After a few months of waiting, I am FINALLY unveiling this definitive discussion with Thomas Jones, also known as Rapper Big Pooh. I apologize to my readers, as well as to Pooh, for the unexpected delay, because this was to appear in On The Rise Magazine at the end of 2011. To ensure that I do not cheat those that are accustomed to my insider-based interviews, I'm giving you the opportunity to see what a working-class emcee is all about! Read, and enjoy!
Written By: Wisdom
You can call him what you want: Rapper Big Pooh, Big Pooh, Pooh Ferrigno, Mr. Fat Boy Fresh, or simply Pooh. What you will NEVER be able to call Mr. Jones is not determined. Be it as part of the underground dynamic duo known as Little Brother, or as a solo entity, Rapper Big Pooh has carved out quite the career within the realm of hip hop. Starting with his lyrical musings on the Little Brother intro to the musical world The Listening, and continuing on with rock solid creations since, this artist has been one of the most consistent and honest lyricists in hip hop, be it mainstream or underground. This consistency and truthfulness is evident on the most recent solo release from the artist born Thomas Jones, entitled Dirty Pretty Things. Because I have been an avid listener and fan of all things Little Brother-related, having the opportunity to speak with Rapper Big Pooh was refreshing and challenging. Pooh was very candid about his musical career, his position within the Little Brother dynamic, and his underdog status as an emcee, and I am grateful for the in-depth discussion that resulted. Make no mistakes about it, Dirty Pretty Things is that album that should remove any doubts about Rapper Big Pooh as a true individual force within hip hop circles. The album, released November 1st, is a collection of fourteen introspective and dope cuts, with four bonus offerings on the Deluxe Edition when obtained via iTunes. Looking forward, Rapper Big Pooh is still an artist ON THE RISE!
OTR: How does it feel to receive positive feedback and reviews for your new album Dirty Pretty Things?
Rapper Big Pooh: It feels good man. I think that the fans and listeners like the direction I’m going in with the album, so I’m pleased with the response.
OTR: What direction would you say you are going in with this release?
RBP: With Dirty Pretty Things I am showing what I really contributed to the group. Branching out just allowed me to be a more complete artist and lyricist. I could stay rhyming over boom bap beats but I progressed. This album is just a showcase of my skills. When you listen to it, I sound at home over the production. I got the chance to go outside the box. Once reviewer said by all three albums coming out around the same time (Phonte’s album Charity Starts At Home and 9th Wonder’s The Wonder Years) you see what all three were contributing to the group. Each person brought to the table a different dynamic.
OTR: On Dirty Pretty Things, what is your personal favorite?
RBP: I got to a point where I don’t listen to an album once it’s completed. I was skimming through the album and did find some cool joints. “Real Love” talks about my relationship with my older brother, I like that one of course. “Free” gotta be my personal favorite joint. It’s an organic track. I was riding around and playing the track, then I sat down and put my pen to work. The message in that song can be appreciated. Anybody can listen to it. Anybody can pull something from it. The whole story is crazy. The producer BlackSoul did it perfectly.
OTR: I know there are some known producers on this album like DJ Khalil and Nottz. Who are some of the other producers you worked with on Dirty Pretty Things?
RBP: Ahh:zel is one of the up and coming producers on the project. He entered into a contest for me and this beat for “Legendary Lullaby” was beat to win the competition. When I heard that joint, I took beat and recorded to it. I did a verse overseas for his group (Late Bloomers). It just came about by happenstance, but it was definitely a blessing. Family Biz Entertainment did three joints on the album. Severe Garcia hit me, I checked out a track and I liked it. I truthfully didn’t know how it would fit though. The crew played an integral part with mixing and mastering the album, so I am grateful for the connection.
OTR: I also noticed that you had a production credit from Sheldon Williams on the album. Now knowing that you are such a sports buff, is this the same Sheldon Williams that played basketball for Duke.
RBP: (Laughter) Not THAT Shelden Williams! He is a talented cat. He had to reformat a beat for me. On a track we wanted strings. He played strings on “Dreams” on the Little Brother album Getback. He’s definitely a talented musician and producer.
OTR: What about the connection between sports and music?
RBP: I know some cats that dibble and dabble with both, but I haven’t come across that serious athlete that is also a serious musician. I know it’s gonna happen sooner or later though. (Laughter)
OTR: You’re a big sports enthusiast.
RBP: I’m a BIG sports enthusiast. NFL, college basketball, college football, baseball, you name it. I guess I get it from my father. I didn’t really know him when I was younger, I met him later. I think that is where I get it from. I love the competition, that competitive spirit that sports provides. I was in the gym last night, and the Georgetown game came on at midnight. I pretty much stayed on the treadmill for two and a half hours until the game was over. I remember the last Little Brother show that was in Philly. Me and my manager spent almost two hours watching end of a game. I stayed on the treadmill the entire time watching that game and didn’t move. I was focused! (Laughter)
OTR: Are you going to be touring to support this project?
RBP: Hopefully towards the end of January or beginning of February. We have something special lined up for everybody. I got a new booking agent, so I’m just mapping out the details for a tour. I’m probably going to start out on the West Coast first, they definitely show much love.
OTR: What about the East Coast, especially D.C. or Baltimore area?
RBP: D.C. is a must. With the accident I was in a few years ago travelling on the East Coast has been an issue, but I’m looking forward to my fans in D.C. and B-more.
