TUTWILER — He may not be a universally known household name just yet, but the star of Tallahatchie County hip-hop artist Da’Jour Walker appears to be rising in the music industry.
After signing a May 22 recording contract with The New 1017, the record label of renowned Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane, Walker instantly became more well known because of the widespread publicity surrounding the new deal.
The 24-year-old Walker, known professionally as “BigWalkDog,” was highly touted by the 41-year-old Gucci Mane in an online post. “If you support me follow my new artist @bigwalkdog1,” he wrote, adding, “he gone be a superstar.”
On the heels of that resounding endorsement, Walker returned to his hometown last week and was celebrated in grand style with a parade and gathering attended by droves of fans and well-wishers.
Hundreds lined Hancock Avenue here Wednesday, May 26, to show their support for the hometown sensation. Walker and his entourage, occupying several automobiles, entered Tutwiler at about 2:45 p.m. The black luxury SUV in which he was riding was escorted by a law enforcement vehicle with lights flashing and sirens blaring.
Pending the start of a parade, the SUV remained parked in front of the Double Quick convenience store. Walker stayed in the vehicle, and a throng of fans amassed. At one point, he stretched his arm out of a window, held his cellphone high and gave it a wave, prompting many in the crowd to follow suit.
During a brief interview while he sat in the vehicle, Walker told a reporter that the 1017 pact means “so much, I couldn’t even explain it,” adding, “Gucci Mane is one of the biggest labels in the world.”
As if to punctuate his signing with The New 1017, Walker is featured in a new music video with Gucci Mane for the recently released single, “Poppin.” The video is available on YouTube, but fair warning to anyone who may not be familiar: it includes some strong language common to the genre.
According to YouTube analytics, the “Poppin” official video, released just last week, has nearly 4 million views and, as of Tuesday, was ranked at No. 6 on YouTube’s list of trending music videos.
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Walker’s Tutwiler parade, which included law enforcement vehicles, several fire trucks and some private automobiles, traversed Hancock Avenue, then turned south toward the Tutwiler Activities and Convention Complex on Holly Street. It ended up at the nearby pavilion stage, where Walker mixed and mingled with the crowd.
There was a heavy law enforcement presence, with several lawmen brandishing assault rifles, but the crowd was orderly throughout.
As part of last week’s visit, the pavilion, as well as numerous other sites in and around Tutwiler, were filmed for inclusion in a new music video for Walker’s new single, “Came From Da Bottom.”
Walker said, “We’re shooting the biggest video of the year, the biggest video of the century, in my hometown, Tutwiler, Mississippi.”
As of Tuesday, this video about Walker’s rise from humble beginnings had 1.1 million views on YouTube, where it was trending at No. 15 for music.
This video is not the first on Walker’s playlist to feature footage from Tutwiler, which he proudly still calls home despite his new place of residence in Atlanta.
Some of Walker’s family and friends, as well as classmates from his West Tallahatchie High School Class of 2015, can also be seen in some of the music videos.
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Walker is the son of Tutwiler-area natives Daphne Tyler and JoNathan Walker. His mother currently lives in Webb and his father in Tunica.
Tyler said her son is a natural rapper and has practiced the art for many years.
“It was just something he loved to do,” she noted. “He could pretty much [make] a rap song out of anything. The guy is just a genius.”
Tyler said she is “so overwhelmed with joy and happiness” for her son’s success.
“Words cannot express this feeling I am having right now,” she stated. “This is truly a blessing for him.”
Mom said Walker “truly loves all of his family and fans” but is especially inspired by her late mother, Walker's grandmother, Mrs. Ella Wee Tyler, who died just last year.
“He wishes she was here to see him and how his dream came true,” she said. “I know she is looking down smiling and saying, ‘Look at Da’Jour. You go, boy.’”
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Tutwiler Mayor Nichole Harris-Rosebud, who is Daphne’s sister, drummed up support for last week’s parade honoring her nephew, saying that she wanted to “roll out the red carpet for our very own!”
“As mayor, I am excited to have someone from our community excel in any way,” she said. “We just got a chance to witness a star be born in our community in such a small period of time. His career blew up and we are ecstatic as a community.”
Walker has said that his move to Memphis, where he hooked up with the owner of a recording studio there, helped to propel his career.
Harris-Rosebud said the meteoric rise of her nephew is being felt in the Tutwiler community.
“I think the sky will shine brighter over our small town with our new star ‘BigWalkDog.’”
The mayor said that during Walker’s visit to Tutwiler last week, he “showed so much love to the community.”
“The children and adults got a chance to mingle with the star and showed all smiles,” she added. “I think the impact he had and will continue to have on the community will be remembered forever.”
On a personal note, Harris-Rosebud said, “As his aunt, I can’t stop smiling because I am so happy for him. He is just all-around a great young man.”
After knowing him as both a family member and also as a student at West Tally, where she teaches, she said “he never changes.”
“The sky is the limit for our young star. I can’t wait to watch the journey,” she added. “I know my sister, his grandmother and grandfather are more than proud!”
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During a recent interview for the program, “Off the Porch,” on the Atlanta-based Dirty Glove Bastard YouTube channel, Walker said that he both freestyles and writes his own music, and that once he finds the tempo, the creativity can almost be put on cruise control.
He called rapping “second nature” to him, saying he “loves it.”
Of his sudden rise in the music world, Walker said he is “blessed” and plans to keep going “up, up, up,” adding, “I don’t see nothing else but up.”
“I can’t stop. ... We come from, really, nothing. To have the opportunity — it ain’t always about the money, but life-changing opportunities being thrown at you — why would you stop?” he asked.
Speaking of not stopping, Walker said he would tell his fans, “Don’t ever stop chasing your dream.”