Big Mike: Free Man

Before Killer Mike was the talk of Hotlanta, Big Mike was the adopted son of H-Town. By way of The Geto Boys’ personnel change, Mike began his Rap career in a predator’s position on everybody else. Outside of the mid-years with the Geto Boys, Mike’s solo albums like Still Serious remain critical gems in Rap-A-Lot’s catalog. With his Convicts group, Big Mike was also a never released group in the earliest days of Suge Knight’s Death Row Records.

A lot has changed in the last eight years though. No longer with the Geto Boys or Rap-A-Lot, Big Mike returned home from almost four years of prison in a challenging position: the independent Blackstone Entertainment. With New Orleans Phats on the way, Big Mike aims to recapture some of the momentum lost, using the very love that’s sustained him all along. In an interview with, Mike discusses his prison sentence, his respect for both Young Buck and Young Bleed, and how he taught his label a lesson, the hard way. How do you feel about the changes in the Rap game since your time being locked up?

Big Mike: Man, I’ve seen some positive and not-so-positive changes. The positive thing is a lot more artists coming out and putting it down for the region, the South has really taken a hold of the game. I don’t’ see too much originality; don’t see a lot of cats trying to push the limits. I feel like a lot of cats pulling a lot of copycat moves, you know what I mean. They see a certain individual going platinum and selling records, with a certain style of song, and they just want to follow that trend. What we have right now are some trendy rappers, and nobody setting the trends. I think that’s kinda hurting the game right now. I think it is kind of short changing the fans and the public out there that supports this Rap music. You never really left the game, but what makes you want to continue on as a Rap artist; your drive?

Big Mike: Man, s**t this is what I do. When I was locked up, I just stayed on my pen, I wrote about 1700 hundred songs, during my three and a half year incarceration. This is all I know how to do and all I desire to do. My passion for the game has increased greatly. I don’t call it coming back, I never left! While I was in there, I was following the game. Just my passion and love for the game and the drive in me. During what years were you incarcerated, and during those years did any rapper come out that really impressed you?

Big Mike: I was locked up for three and a half started at the beginning of 2001. I like Young Buck; I like Young Buck, he making a lot of positive noise for the South right now. If there was a guy who I desiring to do a song with right now it would definitely be Young Buck, that’s my type of rapper right there, I like his aggressiveness and the way he attack the tracks, he keep it Southern straight through, even though he with East Coast cats, he still being him, and it’s not really rubbing off on him. Yeah, Buck, I cut for that cat right there. I like T.I., I don’t think that he the King of the South though, you still got to put it down, if you want to get that you got to be putting it down for a number of years or what not. He doing his thing, definitely. As far as the new album, who do you have collaborations with?

Big Mike: With the new album, I am just messing with cats out of my camp. The Affiliated Gang that is a group that consists of two of my younger brothers, a younger sister, and a couple of my cousins. My guy Mankind, who I was actually doing time with, met him while I was doing time. 4-3 and Sly Fox, all three of those guys was locked up that’s why we came together and made a group; talk about that inside life and things like that. I don’t have no big name appearances, not that I wouldn’t of liked to have them, it’s just that when I got out I worked with what I had and I am pleased with what came about. In the future you will get some of that, it’s just that I have to get back out here and get my name back out. Do you still have a tight relationship with the Geto Boys, how does that work?

Big Mike: Nah, I don’t really see those cats, man. I done spoke to Willie D over the phone and stuff like that, he keep it real. I spoke to Bushwick over the phone. I haven’t seen or heard from ‘Face since I been out, but I don’t go around looking for guys. I don’t have any dealings with anything over there at Rap-A-Lot, it’s no love lost or nothing like that, it’s just that the relationship was severed. Was Still Serious your last album on Rap-A-Lot?

Big Mike: No, I actually had Hard to Hit, around the beginning of ’98. What caused you to leave Rap-A-Lot?

Big Mike: Disputes: contractual disputes, financial disputes, and things like that. Things had kind of got ugly between us and it had got on some real gangsta s**t. Matter of fact, that’s how I caught the charge that landed my three and a half years in the penitentiary. Things kind of got out of hand and resulted in some real street s**t. That’s in the past now, I’m not really trippin’, because I have been blessed man. God kept his hand on me throughout the whole ordeal, and brought me back out, so I am not in a position to hold any grudges. It ain’t no secret everybody knows what went down, especially cats that keep their ears to the streets, it’s a new day now; I’m just on that level, I am just trying to do me. Speaking of incarceration. How is your relationship with U.G.K., you all had a few tracks together in the past?

Big Mike: Pimp C did “Havin Thangs”. Bun had a feature with me on a song called, “On the One”. I have seen Bun since I got out, but haven’t had chance to talk to ‘em. Pimp C, we was writing each other back and forth, cause he was coming into the penal system when I was already there. Tell him to keep his head up and stay away from them suckers, stay sucker free. Do what you got to do and come on home. I respect those guys, I got love for ‘em and things like that. A lot of artists who come out of situation, for example, the dope game; compare the Rap game to the dope game and used lessons learned from their former vocation in their Rap career…

Big Mike: Well, my time in jail made me focused on what’s important. It helped me strengthen my drive, the things that drive me in life. I took that energy and used the energy in a positive way. I channeled it through my music, it showed me how strong I was, the s**t you got to put up with while you down there, you know what I mean. Some cats break down underneath that kind of pressure. It showed me how strong I was as a person, man… helped me get my matters straight with the good Lord and things. It allowed me to see him working in my life, amidst all that turmoil and confusion down there, God provided me with an area of peace. I just took that energy man and just channeled it through my music, that’s why I am so hungry right now. I see that I need to take advantage of opportunities. Understand, you got to stay working, stay on there like it’s your first time, this is what keeps you sharp and this is what keeps you ahead of the game. All these other cats, there motivation is money; and I understand we got to have money everybody want it and everybody need it in most cases, but I learned not to let money be the motivation for what I do, I do this Rap music because I love it, I try not to let money drive me. Once you let money be your motivation, you will change in all that you do. I try not to let the paper chase interfere with how I put it down. Do you feel any pressure with this album, New Orleans Phats ?

Big Mike: Nah, just looking forward to the album coming out and the people getting their hands on it. I don’t feel no pressure at all. I am comfortable with what I do, who I am as a person and who I am as an artist. Listening to you speak, you remind of an interview I did with Youngbleed, just curious, do you two know one another?

Big Mike: Yeah, I am familiar with dude, we used to chop it up on the phone every now and then, I really cut for his s**t, that’s a cat that I really cut for. He can get pretty deep, exercise my mind…I cut for Bleed man. Right before I got locked up we had plans to do some s**t together, I am going to get with Bleed man. I need to do some s**t with him, because I do feel we are on the same level.