His name is Moses. So, of course, he's leading a movement. It's called #IAmDallasHipHop.
Cedric Moses, better known as "Mozez Tha Great," put out a call on social media for local rappers to rep their particular brands of hip-hop. They answered with video after video, flooding timelines with freestyles that used the hashtag. And so it began.
"I was like you know what, 'Let's start a hashtag, I'll start a hashtag, #IAmDallasHipHop, and see which artists will grab onto it,'" Moses said.
"Everybody is always like, 'I want to try to do this to go viral, or maybe this hashtag will catch on' — but I guess when it's organic and it catches you by surprise and you're not really not expecting it to catch on the way it did, it's always a cool thing to see."
The accompanying live event, "Mozez Tha Great Presents: I Am Dallas Hip Hop," will be Saturday, July 7, at 9 p.m. at Trees (2709 Elm St., Dallas) in Deep Ellum. Local rappers will get the chance to play a seminal venue for hip-hop in Dallas, which isn't always available to up-and-coming talent.
"I remember being a hip-hop artist, and I'm like, 'Man, I've been doing music for so long. How do I perform at Trees? How can I get at Trees?' And then I've been fortunate enough the past like year and a half, I performed at Trees like five or six times now. And I'm like, 'You know what? I want to pick like really, really talented artists that I've seen, that I stand behind their art and their grind and their craft, live performance and showcase them and also give them that opportunity to perform at a venue like Trees,' because if I wasn't given an opportunity to perform at Trees and Bomb Factory ... #IAmDallasHipHop might never have come to life."
Moses hopes this will be the first of many annual events that showcase the diversity to be found among local talent. He's been watching and listening and decided to do something about whatever division was caused by trying to categorize the local sound.
"In my 10 years of experience in Dallas hip-hop, it's just a bunch of dope hip-hop, whether it's self-conscious, whether it's trap, street, Christian, all of this embodies Dallas hip-hop for me, especially being an artist that pulls from so many sounds and experiments and traditional hip-hop and rap, soul and R&B. I said, 'Maybe the sound for Dallas hip-hop is just great hip-hop.' So, #IAmDallasHipHop was created to just show the diversity of Dallas hip-hop but also just show dope artists who can rhyme, are on the verge of mastering their craft, taking it to the next level."
Hyper Fenton, who is scheduled to perform at #IAmDallasHipHop, embodies that diversity. He says his music is "all about articulating the Gospel of Jesus Christ with artistry that is so impactful it breaks the barriers of genres and labels."
The man born Seth Jacob Fenton also believes that the diverse nature of hip-hop in Dallas gives it another enviable trait.
"I think diversification is a reflection of authenticity," he said. "When music is good, it usually is because the artist brings something new to the sound or message but in a way that really is just the artist being who they are. I find that to be especially true in hip-hop: No one wants to really hear you sound like someone else, they want to hear music that is authentic — and from that authenticity comes diversity."
But defining a city's place in the genre has become a sticking point because some sounds are linked to certain cities: Atlanta and crunk; Houston is chopped and screwed; East Coast is aggressive; the G-Funk of the West Coast.
It's only natural that genre watchers try to categorize Dallas rap; it was an online debate that Moses said sparked his idea. It's also why Moses' latest EP is called Undefined.
"I feel like music and creatives, as a creative person and people in general, I feel like we're too complicated to be defined by one thing. I'm Cedric Moses, but I'm also Mozez Tha Great. I'm a black male, I'm a brother, I'm a son. I feel like I'm a revolutionary, I'm forward-thinking," Moses said.
"So when I think of [Big] Tuck, when I think of [Mr.] Pookie, when I think of D.O.C., they all are different but they all embody Dallas hip-hop culture for me. And none of them are the same at all. ... I am Dallas hip-hop. You are Dallas hip-hop."
Local artist Izk Davies used the hashtag to rap about mental health.
"They got a pill for every dream killed and will still fiend for refills. It's ill./
Communication sedated for mental health, feeling suicidal. Mood stabilizers. Send Pfizer the funeral bill."
Alex The Great, who will perform July 7, wrote on Facebook about the event that "this is about to be monumental." Of course, he had more to say, rapping:
"Haven't done nearly enough to take a victory lap. You gotta work for it. It ain't gonna fall in your lap."
Moses' movement isn't just about the culture, it's about the diversity within it. And it's also about making a mark to propagate the genre in North Texas. With vendors also on tap for the event, maybe #IAmDallasHipHop is on its way to becoming a festival?
Moses laughed and agreed: "That's the hopes for the future. We want to keep growing and building until this is a yearly thing where it really blows up."
Details: "Mozez Tha Great Presents: I Am Dallas Hip Hop" will feature FL Loud, Previs The Best, Jui$e Leroy, IqMuzic, Contrabandz, Hyper Fenton, Alex The Great, Amber Bee and Shoose McGee on Saturday, July 7, at 9 p.m. at Trees, 2709 Elm St., Dallas. $16-$21. All ages. Doors open at 8. treesdallas.com.