Underground hip hop phenom Rapper Big Pooh has been consistent with giving the hip hop community dope content. In 2003, I remember checking out The Listening album and it was at that point my love for hip hop was rejuvenated! Especially this joint “Whatever You Say”:
But you can’t mention Little Brother without touching on the hit album The Minstrel Show.
North Carolina hip-hop artists changed the dynamics of down south hip hop back then. When 9th Wonder, Pooh and Phonte connected as Little Brother, that was an amazing time for hip hop. More artists emerged from the south with a boom bap appeal. The sound of The Justus League, which consist of Edgar Allan Floe, Cesar Comanche, Legacy, Sean Boog, Khrysis, Pooh, Chaundon, Phonte, Median and 9th Wonder was invigorating. That crew actually motivated me to become the hip hop advocate I am today. I felt that rappers like Big Pooh and Justus League needed a platform to showcase their music. After all, mainstream wasn’t doing it for the culture.
Later on, Big Pooh went on his solo venture. He is still the epitome of style and flair when it comes the flow and delivery, and is always on top of his game. His wordplay is witty and engaging. He released a crazy catalogue of music with standouts like Trouble in the Neighborhood, Words Paint Pictures produced by Apollo Brown, Home Sweet Home produced by Nottz, and Everything 4 Sale.
His latest project RPM is definitely in my top albums of the year. The project consists of 12 bangers featuring artists like Chaundon, Akilz Amari, Ab Liva, Focus, Blakk Soul and many more.
We caught up with Rapper Big Pooh for this exclusive interview. I’m grateful for the opportunity to build with an icon who motivated my involvement in pushing the culture forward!We caught up with Rapper Big Pooh for this exclusive interview. I’m grateful for the opportunity to build with an icon who motivated my involvement in pushing the culture forward!
Who are your musical influences?
My musical influences float between Nas and early Ice Cube. Marvin Gaye, Prince, EPMD. It’s a little something I tried to borrow from all of them and put it into what I do.
What made you start rapping?
I’ve always been a writer. Actually tried my hand at rapping when I was 12-13 years old. I wasn’t that good. I just used to mimic the artists I liked.
What are your top 5 hip hop albums?
Illmatic – really started me on this journey. Nas was the first person that made me say, “I want to do what he does”
Amerikkkas Most Wanted – the energy that Ice Cube carried throughout that album was impeccable. The story telling was top notch.
ATLiens – I was already an Outkast fan but this album spoke to me more than any other. The beginnings of their eventual GOAT status.
Reasonable Doubt – The bravado, the story telling, the word play, the production. Perfect.
Ready To Die – Biggie was a God MC. His story telling, the way he floated over beats was so melodic, and he ushered in new wave. Biggie’s album was hard lyrically but the production was so polished.
Extra credit: Doggystyle – I have an affinity for West Coast and funk music and it started with this album for me.
How did you become a member of Little Brother?
Little Brother kind of just happened. We all knew and had been working with each other for a year or two prior. We were just recording songs like we normally did and the first time that the combination of myself, Phonte, and 9th happened to do a joint with just us three, it was magical.
How did it feel to branch off and go solo?
I was anxious when I first started my solo journey. I only really saw myself as someone that was part of a group. You start having all of these thoughts about failure and not being able to carry the weight by yourself popping up in everything you do. I pushed through the fear believing it would make me stronger.
What was your favorite project to create and why?
My favorite project to record had to be The Listening. There were no expectations. It was just a few guys making music.
Describe your first time going on tour
First time on tour was opening for Hieroglyphics on their Full Circle Tour back in 2003. I was 23 years old and traveling the US for the first time on a rap tour. I had the time of my life. It was part grueling, part educational, all fun!
What was the hip hop climate like in NC when Justus League was thriving compared to now?
The Hip Hop scene was a budding one in NC when we were first forming and moving around. It was lively and active. I wasn’t as involved as Little Brother began traveling the world but it fizzled a little… and started making a comeback with fresh blood. Now NC has talent everywhere you look in the industry.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of hip-hop?
Hip Hop like most things is always evolving. There are things I like and things I don’t but that will always be the case. You can’t control growth.
What do you think of the resurgence of veteran rappers coming back in the game with new music?
I appreciate the resurgence. Older heads like to listen to hip hop that speaks to them just as much as kids and young adults like to listen to music that speaks to their demographic. As long as it’s quality music, I’m all for it.
This year lots of hip hop projects dropped. Are there any in particular that stood out to you?
I can’t keep up. I like to take my time and really sit with projects that I like. I am thankful for getting formally introduced to the Griselda Camp this year. I knew about Conway and Westside Gunn but hadn’t really dove into their catalogue until this year.
Recently Will.I.Am made a bold statement about hip hop. What are your thoughts on his comment?
Will.I.Am has a point. I agree to a certain extent. What he is talking about is corporate driven rap. Rap has been made out to very disposable. Someone can have a big hit in Jan 2019 and then we don’t hear from them again, move on to the next. There is no development, no organic building of stars. It’s a lot of fast food out there. That’s just the way they choose to play it in the big leagues. The indie game it’s something different.
What do you think of these Hip Hop award shows that should reflect the culture?
Once again, corporate driven award shows will never represent like they are supposed to. They aren’t catering to the “culture.” They are catering to sponsors. Watch them to be entertained, not edutained.
After watching The Breakfast Club interview, I had to add this question. Do you think radio stations really have a pulse on authentic hip hop? Do you think everything is about popularity?
Radio stations are definitely in the popularity game. Some of the people there may have a pulse, but we are once again talking about a corporate owned entity. Their job isn’t to nurture the culture, it’s to create ad revenue. What creates ad revenue? Popular artists and headlines.
Tell us about your recent project. What was the motivation behind it?
RPM was a chance for me to reinsert myself back into the atmosphere as an artist. I had been laying low, managing, but felt inspired to contribute to the creative landscape again. This project is no filler, all substance.
Can we expect any more music from you?
I’m not sure when I will release any more music. I just like to go when the spirit hits. The itch isn’t always there and I really enjoy the other aspects of the industry that I have begun to explore behind the scenes.
I would like to include a fun question. If you can form a hip hop supergroup, who would you select?
Supergroups are tricky. Coming from a group, I understand the importance of chemistry and everyone doing something different to make the sum greater than the parts. I would like to see a Royce x Phonte x DJ Premier project though.
Thank you Big Pooh for all your contributions to hip hop. I greatly appreciate how genuine and candid you are when speaking on the culture. Your music has been an inspiration to fans worldwide. We look forward to hearing more from you in the upcoming year!