Killer Mike Talks Underground Atlanta, And OutKast
Due in August, Underground Atlanta is Killer Mike and his Grind Time Official’s first foray into compilation releases. U. A. is a uniquely varied assemblage of songs representing all of ATL’s different stylistic movements, featuring artists ranging from Andre 3000-inspired alternative acts to the trap rappers inspired by the likes of T.I., Young Jeezy, and even Mike himself.
“This record really kinda shows you a few of the different Atlanta’s that make this a place … a real – I hate to say melting pot, but it really is a gumbo of what’s going on in young, urban America,” Mike explained to DX of the diversity in his city that spawned this release. “What I did was, I knew that there had been other [Atlanta-based] compilations. I knew So So Def had did a Bass All-Stars, that dealt with like the club crowd and the street crowd. And I knew that Big Oomp had done his compilation, which is like an example of what’s going on in the Atlanta streets … And you know the Dungeon Family had did a record together, but nobody’s ever took all these different [styles] and said for the first time what we’re gonna do is put all this on one record, so people can see all of Atlanta. … I’m very proud to be the catalyst for that. Because a lot of people could’ve done it, but I think that because a lot of self-interest has been involved over the years I think that a lot of people never did it. So I’m glad to be the guy who did.”
Anchored by the album’s thumping lead single, “Imma Fool Wit It” featuring fellow Grand Hustle soldier Big Kuntry King [click to listen], Underground Atlanta also boasts a jaw-dropping collabo between Mike, T.I., and visitor to the ATL affair, Bun B.
“We did a ‘Playaz Down South (remix)’that was never released, and I’m sliding this one out,” Mike revealed. “I just gave that to people as a bonus, as an extra.”
Additional all-star appearances on U. A. include Gucci Mane, OJ Da Juiceman, Soulja Boy, Shawty Lo, Pastor Troy, Princess (formerly of Crime Mob), Da Backwudz (“Reunited,” Mike revealed of the duo, “and they put down a smash for Decatur called ‘The Eastside’), Slimm Calhoun (“I hate to say comeback, but he came back strong, man,” Mike noted of his fellow Dungeon Family second generation alum), Mr. Bentley (“Droppin’ a dope verse,” said Mike of the From G’s To Gents host), Scar (“Doing an R&B joint on here, which I jumped on,” Mike revealed of the reunion of former Purple Ribbon artists), as well as several underground ATL artists who might be unfamiliar to a national audience including Yung Ralph, Jabar, Dem Get Away Boyz, the Rich Kids, and many others.
Although he is featured on nearly half the compilation’s songs, the general of the Grind Time Rap Gang ensured fans of his solo work that he is still coming with a new Killer Mike album soon, his Grand Hustle debut 16 In The Kitchen.
“The album is honestly weeks away from being done,” he revealed. “Like, I would imagine two more weeks and it’s done.”
16 In The Kitchen is shaping up to be the major-label sponsored magnum opus Killer Mike faithful have been waiting on for years. The disc sports a long-overdue collabo with fellow ATL lyricist Ludacris, “Still My Nigga Though,” which Mike described as “the closest you’ve heard to a 2Pac song, the closest you’ve heard to a ‘Keep Ya Head Up,’ to a ‘I Ain’t Mad At Cha’ since ‘Pac died.” Another union of A-Town heavyweights on 16 may actually top that, as T.I. and Mike go in over a No I.D. track for the album’s first single “Ready, Set, Go!”
“And I got a collaboration with Fantasia that’s absolutely amazing,” Mike continued, running down some of the eye-catching collabos on 16. “And me and Cee-Lo talked … So you’re gonna hear me [on] my Dungeon Family dream duet … I ain’t just going to get no Cee-Lo hook, I’m going for the Cee-Lo verse! Just know that this album is going to be absolutely incredible. And everything is going to change from here after this record. This here is [going to be] my gold [or] platinum moment.”
While a Cee-Lo collaboration looks like a promising possibility for Mike’s return-to-the-majors release, it looks as though any collaborating with the other legendary lyricist from the Dungeon Family is not going to happen for the album, or any other Mike-helmed release for that matter.
“I’m not,” said Mike of his release plans for the track he recorded with Andre 3000 last year, “Guns & Glory” [click to read]. “To be honest with you, I think I’m just kind of past that moment in music. I don’t really see myself making music with Big [Boi] and Dre again.”
Mike further explained to DX that he tried in vein to reach out to Big Boi after last summer’s reunion caught on tape by Atlanta-based music journalist Maurice Garland [click to watch].
“Tip helped me understand it,” said Mike of his seemingly never-ending struggle to square things away with Big Boi. “What Tip and I were talking about was somebody that wanted him on the song that he didn’t rock with. And he was like, ‘If I do it bruh, it’s only gonna help him.’ He was like, ‘If it’s cool it’s cool, but I don’t have no reason to do music with him.’ And it helped me to understand that maybe if I were to do music with OutKast in this moment right now, it would do more to help me. And that’s not why I wanna do the music. I wanna do the music ‘cause the music is dope and the fans deserve it. But as long as it can be seen in that power vacuum, I don’t think its gonna happen. So, let me be about the business of being successful, and me be about the business of continuing to push forth on my own merit, and maybe I’ll do a ‘Walk It Out’ remix and they’ll wanna get on it.”
Mike’s unstoppable grind is sure to grab more than just Big and Dre’s attention in the coming months, as "Killa Kill" is currently prepping the release of three more albums in addition to 16 In The Kitchen.
“Dope Stories is still on the map and it’s coming,” Mike revealed to DX of his narrative-driven side project [click to read]. “Dope Stories has to be recorded with live instrumentation. And to be honest, like the gambler said in the gambling house, ‘I just gotta get my bankroll up.’ [Laughs] I got some tracks done, the tracks are absolutely dope. Some of them have samples, and they’re really rich in terms of where they are now. But until I bring in those live instruments and just pluck ‘em all the way out, I’m not comfortable with the music being out there. So ‘Dope Stories’ will probably be out in 2010.”
“Pledge III is gonna [also] come out in ’10,” he continued. “I’m probably gonna take this winter and record Pledge III. III is probably gonna be done by two producers, one of them being Tha Bizness. … [And the other being] Smiff & Cash. … No I.D.’s probably gonna throw me a track [also]. But I really am trying to develop a whole sound … Now, my dilemma is this, I don’t know if the next [release on Grind Time] is gonna be a solo record from one of the members [of Grind Time Rap Gang] or it’s gonna be a Grind Time Rap Gang compilation. What’s gonna determine that is people hitting us up on Myspace, on Twitter, people hitting up the message boards saying, ‘I want an album from S.L. Jones. I want an album from Pill. I want an album from Bill Collector. I want an album from Nario.’ Because people who been following Grind Time, they are familiar with the other players in it now. So, in 90 days you’re going to hear another Grind Time record. … This [has been] an album-a-year, in terms of Pledge last year and now Underground Atlanta [this year]. I’m not gonna be happy until [my] company is putting out a minimum of four or five albums a year.”
For a preview of Underground Atlanta, and to hit Mike up to let him know what you think should be the next release from Grind Time [click here].
To cop Mike’s current mixtapes with Grind Time artists S.L. Jones (So You Wanna Be A Gangsta?), Pill (4180: The Prescription), and Da Bill Collector [click here].
Underground Atlanta is due August 18 from Grind Time Official/SMC Recordings.