Rapper Big Pooh: Give And Go
Still, even the greatest of team players get a few offensive plays ran for themselves. And Poohs no exception. Delightful Bars, the rappers recently-released CD dropped in four slightly-different versions, is Poohs time in the limelight. HipHopDX caught up with the rapping all-star during a recent timeout to get his thoughts on the recording process, playing Tays wing man and, yes, loving basketball.
HipHopDX: Is there a difference in the preparation when its a solo project compared to a group one?
Rapper Big Pooh: Yeah, its definitely a little different approach. Thats only because the dynamic changes. You dont have to go to another person and sit and talk out how youre going to do things. Theres no having to compromise some of the things that you wanna do for the greater good of the group. Its just you. Its about the direction you wanna go in and how you wanna do it. Thats the biggest difference.
DX: Your chemistry with Phonte seems genuine. Would you say you and he agree 50% of the time? 80%? More? Less?
Rapper Big Pooh: We agree probably, at this point, about 80% of the time. Thats only because weve been able to work together for so many years. We kinda know how each other works. We kinda know what each other likes and dont like. Also, when it comes to doing Little Brother [click to read] stuff, I kinda sit back and let Phonte take lead. You cant have too many cooks in the kitchen. I have no problem stepping back and letting him take lead. But at the same time, I still voice my opinion.
DX: It takes a big man to acknowledge that you cant have two Kobe Bryants on one squad.
Rapper Big Pooh: Exactly. Thats one of the things I learned early on I used to play sports- is that when you have too many people [trying to lead] then you have nothing.
DX: Pooh, if you were describing yourself to someone relatively new to Little Brother, how would you describe yourself besides being a team player?
Rapper Big Pooh: Honest. Straight-forward. No frills. Those would probably be the words that Id use first because Im a straight-forward person when Im on the mic. Thats how I am in person as well outside of rap. Im not a punchline-heavy guy. I can do stories, but I dont do that too much. I just put it out there in plain black and white. No extras to it. This is what it is. This is what its gonna be. Some people take to that. Some people dont.
DX: With regards to the people take and dont take to the Little Brother sound, do you follow the blogs and Hip Hop sites much?
Rapper Big Pooh: Yeah, yeah. I try to keep up a lil bit. I dont follow it deeply and read every single thing, but things that catch my attention, I definitely read a bit and see what people say.
DX: Whats the biggest misconception about you?
Rapper Big Pooh: The biggest misconception I think about me is that Im replaceable. Most people who criticize me feel that you could put anybody in my position and the group would be fine or whatever. I think people really misunderstand the role I play in Little Brother. Just that whole thing, period. They dont understand the whole inner-workings of whats going on. Because Im the type of person that allows Phonte to take lead or allows Phonte and 9th [Wonder] [click to read] to do they thing, people just thought I didnt do nothin. Thats just them not understanding me. But like I said earlier, Im the type of person that sees when you have somebody thats more than capable of taking lead [you let them]. Everybody dont have the personality and everybodys not strong enough to step back. Because I did step back, you get, Ah, you can take Pooh out and put such-and-such in and theyd be better. Nah, thats not the case. Everybody cant work with them two. Everybody cant work with Te. It takes my personality to have us work the way we work. Just like it takes his personality to mix with mine to make us work the way we work. I think a lot of people just underestimate the things I bring to the table.
DX: Nah, from your first joint Sleepers to Get Back to Delightful Bars, cats should definitely see that you know your way around the recording booth.
Rapper Big Pooh: Thank you. That was from me stepping back and just being able to take a lot of stuff and learn a lot of things, just watching Phonte work and watching 9th work. It was kinda being developed without it being developed. Being able to do that meant a lot to my development, period.
DX: What are some of the biggest signs of development from Sleepers up to this new album?
Rapper Big Pooh: Just becoming a better songwriter. Being able to put together songs a lot more efficiently than it was able to before. Learning how to write hooks and all those necessary things. I still have a whole lot of work to do, but Ive come a long way from where I first started. I think thats the most recognizable thing in my growth that a lot of people will be able to see if they go back to my first record up until now. My confidence [too]. You can hear the confidence that I have going from then to now. You can really hear it on record.
DX: You almost have a lil arrogance on a few Delightful Bars tracks.
