last week.
-topic, whose real name is Tommy Simpson, performed at Deep Ellum's Drugstore Cowboy on Wednesday night. Around 11:20 p.m., he says he "let my guard down to take in the good energy" at the open mic event. His backpack, with his laptop and hard drive that he says contained multiple albums' worth of music, was stolen. He filed a police report soon after.
On Thursday night, -topic's bag was returned -- but it was empty. According to the rapper, a local teenager who didn't know of the theft bought the backpack for $5 earlier that day.
The rapper is offering a reward of $1,000 for the hard drive, and if he gets it, he says he'll put out his next two albums for free.
He says he has no interest in pressing charges; he just wants his work back.
He told NBC 5, "I believe if somebody actually plugs up the hard drive and plugs it in the computer and sees what's on that drive, they're going to be like 'I think I messed up.'"
At a hip-hop event last week shortly after the theft, -topic was visibly downhearted, especially compared to his usual cheeriness. "It's been a minute since my soul felt this sluggish," he wrote on Facebook. "I am shook and fighting to stay in this with everything I am."
It's not just -topic who's disappointed though; members of the local hip-hop scene such as female rapper Sam Lao are shocked at the theft.
In August, -topic became the first musician to receive a grant from the city's Office of Cultural Affairs, and he's also participated in the Dallas Ideas Festival, with the website describing the rapper, spoken-word artist and producer as "powered by positivity."
Earlier this year, he released the feel-good album My Favorite Sweaters. When that album dropped in February, he already had plans for his third album, These Things Will Happen. The unreleased These Things Will Happen, with a heavy focus on prejudice, racial profiling and police brutality, was just one of the albums, along with various other songs and beats, that was stolen.
The backpack also had tracks from other local artists, including a collaboration with keyboardist Jordan "JoJo" Walker, who recently died, and the last song that Dallas duo A.Dd+ did together before it split up earlier this year.
-topic hopes that the drive, which he says "has my soul in sound on it," will show up, but he's preparing himself for the worst. He hopes to start a GoFundMe soon to raise money to replace the equipment and to contact a data recovery company to retrieve some of the music from his old computer drives.
Even if he's able to recover some of the earlier versions of the music, he said last week that most of those tracks were in their infancy compared to the versions that were stolen last week. "10 percent is a better restart than 0 percent," he wrote on Facebook.
If you have information, you can contact -topic directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.