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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Big B standing tall among rappers




By ERIC SCHELKOPF

Big B is a musician who stands out in the crowded rap scene.

The 6' 7'', 330-pound rapper blends rock, hip-hop, country and reggae to create a sound that is refreshingly new. On Tuesday, he will release his fifth studio album, "Good Times & Bad Advice," which features guest appearances by Everlast, Pepper, Unwritten Law's Scott Russo, Cisco Adler and other musicians.

Big B will perform Sept. 18 at the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn Ave., Chicago, as part of the Kottonmouth Kings' "Party Monsters" tour. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $23 in advance, $25.50 at the door, available at www.livenation.com

I had the chance to talk to Big B about the new album and being a cast member on the A&E television series, "Inked."



Q - Have you been able to spend much time in Chicago?

We play there ever so often. I enjoy it. It's a good place to come and visit. I never have been able to check out the whole city. Every time we get a day off or something, it seems like I'm just trying to catch up on rest.

Q - Of course it's a big week for you with the new album coming out Tuesday. What kind of goals did you have for the album?

Just to get it finished was my biggest goal, and knowing that I made a good record. In my mind, it's the best one that I ever made.

Q - You have a lot of guest stars on this album. Did you handpick these people or did people offer to be on the album?

There are all just friends. They respect what I'm doing, and see that I'm trying to blaze my own trail and not trying to just chase trends. It's just a cool thing to have all those guys come out and do music with me.

Q - It's kind of an eclectic group. Do you think they all bring their own style to the album?

Yeah, that's why I have those guys on there, because they all have a different sound.

Q - You are on Kottonmouth Kings' record label, Suburban Noize. How did you start working with them?

I own this company named Controversy Sells. I make action sports videos. We ended up doing a DVD with them, "Endless Highway." We just became friends over the years. We were friends for many years before I ended up going on the label.

It was cool just to be friends with them and work with them and finally build this relationship where we could put records out.

Q - So you really like how they approach music and what they are doing?

Yeah. For me, I just do my own thing, and I think that's what they respect more than anything.

Q - It seems like the Kottonmouth Kings has a real do-it-yourself approach, even in marketing themselves. Do you think that's cool, to kind of take control of everything?

In this day and age, you have no choice. You're setting yourself up for failure if you think that you are just going to wait for a major label to put tons of money behind you. It's not going to happen. You have to be out there promoting and doing it.

Q - I guess you also have to keep up with new technology and social media, like Facebook or Twitter.

Which is great for us. For us, it's just another outlet to get out to the masses.

Q - How do you feel you are blazing your own trail?

I try to make real music. I don't put it in one box. One day I'll rap over an acoustic track, the next day I'll rap over a punk track or whatever else. I just like storytelling. I'm not reinventing the wheel by any means, but I just don't want to do the normal thing.

Johnny Cash to me was just the greatest dude ever. I take bits and pieces of everyone. Like I said, I'm not reinventing the wheel, but what I am doing is my own thing that's not on the radio right now and not what's popular.

Q - You were a regular cast member on the show "Inked." Reality shows like that seem to be as popular as ever. Why do you think people are flocking to them?

It's all scripted reality. I did it for two years. Carey Hart, one of my best friends, we started Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company. People just like what is going on and they like the drama of it and tattoos are becoming more popular. Tattoos are another way to express yourself and be different.

Q - And I suppose people feel connected to the shows.

Yeah, exactly. It's real people, and to the average person, they think it's all real. They don't think it's scripted reality.

Q - Physically, you are a big guy. Does that help in what you are doing?

It may help, but I definitely look like a freak show out there every now and then. It's just not the norm. And the other thing is that I'm 330 pounds. I don't consider myself a fat guy, but I think when people see someone my size that active and jumping around, it's a spectacle.

I stand out in the crowd, so that probably helps out. But another way I don't think it helps out is that I have to shove myself into these bunks on these buses and I bump my head on the lights and everything else.

I'm just a big guy, and the problem is I think I'm the same size as everybody else. So I'm the guy out there skateboarding and doing whatever else. I have to pay the price.

Q - You've already worked with so many different artists. Do you have any dream collaborations?

I don't have any dream collaborations, but I would love to work with Rick Rubin as a producer. I love a guy named Citizen Cope. He's one of my favorite guys ever. There's another rapper out there right now, Yelawolf, that I'm really digging.

One of my life goals was to do a song with Everlast, who was such a big influence. We became friends, and I got to do that. I'm kind of content now. But Citizen Cope would be a good one. And he's an influence in what I do.
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