Big Boi & Killer Mike: Hip-Hop Untied

Longevity. Creativity. Thoroughness. These characteristics embody what most artists hope for out of a career in the music industry, but very few are able to attain. So if there were a class offered to students studying the art of the Hip-Hop game, needless to say, Big Boi of the famed duo OutKast would serve as […]

Longevity. Creativity. Thoroughness. These characteristics embody what most artists hope for out of a career in the music industry, but very few are able to attain. So if there were a class offered to students studying the art of the Hip-Hop game, needless to say, Big Boi of the famed duo OutKast would serve as an ideal scholar. He has many under his tutelage – including the already noteworthy, Killer Mike.

Never without a few tricks up his sleeve, this southern gentleman is launching his new Purple Ribbon label, and Killer Mike’s here to forge the name in fame. Big Boi and Killer Mike recently sat down with to let us know what the legend and the aspiring have in store for the Rap game, with candid thoughts on the state of Rap today. How did you come about creating your new label, Purple Ribbon?

Big Boi: Dre didn’t want to be bothered with the whole headache of having a record company with Aquemini Records, so I just took it on by myself. I want to keep in the vein of what LaFace was when we got signed. Right now you’re working with some really good artists who are all as diverse as they come. What do you look for when signing new talent?

Big Boi: None of the artists we have is what’s out there right now, and that’s what I like about them. When signing someone new, I want to see what they got first. Most of the people on the label have been out five years or better. Everybody’s got their own sound; their own personality and they’re serious about their music. I don’t want to take on someone and sign them just to sign them; you have one hot song and put you out there. I want to build a career. So the artists that I’ve got, those are the ones I’m gonna concentrate on for the next few year. Bubba Sparxxx is a great lyricist. His album’s not really focusing on “country boy type s**t,” he’s just rhyming. Sleepy Brown, the third member of OutKast. I respect him musically. KonKrete are bringing that gangster, I have a weak spot for that hard, ghetto s**t. It’s not necessarily for the radio, but everything ain’t for the radio. And Scar is like a premier talent. He’s got one of the cleanest voices, excellent writer. We’re going to shock the world with him. Killer Mike is a dope MC, lyrically, and a smart person.

Killer Mike: [My album is] just that hard, ghetto, street s**t. It comes out August 30th. I got production with a lot of dudes on there man, my man SL Jones from Grind Time, of course OutKast, 8Ball & MJG, and Bun B. But all the features only amount to three or four songs, so I’m giving you your albums worth. Mike, your last album is often said to have been slept-on. What are your thoughts?

Killer Mike: Hell no I wasn’t happy with the way Monster was pushed. I did 80,000 the first week, came in at #10 on the Billboard charts and I walked into Target and they were sold out. That meant the record company didn’t send enough out. It’s not a good thing to be sold out at a Target or Wal Mart. So, but Sony was going through some kind of split, people got laid off, so I just came out at a peculiar time. My project had the legs to keep going, but it was just the right songs. “A.D.I.D.A.S.” came out, and it did well and got me a lot of exposure, but it didn’t keep me on tour and keep me eating. That South s**t did that, and this time, this album is a lot more of that. How did you get the name for the album to be Ghetto Extraordinary?

Killer Mike: It’s just a celebration of life and accomplishments. A “take nothing and do everything with it” mentality. If you made it out of that small country town and got out of college with a Bachelor’s or a Master’s, you’re ghetto extraordinary. If you a n***a that faced that time and beat that case, and now you have a business, no matter if it’s a car wash or a barbershop, you’re ghetto extraordinary. Look at Condoleeza Rice: that soul ass name sitting next to the president, that’s ghetto extraordinary! Lots of artists are shifting gears toward the executive side of the business and now you’re finding yourself working more hands on with other artists. Was it challenging to make that transition?

Big Boi: Not at all. I’ve always been about my business and on top of my business. You don’t build something like this for 10, 12, 15 years and spend your whole life doing something and don’t have anything to show for it. So I’ve been hands on. I’m definitely doing the executive thing. Being an artist is what I love, and hanging with my artists, it’s more of a family environment like when we first started out with the Dungeon [Family]. Big Boi, are there any established artists that you want to work with in the future?

Big Boi: Sade and Anita Baker. Me and Dre have been talking about that for the past ten years. Actually, I just did a song with Santana, J. Lo, one for the Sly Stone tribute album. Are you feeling any of the music that’s out today?

Big Boi: Not really. Music right now is in a funny place. It seems like they’ll play anything. I listen to a lot of old soul like Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, Patti LaBelle. But it’s all about what your preference is. The songs that they’re playing now might be simplistic, but the clubs make them hot and the way the people request them on the radio.

Killer Mike: Honestly, we’re in our best of times and our worst of times. Rap, it’s gotten so huge and so popular and accepted to where we can finally get the credit we deserve, get some of the monies we deserve and create opportunities for ourselves and others. The only drawback is, it’s so huge and commercially viable that sometimes we exchange some of our freedoms, we don’t let ourselves be as creative as we should be. I mean, n***as ain’t putting down fly s**t. And that’s what I’m trying to do with the new album- a lot of songs from off there, just came from me doing a freestyle. I want to just bring that MC’ing back. Since you and Dre are doing different things with your careers, do you see yourself done with the artist side of music completely in the future?

Big Boi: I’ll never be done with the artist side. Music is my first love. After I did Speakerboxx, doing that by myself was an experience and I loved it. Just having all creative control over everything and doing it how I wanted to do it and most of all showing people that OutKast is two people, even when we’re separated it’s still top notch. Mike, as you go onward to the next critical juncture, is everything in your career where you want it to be?

Killer Mike: Everything’s never going to be right, but you just gotta work very hard at doing your part. I once heard Paul [from Three Six Mafia] say, “All you can do is hope and promote,” and that’s what it’s about. I got a home and a few cars and I ain’t mad at that, but I want it to where revenues is coming in whether I’m on tour or not.

Be a presence on the mixtape scene, get your own company, do other side hustles to get you paper and move on. What are some of your side hustles now?

Killer Mike: My main thing is Real Estate. Buy, flip houses, build houses, rent houses. I’m starting small right now, but my goal is that in 365 days be a little bigger, and another 365 days, be a little bigger. In closing, I gotta ask Big Boi this, with all the awards, accolades and the contribution you have made to the world of Hip-Hop, how do you stay so grounded?

Big Boi: That’s how my grandmamma and my mama raised me. That’s what I know. I’m till the same ‘Twan that people know from back in the day. This person might be a layer, a sports agent or might just work at The Home Depot, but they’re all human. It’s all about how you treat people. I never in a million years expected to be doing some of this. It’s been a blessing. I’m real close with the Most High anyway, so I just try to live good, treat people how you want to be treated, work hard and the rewards come with that. I don’t want to see anybody do bad, I don’t want to wrong nobody, that’ s why OutKast don’t ever have no beefs, we’re all about making positive music that people can live and relate to.