(Editor's Note: Mike Bigga (aka Killer Mike) will bring appear at the AllHiphop Social Lounge on October 17 (with Saigon, Raekwon and others) in Newark, NJ at the NJPAC Center. Click here for details and to purchase tickets.)
Although he dropped killer from his moniker, Mike Bigga (formerly known as Killer Mike) says his killer instincts for making good music is whats propelling him to move on to bigger and better things. Mainly, his new venture with T.I. and Grand Hustle, which include a solo album at the top of next year, with the lions share of production done by DJ Toomp. Until then, Mike took it upon himself to unify Atlantas rap scene into a two-disk compilation CD titled, Underground Atlanta, featuring T.I., Gucci Mane, and Soulja Boy. Mike recently sat down to talk about Atlantas musical diversity, how to take Jay-Zs crown, Obama drama and dumb Black folks with no agenda.
AllHipHop.com: Underground Atlanta is like a mixtape that highlights what Atlantas rap scene has to offer. Is this a way of showcasing that Atlanta still produces a variety of music like the days of Dungeon Family, Pastor Troy, Raheem the Dream, Kilo Ali, etc?
Mike Bigga: For people who dont know in 1994 Atlanta was essentially dominated by bass music, Florida and Miami in particular. So you had that element of funky, wild out good time. OutKast and Goodie Mob provided that lyrical substance, a more in-depth look at the south besides partying. You had Kilo Ali, you had all of these artists that were doing different things but it was all centered around this city called Atlanta and I wanted the record to feel like that.
Only in the minds of commercial listeners in other places do B.o.B does not belong next to the [Dem] Get-A-way Boyz. In Atlanta, we were never like that Atlanta is a place where black people be on different vibes: Im artisty, Im lyrical, Im trapped out, Im swagged out, but everybody parties together. So I wanted to show that despite what the world says, this city stands alone.
AllHipHop.com: With you now having access to bigger resources through Grand Hustle you could have pulled in some top-notched producers for this project. Why did you choose to let Brandon Matthews produce most of the tracks?
Mike Bigga: For those that remember in the late 80s, early 90s one or two producers customarily would do the whole album. If you look at Cash Money, Manny Fresh; if you look at Dungeon Family, Organized Noize; Master P, Beats By tha Pound. Theres a group called DMG thats owned by a guy named Brandon Matthews. He was an intern at Grind Time then doing some salary work, helped put together Pledge 1, the Killer mixtape, so hes really a part of the Grind Time family. Hes a young brother who went out, got his own studio, got his own production team so I said why dont I just pay yall to produce, mix and master the whole record. And it made sense because of the diversity of the beats. Theres a few other producers that are on here, but for the most part, I wanted a more cohesive sound.
"Nothing that you do during the day benefits you. And if all you have to be proud of is a Black president I feel sorry for you lazy, worthless, shiftless n****s."
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people know you for being a true lyricist who is politically and socially aware. What do you say to those who might be shocked to see Soulja Boy and Gucci Mane on this project?
Mike Bigga: The best descriptions of me that I see is nobody has balanced God and gangsta like Mike since Tupac or since Scarface and those the comparisons I have when you hit the blogs up. It took a long time for people to get it. My whole thing is Im not gonna deny the God or gangsta in me. Im a man. Im conflicted. I want women to keep their head up and I love strippers, all at the same time.
Im going to give people all of Michael. And its not trying to be at your detriment, but I dont have a problem with Gucci Mane because I know him from when we had no record deal and we was begging DJ Funky to play our records. I dont have a problem with OJ [Da Juiceman]. Thats a segment of Atlanta I want represented. Im being true to myself. My father was an Atlanta policeman. My mother was a known trafficker. So I gotta be true to all of me Im an intellectual. Im a educated villain, but Im still a villain.
"The cheap way [to diss somebody] is to talk about how someone look or someones age ... That aint how you beat Michael Jordan. You beat Michael Jordan by getting a f**kin basketball and shoot that muthaf**ka religiously. "
AllHipHop.com: T-Pain recently called Jay-Z old, which puts the spotlight on a generational divide in hip hop. In your opinion, why are young artists attacking him?
Mike Bigga: Well, Jay Z is the measuring stick, like, rap is a fraternity. I feel a lot of the young artists and a lot of the artists my age, what they trying to do is, instead of trying to get over the bar in a legit way and say, Jay Imma one-up you by a song, they trying to do it the cheap way.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the cheap way?
Mike Bigga: The cheap way is to talk about how someone look or someones age or talk about a song they made or talk about who they party with or talk about what they wear. That aint how you beat Michael Jordan. You beat Michael Jordan by getting a f**kin basketball and shoot that muthaf**ka religiously. Sleeping with it, waking up with it, taking it to lunch with you, shooting after practice, shooting before the game. Thats the only way you gon do it. So my whole thing is I dont have no envy or jealousy because if you listen to Poppin Tags, oh I shook the building up. I know what I can do next to an icon whether its Jay Z, Big Boi, Bun B I have that supreme confidence, these other young men dont have that. Cause that supreme confidence is gonna have you say I love Jay, I cant wait to compete with him This is what Ive been practicing for, this is what Ive been shooting these threes for I dont know T-Pains beef or any rappers beef. I just know for me, you gotta take a crown. Until you do that, shut the f**k up.