OTR: B-more definitely wants to see Big Pooh, I can assure you of that! I tried to go to the last Little Brother show at Black Cat in D.C. When I arrived, of course the show was sold out, so I spent the next few hours at the café attached to the venue listening and watching from afar. (Laughter)
RBP: Yeah, that was not one of the most memorable shows at Black Cat, but it was still a good show.
OTR: Are there any new projects on the horizon?
RBP: I let inspiration take the wheel. Right now I have four new songs for Fat Boy Fresh Volume 2 that I’m excited about. This cat Paper Boy Fabe is handling the production. I guess you can say that Fat Boy Fresh Volume 2 is a continuation of the sound that I am developing now. He is just tweeking it a little bit. Hopefully it will be ready by March.
OTR: What about the project that you were discussing with Roc C?
RBP: He’s working on his own solo joint right now Stoned Genius that is coming out in December I believe. We’re probably gonna get back at top of year. Of course we’re dealing with getting sued for using the name Young Americans. We’re trying to get that suit thrown out, so we’ll see. Not sure of an exact time but we’ll get this thing poppin’.
OTR: It seems that your alma mater North Carolina Central University had so much musical talent when you were attending. Did you notice the NCCU musical talent at the time?
RBP: It really didn’t hit me until later, but yeah, there definitely was a lot of talented individuals at Central. Darien Brockington, I knew of him, but didn’t really connect on that level at first with the music. Of course there was YahZarah. I’ve worked with her as well. There are so many names to talk about from that time period. That time period bred so many artistic and creative people. I didn’t get the significance of the movement we had at the time, but now I am able to realize it.
OTR: I know that you’re from the Northern Virginia region originally, but relocated to North Carolina . How did that come about?
RBP: I came to North Carolina in 1998 to go to school at North Carolina Central, and I think I went back home in ’99. I came home for two summers, then pretty much I’ve been in North Carolina ever since. I love it man down here.
OTR: How is the North Carolina hip hop scene?
RBP: It is fractured. You have that faction of people that does the boom bap. Then you got that Down South flavor. Even though North Carolina is “southern” it isn’t quite “south”. It’s a melting pot. You have all types of hip hop here. People here will be looking at groups funny, and it makes for a fractured scene, but there is a lot of talent here. It’s definitely a lot of talent, but in order for the scene to pop they gotta come together. Until that happens people won’t look at Carolina as a well of talent.
OTR: At first I didn’t want to talk about the dissolution of Little Brother and your relationship with Phonte and 9th Wonder, but I’ll ask you if it is okay to discuss this?
RBP: That’s funny you asked that. I have this joint called “I’m Sorry”. I’m basically writing a letter to the fans that wanna know about the Little Brother issue. The first verse I talk about how the fans felt betrayed. It was time. It was time to move on. I needed to move on personally and as an artist.
OTR: Is there a chance that we can see you, Phonte, and 9th recording music together again, even if it is not under the Little Brother umbrella?
RBP: I don’t see it right now. So much transpired personally. What made our music so special was sincerity. We were friends. We were cool. Right now we don’t speak to each other at all. The way I see it is that we are not gonna make another song. That’s really all I can say. I don’t mind discussing it because I know the fans want to know. I do make sure to focus an interview on me and what I’m bringing to the table as an artist though. I like to set the record straight. I think there were people under the assumption that we were all cool once Phonte and 9th mended their differences, but that wasn’t the case. Three people would have to mend the differences with us. I’m not one of those people to run away from questions.
OTR: I appreciate your honesty with that.
RBP: It’s cool.
OTR: If you can, name three artists that you are listening to right now, either inside or out of hip hop.
RBP: My man Torae, I’m diggin’ his new joint For The Record. I’m also listening to that new Danny Brown and Black Milk album. This cat TyRon out of L.A. is cool. He’s a young cat. Someone put me on to him two years ago. I ran into him recently in L.A. Those are the last three purchased joints that give me that feeling of that real hip hop.
OTR: This has been an exciting discussion with you. What would you like to say to the On The Rise Magazine readers?
RBP: I would love to thank everyone for supporting Little Brother and Big Pooh. Be on the lookout for Tasty Treats to be released in 2012. I’ll be touring as well for the new year, so I’m looking forward to feeling that love and support from my fans. One thing I would like to say is that the distributor for my album Dirty Pretty Things underestimated then messed up the original shipment of albums. We’re getting them repressed and I’m waiting on those copies soon. Hopefully by the beginning of December we’ll have those physical copies for the fans. I’m trying to have a hundred copies of the physical signed personally by me. Peace to all of my fans.
OTR: It has been a pleasure speaking with you.
RBP: Same here. Thanks man!
Rapper Big Pooh has four solo albums under his belt: Sleepers (2005), The Delightful Bars (2009), Fat Boy Fresh Vol. 1: For Members Only (2011), and Dirty Pretty Things (2011). He also has two mixtapes that showcase his lyrical prowess and versatility, Rapper’s Delight (2008) and The Purple Tape (2010). You can follow the path that this Carolina-based emcee is paving on Twitter @RapperBigPooh. For more information about Rapper Big Pooh, visit the website http://thefreshestfatboy.com. If reality-based, honest, and insightful lyricism is what you crave, then Rapper Big Pooh is the artist that will satisfy your hip hop appetite!