Interview with Bubba Sparxxx | By Jason Fullerton
Born and raised in LaGrange, GA, Bubba Sparxxx was submerged in country life from an early age. As he got into his teens, his surroundings were changing in the rural area where he grew up. Various drug epidemics had penetrated his small neck of the woods, and the reality of life in the country had begun to shift. Folks were still hard working, and had traditional values, but drugs and violence had become more prevalent as a new generation of boys and girls became man and women in this hostile environment. In many ways, the lower class started to identify as much with Hip-Hop as country music. In terms of people riding around listening to both genres, this musical adventure was developing organically long before a “country rap” song was ever recorded.
Bubba’s first album was released in 2001, entitled Dark Days Bright Nights. It was obvious as to which audience they wanted to reach, but knowing exactly how to reach them wasn’t as simple. This was also the same dilemma they ran into with the release of Bubba’s second studio album, Deliverance, released a couple years later. Collaborating with Organized Noize and Timbaland, two of the most accomplished and respected names in Hip-Hop, they had a accomplished creative team committed to marrying the two genres.
As bold as Deliverance was, it was probably too big of a leap forward to win commercially when it was released in 2003. The record label was still marketing, and promoting the “old way” and spending tons of money at radio and trying to get MTV and BET to play the music video. It was also at a time when Lil’ Jon had the whole world “crunk.”
“What I’ve learned is that if you make one friend in ten years in the music business… Consider yourself fortunate… As long as they need you, as long as your hot they’ll treat you well, they’ll pick up your phone calls, when that’s no longer the case they don’t have time for you”
Deliverance had failed by Interscope Records’ standards and as Bubba plainly explains his family “couldn’t eat critical acclaim.” Keeping that harsh reality in mind during the production of his 2006 release titled, The Charm, a conscious effort was made to play it a little safer, and head back towards the ‘grey area’. From that third studio album, “Ms. New Booty” was released to radio, propelling Bubba to the top of the radio playlists, peaking at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Back in the studio once again with his new label home, Backroad Records, Bubba has taken the time to sharpen his unique sound while observing recent accomplishments of close friends Colt Ford and Shannon “Fat Shan” Houchins who have built a huge following making music their own way without apology. His new LP Pain Management was released October 15th.
Check out Bubba’s brand new video for “Bangin'” below featuring Dan Rockett and a cameo from Fred Durst!
I have to say that Bubba is one of the most genuine people I have had the pleasure of speaking with. He was quick to recognise my accent and judge correctly that I am indeed from Scotland. We spoke on this subject for some time, and also the fact that I use The Dude from “The Big Lebowski” as my avatar was to his liking and it was met with ‘a most radical impression’ if I must say so myself. We spoke for roughly an hour with twenty minutes of that being the interview itself. I wish I could share some of the things we spoke about but I’m afraid we “Country Folk” wouldn’t interest y’all.
Check out what Bubba had to say below.
You were born and raised in LaGrange, Georgia which happens to be a vast rural area, considering you were so far away from any major cities, how was it you first came into contact with the Hip-Hop scene?
Well what happened was my closest neighbour, even though he lived about half a mile from me, he had a cousin that was from up on the east coast, somewhere like Philly or New York I never knew for sure. He would send us mixtapes that he would record off of the radio stations up there. He would send us one like once every two or three months and we just listened to that mixtape until literally the tank exploded. That was my first introduction.
Who were some of your main influences musically growing up in the south?
I mean I listened to all kinds of stuff from RUN-DMC to EPMD to Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Gang Starr, N.W.A., Too Short, really anything I could get my hands on back in those days. The first group I ever heard that really inspired me was Outkast. When I heard Outkast that definitely made me believe that perhaps one day I could be a participant in Hip-Hop culture.
You actually collaborated with Big Boi under his Purple Ribbon label.
Yeah! So how cool was that!? There was a time I was signed to Big Boi of Outkast’s label, crazy thinking back.
I can only imagine. It’s been seven years since your last LP The Charm, what were the main reasons behind the hiatus and why do you feel now is the right time to release a new album?
I have been through a lot of personal struggles with drugs, the disease of addiction and so on and so forth and as a result of that, among other personal issues, I took a year and a half off from music all together. Besides from that I was signed to a record label pretty much the whole time (E1 Entertainment) for four or five years and really the reason I never put out an album was because we could never get on the same page with those guys. So we were finally able to get out of that contract and come up with a new arrangement with this independent label Average Joe’s and that’s why I guess.
“Country Rap” is a term that has been getting thrown around a lot these days with dudes like Tim McGraw and Colt Ford although when you first came out that term never really existed. Would you consider yourself an innovator within this genre as you clearly bridged a lot of those cultural gaps?
I would say that no one could dispute the fact that I am the beginning of Country Rap. Because when you say County Rap, to me I think of The Dungeon Family, UGK, 8 Ball & MJG but in the sense of how it’s portrayed now, with rural culture being on display in the realm of Hip-Hop, no one can ever dispute that I’m your guy as far as the origins of that is concerned. I would never take ownership completely for what it’s morphed into and how it’s evolved and developed because it’s certainly turned into things that I never envisioned, but if you check your dates you can see that it started with me.
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