Rapper Big Pooh: Yeah, you gotta have that. Thats part of being a rapper. Part of being an emcee is that you have to have that. If people dont hear and dont believe you have it, they dont believe you. Thats something you gotta have. Thats something that comes out from time to time. This is me holdin my dick a lil bit. No matter what people say or what comments people may have, I know what I do and I know my capabilities. Real talk, Ive been in this game since 2001. There aint too many people thats been in the game eight years and still have relevance. No matter what people say about me, Im still going.
DX: Are there any aspirations for Billboard covers and car commercials?
Rapper Big Pooh: For me, I just look at it like this: If those things end up coming, then they come. I have no problem being on the cover of Billboard. But I just think that as Ive been in this game for eight years, Im just a person that realizes I have to do it on the terms that I want to do it on. If it comes with me doing it the way I wanna do it, thats more the better. But if I have to do something I know I dont wanna do or be ashamed of some of the things I did to get that look, whats the point of doing it if I cant look myself in the mirror? If it never comes and Im still able to live at the level Im living at comfortably, it is what it is. If it does come, the more the merrier. Ive been living the good life outta just music since 2003. I havent had a job that I actually had to punch a clock since then. I think Ive done pretty good for myself.
DX: What else are you great at?
Rapper Big Pooh: Im a sports fanatic, man. I could get a job on ESPN. Thats one of the things I aspire to do- something in sports. I love sports more than I love music. Straight up and down. Ill tell anybody that any day of the week. Sports is number one. Its at the top of my list. College basketball, football, professional basketball, baseball. I do a lil bit of hockey. I love sports. Im starting to get into soccer a lil bit. I just love it. That competitiveness and that intensity, theres just something about it that you cant get anywhere else.
DX: If you had a NBA MVP vote, who would get it?
Rapper Big Pooh: Im giving it to LeBron James. The reason Im giving it to LeBron James is not to say that Kobe [Bryant] didnt have a phenomenal year. Number one, its only between LeBron and Kobe in my opinion. No [Dwayne Wade]. DWade dont elevate his team the way LeBron James elevates his team, or the way that Kobes learned to elevate the people around him. DWade can do it but he hasnt done it to the level that either of the others have done it. I just think that LeBron can do everything. When you watch that team play, its like looking at a college team like one of [Mike Krzyzewskis] teams [at Duke]. Everybody cheers for each other. He makes everybody around him better. Its just something about that. You just dont get that on too many NBA teams. I dont know if you could put too many people in his place on that team and get the same results.
DX: What kind of projects do you have lined up for the rest of 09 and going into 10?
Rapper Big Pooh: Im still releasing the different versions of Delightful Bars [click to read]. Im doing some spot tapes. Hopefully, Ill jump on a tour or something in the fall. Little Brother Left Back EP/DVD coming up by the end of the year. Hopefully, at the top of 10, Dirty, Pretty Things on Barak Records, the home of Slum Village [click to read].
DX: What was the thought process behind the different versions of Delightful Bars?
Rapper Big Pooh: A lot of people ask the same question and I tell them all the time, it was just the presentation. Normally, when we do records, we have extra songs or different versions. iTunes gets an extra. Best Buy gets an extra. Theres a European and Japanese version. Instead of doing it the regular way, I decided to present it a little differently, just to see how it would play out. Thats why I decided to create the four different versions. You have different covers for each version. You not only have [some] different songs, but Im changing the song order. Im taking songs off. Im moving songs. If you already have the iTunes version, and youre debating if you wanna buy the North American version, it gives you extra incentive. Now you have totally different artwork, different songs. It just gives you that extra incentive. Just doing something different, man.
DX: Youre trying to eat four different ways, huh?
Rapper Big Pooh: Hopefully. But if I only eat one or two, Im happy with that. But four will never hurt.
DX: Any new producers working with yall on the upcoming Little Brother project?
Rapper Big Pooh: Not on this project. Like I said, this is just an EP, mostly comprised of songs that we never finished, or finished and they didnt make the cut for Get Back [click to read]. Thats why its titled Left Back. Youre not going to see a whole host of producers. Maybe when we sit back and start thinking about the next actual Little Brother album, some of that will come into play. Not with the EP.