Since 1991 only one white rapper has sold more than one million copies of a single album. In the past 12 years (post Vanilla Ice) only one white rapper has attained platinum status: Eminem. For all of you out there that subscribe to the theory that white artists in hip-hop are rapidly gaining control of the culture due to their ability to be more commercially viable to the white masses than their black and brown counterparts, you might be surprised to know that for the one Eminem commercial breakthrough, there has been a seemingly endless list of Caucasian artists
who have never even surpassed 100,000 copies of a single album sold (El-P, Non-Phixion, Cage, Copywrite, and Haystak, just to name a few).
In the late-90’s (pre Slim Shady LP) Bubba Sparxxx too was one of those white MC’s trying desperately to be heard. After the first version of his debut album, Dark Days, Bright Nights was released independently, Bubba’s album landed in the hands of white rapper guarantor and Interscope Records CEO, Jimmy Iovine. The man who discovered Eminem (kinda sorta) decided to pass the Southern spitter’s album to super producer Timbaland.
Due to an industry that believes white MCs have to be "shepherded" into the game by black producers and artists to somehow pacify typical wary receptions by the hip-hop community, Jimmy knew Bubba would need to be paired with Timbaland, much in the same way Eminem was paired with Dre, to attempt to ward off the whispers of ineptness that are seemingly ever-present around any melanin deficient MC.
Fortunately for LaGrange, Georgia’s most famous MC the hook-up with Timbaland could not have been a better (and more natural) union, as Bubba was made the charter artist of Timbo’s Beat Club Records in 2001. The label re-released Bubba’s indie disc with some fresh new Tim concoctions, and faster than you could say "Ugly," Bubba had himself a gold plaque. Now the founder (that’s right founder) of the New South Movement is gearing up for the September release of his sophomore album, Deliverance, an album who’s objective is best summed up by Bubba on one of the new set’s selections, "Nowhere:" "It all comes down to this, one last chance to advance / beyond the second round of the big dance / all my plans / of being viewed as something special, more than just the other one"
Allhiphop.com: So what can our readers expect to hear when they pop Deliverance into their stereos?
Bubba Sparxxx: It’s just a real, real, real, real, thoroughly, thoroughly, thoroughly painted picture of rural life, and particularly Bubba Sparxxx’ rural life, what my life was like growing up, what it’s like now, and what ultimately I hope it can be in the future.
Allhiphop: I noticed there’s not really a club banger like “Ugly” on this album, so what’s the game plan to draw people to Deliverance?
Bubba Sparxxx: I can’t really say that I set out to not make another song like “Ugly,” but as we went along we realized we just weren’t making those kind of records. I think maybe I was a little pissed off this time, ‘cause I knew how much more I was than what some people perceived me as. So I had a little chip on my shoulder when I went back into the studio. I went back in there with some purpose, Timbaland went back in there with some purpose, Organized Noize went in there with some purpose, and so this album happens to have a more serious, less club-happy tone, that’s just what it is. T-Mo from the Goodie Mob said on Goodie Mob’s first album, “taking what I say for what it’s worth, it don’t matter ‘cause how I feel might be two different thoughts I had in the past.” So I might feel on the next album, I might work with Lil’ Jon on half the album.
Allhiphop: Do you think this more serious tone is gonna prevent some people from gravitating towards the album, harder to get those sales?
Bubba Sparxxx: Man one thing I learned, I had about as big a club song as you can have and I went Gold, in between Gold and Platinum. I was just determined to have substance this time, that’s originally the music I set out to make. And at the end of the day, if this album don’t sell one copy, and that’s not to say I don’t hope it sells 50 million, but if it don’t sell one copy I can lay my head down on that pillow at night and go to sleep with ease ‘cause I made my music. That’s a great feeling, that’s the feeling of freedom.
Allhiphop: I have an advance copy of the album, but a lot of people have already heard the whole record via the online leak. Are you planning to record any new songs for the retail version of Deliverance?
Bubba Sparxxx: Initially I wanted to when I heard it had been leaked, but as time’s gone on I’ve just bumped into so many people on this promo tour who say they’ve heard the whole album and say “we had this perception of you but now that we hearing the album we love this sh*t.” At least people who are getting it are loving it.
