Rapper Big Pooh Unwraps Delightful Bars
For a certain sect of Hip-Hop, 9th Wonder leaving the Little Brother world was as earth shattering as the Pangea split. For Rapper Big Pooh, however, it's all part of evolution. Pooh had been feeling the urge to express his self as a solo artist since the group's critically acclaimed 2003 debut, The Listening, and with fellow LB vocalist Phonte's understanding, he released his solo debut, Sleepers in 2005. He's since acquired such a cornucopia of solo material (featuring, of course, members of the Hall of Justice crew) it only makes sense (and hopefully dollars) that four years later he releases four versions of his street LP debut (grittier than an album, but cleaner than a mixtape), The Delightful Bars.
HipHopWired spoke with Rapper Big Pooh to discuss the sweet and sour of Internet stans and to peel the wrapper off the most heart melting treat from his hard drive, “Rearview Mirror,” the only 9th Wonder produced Rapper Big Pooh song since the much-talked about breakup.
HipHopWired: Explain to us the concept of a “Street LP.”
Big Pooh: It's all about the presentation. I'm always recording, so I just had a lot of material, and a mixtape wouldn't give it it's just due. But I didn't go into this project doing it like I normally do an album – it's not the same flow to it, it's me just pulling songs that I didn't want sitting in the computer.
HipHopWired: So, why four versions?
Big Pooh: As artists when you put a record out, you end up having to have extra songs, whether it's for something online, Best Buy, Europe; you have to have all these different versions. So, when we [Pooh and his manager] sat down with our art guy we said, ‘Well let's just try something different, let's say four different versions, different songs on each version, and let's just do different covers for everything, let's present it like that...you was going to end up trying to find a way to get those extras songs that isn't on the version that you may have purchased anyway, so it's just all about presentation.
HipHopWired: Speaking of the cover presentation...
Big Pooh: Normally, I try to keep myself on all of my covers. It's not like I'm a mega superstar like Jay-Z or 50 Cent where they might not have to do that, but we just went a little different. And let's be honest, sex sells. Even women, if it's done tastefully, can appreciate the art of the cover.
HipHopWired: No pun intended?
Big Pooh: [Laughs] Yeah. When you look at the cover of the record, when you walk by it in the store, a lot of people are going to stop and look at it. It looks like an old Ohio Player's cover or a rock album cover.
HipHopWired: Little Brother is known more as a “smart” group than a “sex-sells” kind of group. Back when you debuted there was [unsubstantiated] chat room talk about BET not playing your videos and [substantiated talk] that The Source magazine lowered your mic rating because LB didn't fit the mainstream mold. Do you feel you're more commercially viable being solo?
Big Pooh: Not even. It's just I think with me; it's the type of artist I am. That shows the difference between Phonte and myself. You can definitely hear it in the music, but when it comes to marketing and promotion and things of that nature, we definitely like to do things different. Everything is a compromise when you're in a group situation. Everything you do has to be compromised and I can allow myself [as a solo artist] to do those things that we wouldn't necessarily do as Little Brother. But as far as music is concerned, with what the people are allowing through the different streams of media, I don't think it really has nothing to do with the music. On the last Little Brother record, I think we had some awesome songs that could have been played on the radio all day everyday, but it just didn't happen that way.
HipHopWired: When did you know it was time to go solo?
Big Pooh: I think it probably was after the first record [The Listening]. I had the urge a little bit; a couple people were pushing me to pursue it, just for myself, just to help build my confidence. But I really started to see it, ‘cause you just see people around you taking care of themselves and pursuing things outside of the group situation. I'm the type of person that – not saying that they weren't – I'm the type of person that when it came to group things, I dropped everything. Like I didn't go on and do no real promo runs for my first record [Sleepers], I just put it out because that same year we dropped The Chittlin Circuit 1.5 on Koch and The Minstrel Show on Atlantic. I just realized that if I don't take the time to really try to establish some kind of foundation as a solo artist then what do I really have when we done making records as Little Brother?
HipHopWired: Around the time the exclusive iTunes version of The Delightful Bars (Candy Apple) released, news popped up on OkayPlayer that Little Brother was back together and planning to sign to Def Jam...
Big Pooh: Vicious, vicious, vicious rumor. Vicious rumor that hurt a lot of people's heart. I had people hitting me on Facebook, Twitter, all types of social networks talking about, ‘This was probably the best and worst day of my year.' That's one of them things where you're flattered that somebody – hopefully it was a fan – would go to them levels to create the moment of hysteria that it created, but you're also upset at the same time because it once again ignited the ‘Y'all need to get back together,' ‘I wish y'all were still together' or ‘Why did y'all break up in the first place?'
HipHopWired: You kind of answer that last question on “Rearview Mirror.”
Big Pooh: I went into it a little bit. I think that brought an understanding to a lot of people and I think that's something that they needed to hear and they wanted to hear. That was the first track, only track, that me and 9th did post breakup. We talked a little. Couple months ago I seen him out in LA and went to one of his True School parties. I was like, ‘Yo when you get a minute, we need to rap,' because at one point in time, we had a relationship bigger than making music. Even though it's not what it was, even if we had never made another record together, or we had never spoke again, I still wanted to get a couple things off my chest as I'm pretty sure he wanted to get some things of his chest, so we talked a little bit. We didn't really go too deep, and then he said, ‘Yo, I got something I want to send to you.' As soon as I heard it, like the first thing that came to my mind, I just started thinking about our situation and that's what I wrote down.
HipHopWired: You explain that there were issues of control and communication that led to the breakup. What was your role in it?
Big Pooh: You have to be totally 100% honest about your intentions, the goals you have. You have to put it all out on the table at the very beginning and everyday until your time with the group is done because you all start off wanting the same things, as time goes on and you start to accomplish some of those things, then that's when you really start wanting different things, and if you're not voicing that with the group that leads to the separation.
I think for me I could have started off voicing my opinion a little more from the get go. Because I was the youngest out of the trio and I had a lot more to learn about music in general than the other two did, I kind of sat back a lot and said nothing. It was kind of a situation where I allowed myself to be the tiebreaker on decisions most of the time and that's not a good place to be in.
HipHopWired: You said, “Money can't cure all of the pain that the heart endures.” So what does?
Big Pooh: Time. That's the only thing that really, really cures the heart pain.
HipHopWired: So how will you be spending your time now that you know to focus on your own goals?
Big Pooh: I actually shot a video for “Rearview Mirror.” We're going to shoot a video for the song “Move” next. Just more videos coming. That's one thing we as Little Brother was always lacking was visual presentation, so I just want to keep more visuals coming, and of course, other versions [of Delightful Bars] will be coming out. I know Phonte supposed to be, hopefully, putting out his solo record this Fall, so maybe we can try and do something where we just do a two hour jammy jam [tour] doing Little Brother and solo material. This Fall, the Little Brother EP Left Back with the DVD [is coming].
HipHopWired: When can we expect an official album from Rapper Big Pooh?
Big Pooh: Dirty Pretty Things, that's probably going to be top of 2010. I'm gonna finish working Delightful Bars and then you know after that runs it's course, we're going to do the Dirty Pretty Thing.
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