Chattanooga hip-hop artist Tez D Da Runninman creates a sound that focuses on the melodic foundation of the genre while exploring some truly dark and murky social issues. He's had a run of mixtapes that have allowed him to expand this musical ideology and developed a rhythmic personality that's able to successfully integrate all these themes and sounds without showing the least bit of hesitation. With his most recent release, "Runnin Da City Hot 3: 4Real 4Real," he has grown in his own abilities to craft both meticulous and loosely woven stories of hard lives and what it means to survive in these harsh street-level climates.
For the new video to "Message," he join forces with AK Films (namely director Colby Clark and editor Keith Ward) to create a slice-of-life vignette that follows Tez as he goes about his day. There's a gritty realization that a hard life can change a person for the worse, but there's also a sense that a positive change can be had if an awareness is reached of the dangers of leading such a life. This song is a warning, his revelation of the hazards that come to the people who want to use his empty footsteps as steppingstones. There's no middle ground, just the roar and rancor of lives beaten down by the world around them.
Opening with some slight piano notes and panning synths, the track quickly establishes a momentum that never loosens its grip on you. It's a slow burn, the kind of song that evinces a menace through a tempered use of atmosphere and subtle arrangements. The song is split between two vocal takes, with him focusing on a singsong theatricality before opening into a fierce hip-hop velocity. He speaks of the difficulties in maintaining your own identity in a field of impostors and of wanting to provide for a family that deserves protection. He doles out a practiced swagger and attitude that mask the emotional chords that ring at the heart of the song.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.