Allhiphop: You may just want to keep the album the way it is because in the September ’03 issue of XXL they nearly pronounced Deliverance a classic. So how did it feel to read that?
Bubba Sparxxx: Based on the words they wanted to give that album a XXL, but they knew there would be a backlash. But I’m still appreciative; it’s still a great review.
Allhiphop: So how does it feel to have the critical love this time that maybe you didn’t have the first time?
Bubba Sparxxx: It’s something that I enjoy obviously, and honestly I wish that The Source was a little less biased at this point ‘cause I grew up reading The Source and I wish I could get a fair review from them.
Allhiphop: Let’s address that, I already asked Haystak about this but I never got a chance to ask you what your impression was of the March ’03 issue of The Source that labeled you and ‘Stak hip-hop “infiltrators?”
Bubba Sparxxx: I gotta go along with what ‘Stak said, if I’m an infiltrator show me. I really don’t give a damn about what anybody says about me, I wasn’t upset about being called an infiltrator, I know I love this culture, I know I’m gonna do everything it takes to preserve this culture, I make creative, ground-breaking music, so I’m preserving this culture. I hate being called a failure, call me whatever you want but don’t say I failed. “Sorry Bubba Sparxxx and Haystak,” don’t say I failed, I sold 750,000 records, Benzino sold 50,000 talking all that sh*t.
Allhiphop: I think the only reason you even got mentioned to begin with is just ‘cause you’re an Interscope artist.
Bubba Sparxxx: Then why did Haystak get mentioned?
Allhiphop: Good point, I don’t know, he’s the next Big Punisher and they just wanted to hate probably, ‘cause they’re bluer than Papa Smurf sipping Hypnotic.
Bubba Sparxxx: (laughs) I know man, how could you not love Haystak, he’s done everything so by the book as far as coming up thru the independent seen, so how could you hate on that man.
Allhiphop: You know what’s even worse is now they got crackers singing R&B songs, like for instance your homeboy Justin Timberlake. So what was it like working with that infiltrator on your new album?
Bubba Sparxxx: Aww man J.T. ain’t no infiltrator, J.T. is the truth baby. J.T. got real talent, you can’t front on talent, you can front on anything but you cannot front on talent.
Allhiphop: Unlike some mags you’re actually trying to bring black and white hip-hop artists together via the movement you’ve christened “New South.” Please explain to the folks out there what New South is.
Bubba Sparxxx: Well the New South is by no means a reality; New South is a vision for the future. People 100 years from now will behave based on the trends we start today, just like we’re still paying for the mistakes of our ancestors down here in the South, being a white cat, from 150 years ago. And there’s still rage, deservingly so, down here from that. So based on the changes we can make today, the trends we can set today, there’s hope for the future 100-150 years from now. Basically the New South is just to dispel all of the negative stereotypes associated with the Old South, with the understanding that those stereotypes still exist. That can refer to rural backwardness, race relations, poor education, you know just everything, just trying to show that the South still has a long way to go in all those departments, but we’ve also come a long way.
Allhiphop: You’re gonna love this next question; who’s Jimmy Mathis?
Bubba Sparxxx: Jimmy Mathis is my Pop. That’s my Pops man.
Allhiphop: Was he digging the song?
Bubba Sparxxx: He’s one of these cats that sits back off his dirt road and don’t bother nobody, he don’t really wanna be bothered, so he was a little concerned when he first heard the record, having all of those people saying his real name. But slowly he’s come around, we got him in the video at the end part, he’s one of the two older gentlemen sitting out in front of the house, he’s the one on the right.
Allhiphop: And finally, this may be ancient history, but I don’t know if you ever got a chance to respond to another MC with three X’s at the end of his name who claimed your name was bitin’. Any response to Freddie Foxxx?
Bubba Sparxxx: I ain’t never even heard nothing about that. What did he say?
Allhiphop: I don’t have the quote in front of me so I don’t wanna put words in his mouth, but he said something to that effect, that your name was bitin’ him.
Bubba Sparxxx: Nah, that’s ridiculous.