Richard Escobedo—better known as PICNICTYME—has no shortage of talents. An MC, singer, photographer, musician and video director, Picnic has gained renown as one of the most eclectic hip-hop beatmakers in his home city of Dallas. And when he’s not in the studio crafting records for local heroes A.Dd+ and national acts like Kid Cudi, you can find him on stage playing percussion for Erykah Badu.
Born and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas, two hours north of Dallas, Picnic learned to play drums at age 11 and, at 18, he self-released his debut single “Roll With Me” through his own Oven Records. Initially going by Esco, he eventually came to embrace “Picnic,” the unusual childhood nickname given to him by his uncle. “He smoked a lot of weed, and he’d call me and my cousins really weird names,” Picnic recalls of his uncle Freddy “There was Stuffy, there was Poofaloo, Onion, Maffeo…”
After relocating to Dallas to study film at the Art Institute of Dallas, Picnic got job as a videographer and photographer, even working as the cameraman for the syndicated reality show, Cheaters. At the same time, he was honing his skills as a beatmaker, and in 2006 he teamed with rappers Picasso and Tahiti to form the group PPT. Although PPT’s lifespan was brief, the leftfield trio—in which Picnic acted as both producer and MC—had a major impact on Dallas’ then- conservative hip-hop scene. “We kind of embraced a quirky feel—that Pharcyde meets De La Soul vibe,” Picnic recalls. He was able to put his visual talents to use in PPT as well: The group shot a video for each song on their debut Tres Monos in Love, and made a movie based on their second and final release, Denglish.
After PPT disbanded, Picnic connected with fellow Dallas beatmaker S1 (co-producer of Kanye West’s “Power”) to form the production unit Cassette Union, placing beats with Kid Cudi, Devin the Dude and Scarface, among others. Through S1 he also came to know Erykah Badu, who recruited Picnic to play percussion in her band, the Cannabinoids, and, later, to document her tours as a photographer. “We thought it was gonna be this one off thing,” Picnic recalls of the formation of the Cannabinoids, an improvisational beatmaking troupe which backs Badu at live shows. “But then she found out I had other skills outside of making beats, and that me and her have the exact same birthday and we hit it off i guess.”
Picnic’s latest accomplishment is producing and engineering rap duo A.Dd+’s entire When Pigs Fly LP, an eclectic masterpiece that belongs near the D.O.C.’s No One Could Do It Better in the annals of great Dallas rap albums. “I was in search of something that would make a splash and set a foundation for me as a producer,” Picnic says of his connection with A.Dd+, a group in which he has become an unofficial third member. “I knew they had a truth to them and a lot of emotion that they wanted to get out. So that’s how I went into it as a producer—to make beats that brought out emotion, and really challenge them.” Since the release of When Pigs Fly, which has received accolades in national publications like XXL, Picnic has been in the studio working on upcoming projects GOOD Music crooner Tony Williams and rapper/singer Johnny Polygon.
For his next act, he plans to unleash Sea Monsters, an introspective EP of his own that showcases his singing, rapping and production talents. “It’s based on the idea of when people say, ‘There’s always more fish in the sea,” Picnic says. “But there’s also sea monsters in that bitch… I want the music to sound like you’re swimming in slow motion underwater. That’s the vision for the whole thing.”