AllHipHop.com: How much does Jay Zs moves as a businessman change the culture of hip hop and its social status?
Mike Bigga: If we talking about Jay Z and business, this is no disrespect, but I never think of Jay-Z and business as solely Jay-Z. Me being a Rocafella and Jay-Z fan since the first single, not the first album, the first gotdamn single when he still rapped fast, thats how long Ive been a fan, so but I never disassociate Dame and Biggs from the business. The first time I saw Dame Dash, he had a arm full of Rocafella records making DJs play it in the club. To see him with the street team doing that made an impression on me.
When I went into the studio with Jay and to see his calm and his resolve, you know when a rapper has that type of calm that theres someone working on his behalf to make sure the bulls**t dont land in his lap But I really have to say when I look at how great he has become as a business icon in terms of being inspiring to young African Americans men that aint trying to be rappers, thats trying to be businessmen, and business owners, I cannot separate that from Dame and Kareem Biggs. Every building is foundation first and truly man Damon Dash is a cornerstone of that. Whatever beef that got personally, I aint taking no sides, that dont matter to me. Im speaking as a Rocafella fan."When Tip steps out I want him to step out to a moving running engine. I
want him to come out happier than the day before he went in."-Mike Bigga
AllHipHop.com: Lets talk about Grand Hustle. Youve done the label thing before, first with Sony, then with Purple Ribbon, which led to you not speaking to your friend for three years. What made you sign with T.I.s label? What do you hope to be different this time around?
Mike Bigga: I dont know how it will be different. Let me tell you how it has been different. I came in here, I made dope music, the dope music went out on vinyal and went out on mixtapes immediately. It wasnt no waiting, no holding to see what happens. It got taken to radio and radio is hittin the single in my city right now. No waiting, no holding it. I came in here with thoughts of how I wanted to look, the name change. We didnt have to wait to bring anybody extra in. Hannah got on that immediately.So if youre a pro-active artist then this is the place to be. If youre in the streets trying to work it yourself, most of these artists are, Big Kuntry is one especially, once they see your wheels spinning, theyll get behind your car and push it. And that is a really unique place to be at. To be around people thats about the grind. People are eating. When people know theres an opportunity for everybody, it eliminates that air of backbiting and Im happy. When Tip steps out I want him to step out to a moving running engine. I want him to come out happier than the day before he went in. I want him to say wow look at what yall managed to do while Ive been gone.
AllHipHop.com: Everybody knows youre very outspoken when it comes to President Obama. How would you grade him on this health care reform? Do you feel
Mike Bigga: To all my good Black people any statement I make, it aint just about your president or our president. I am going to be as hypercritical on any president. I dont want people to think I was trying to disrespect my president when I said the thing on rollingout.com that I gave a C. I just looked at it like this is midterms. When youre in school everybody had that one teacher that gave everybody a C on their midterm. Youd be like why I get a C? Shed be like because everybodys average right now.
Thats not bad, not good either. He is where I expect any president to be. When this health care bill pass that C immediately goes up to a B+ and that has less to do with our president and more to do with Democrats in both Houses supporting our president. Right now Black women get struck with breast cancer more than anybody else. Black women endure abortions more than anybody else. So I know when that health care bill pass I know every BAlack woman got insurance immediately. Thats the big test. Every politically astute person knows that. He knows that.
AllHipHop.com: Youve been the biggest critic on not having a Black agenda
Mike Bigga: Let me help Black people understand something: I dont just talk this s**t. At least for two hours out of my day Im reading or watching Claud Anderson or John Henrik Clarke. Go google them to see what they have to say about a Black economic agenda, a Black socialization agenda. For those who say why we need a Black agenda, I want you to get your dumb ass up in the morning, look at them clothes and see if any of them are made by Black people. No they not.
They made by little Brown people who are underpaid and overworked. Then I want you to go to the refrigerator. You didnt buy that s**t from a Black coop, you bought it from a White chain grocer, a corporation. So you didnt produce none of the food because they have taken over 30 million acres of land from Black farmers over the past 70, 80 years. Then you go to the gas station and you think he look like you, so you say hey wussup brother, and he dont respond to you because he aint on your agenda. Why? Because hes on the East Indian agenda. Hes on the Saudi Arabian agenda. So it sounds to me like, n****s, you need to make one. Nothing that you do during the day benefits you. And if all you have to be proud of is a Black president I feel sorry for you lazy, worthless, shiftless n****s.
Hello, Mike Bigga.
Later, Killer Mike