Thomas Louis Jones III, better known by his stage name Rapper Big Pooh, is formerly one half of the now defunct North Carolina trio Little Brother. For those who are unfamiliar with Little Brother the group featured rapper Phonte (who is now in the Foreign Exchange) and producer 9th Wonder. Rapper Big Pooh released his first solo album "Sleepers" back in 2005, originally released on 6 Hole Records, featured guests Murs, Spectac and Median, along with Pooh’s Little Brother members Phonte and 9th Wonder.
The group disbanded in 2007, since then Rapper Big Pooh continued to focus on his solo career and hitting his fans with countless albums like, The Delightful Bars, Purple Tape, Fat Boy Fresh Vol 1 - 3.5, Word Paint Pictures, Home Sweet Home just to name a few.
In an exclusive interview with Rapper Big Pooh, we talked about his new project, touring, where hip hop is heading, his views on the President elected, will there ever be a Little Brother reunion plus more.
Check out interview below!
How’s life? You just dropped a new album "Everything 4 Sale", How are you feeling about the release?
RBP: I can’t complain man. I feel good about this project. Hitting the road to support it, got visuals on the way..I feel really good about it.
Take me through a typical studio session, is there a certain method when you’re crafting your sound? What’s your method for writing rhymes? They come to you, or you need a beat first?
RBP: I don’t have a set routine. Sometimes I write while I am driving, sometimes I work out of the house (have a little set up there), and sometimes I need the energy of being around people and head to the studio to vibe. I do a lot of work in my head as far as putting together concepts. I definitely need the beat first. The beat sets the tone for the song. The beat normally picks the idea for me. The beat is the foundation.
You come from an era where there was true lyrical form in hip hop. Do you think it will get back to where people will respect hip hop with more complex lyrics?
RBP: There has always been parity in the genre. We just didn’t hear it so lopsided as far as commercial exposure back during the “golden era.” You also have more outlets as far as putting your music out and being discovered. It isn’t just about the radio anymore. People need to stop being lazy and look for support and what it is that they want to hear. Complex lyricism hasn’t went anywhere, you just have to look to find it.
Do you think being a “True Emcee” makes it harder for you to go main stream?
RBP: Timing is everything, work ethic is everything, and having a great supporting cast is everything. Knowing the business side of the music business is everything. Being “mainstream” means more eyes may be on you but, that doesn’t equate to success. You can be very successful without mainstream success, ask Tech N9ne.
Your first solo album " Sleepers" was released almost 12 years ago. Can you take us through the album, What was the process of putting it together like? How would you say you evolved since that album?
RBP: Putting together that album was like, you just learned how to ride a bike and your parents went in the house and left you to your own vices. It was definitely a learning experience. I grew a lot during that process and learned how to produce in the process. Not make beats, produce a song and album. The process was pretty much me and Khrysis hitting the studio on a consistent basis fleshing out ideas and creating. Other people came in from time to time, but it was pretty much us in there figuring it out together. I’m much more precise in my execution now. Of course the goal is to always grow and get better at the craft of song making, but now I can process ideas faster.
Let's fall all the way back to the beginning... Tell us how it all begin for Big Pooh?
RBP: I was always into music. Always into writing. I used to write poems and short stories. I tried my hand at songwriting but didn’t have the proper guidance to even begin to know what I was doing. I’ve always been interested in the art of songwriting, even from a younger age.
How did you link up with 9th Wonder & Phonte to form Lil Brother? Will there ever be a Lil Brother reunion? Why or why not?
RBP: We all linked up in college in 1998-99. It was my freshman year, Phonte was a sophomore, and 9th had just came back to NCCU after going to NC State. We knew some of the same people and I casually met them at different times. Music, the love of music, was the foundation. We will just have to wait and see. .Don’t hold your breath.., though! Don’t want to see anyone pass out.... (laughs)
Well Pooh, because you have already worked with so many celebrity's in hip hop. That said, please name some of your favorite artists & producers that you’ve had the pleasure of working with, and please details some of the most important lessons you’ve learned while working with them? Who are some others that still remains on your “wish” list?
RBP: Man, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with some legends. Blessed even. I learned about stepping outside of my comfort zone working and the constant chase of perfection with Dr. Dre and Denaun Porter. I learned how to trust myself and my talent working with Focus… I learned that you don’t have to change who you are working with Nottz. I learned how to truly love what you do with Pete Rock. I learned that you can be humble yet cocky working with Apollo Brown. I learned how to have fun again working with The Mighty DR. I learned that music transcends language working with Astronote. Man, I’ve learned a lot.
I can’t stop until I have completed some work with DJ Premiere, Pharrell, and DJ Quik.
Off the topic of everything, how much attention did you give the current Presidential elections? What are your thoughts about the President elect?
RBP: I gave it some of my attention of course. I don’t get to deep into politics but I do like to know what’s going on in the world. I’m not surprised by any of it. People don’t know who or what to believe so they tend to gravitate towards whoever message resonates with them on the most basic level, emotionally.
You are currently on a 19 city tour with the Beat Nuts and Termanology. How did this whole tour come about and what's the chemistry like being on stage with theses guys?
RBP: I have been knowing Dan Green from Clockwork Music for some years. He got together with my booking agent Erik Abel of Focused Noise and made it happen. Just pure dope jams and good old fashioned hip hop.
What album influenced you the most in your lifetime?
RBP: Nas’ “Illmatic” is the album that really had me wanting to be an emcee. The story telling spoke to 14 year old me like nothing else I had heard before it.
Many don't know you are a huge NBA fan. How's the NBA podcast going? How did you get started with that?
RBP: I am a huge sports fan period. NBA is just one of the sports I follow closely. I’m not currently doing the NBA podcast, but it went well. I just had a few other commitments that kept me from consistently doing the podcast at the time. I was on tour with Little Brother back in 07’ and we were in Salt Lake City, UT. I was always talking about sports... We went into a sports bar to have lunch and started talking about whatever was on Sports Center at the time. The camera guy started recording and Pooh On Sports was born.
When you not cooking up dope lyrics, what's a normal day for you?
RBP: These days I co-manage a dope artist (music artist and painter) out of Charlotte NC by the name of Lute. Towards the end of last year he signed to Dreamville/Interscope. I actually put my creative pen down for a bulk of the year to facilitate a few things for him and get his project turned in.
There have been some great artist that have come out of Viginia (Pharrell, Clipse, Timbaland, Chris Brown, Missy Elliot, Trey Songz).. Is there a close bond between the VA artist?
RBP: Although I was born and raised in VA, my music background is NC based. I’m pretty sure those in the Tide Water and 7 Cities area have a close bond being they ran in the same circles, but other than that I couldn’t tell you.
As a legend in the game, where do you feel the direction of Hip-Hop is headed?
RBP: Legend, I haven’t accomplished enough at this point in my career to have earned that title.
I can’t afford to worry about where something I have no control over is headed. I know where I am headed. I know what kind of imprint I want to leave on the game, that is all. That is what I have control over.
What do you think your legacy will be and what do you think your biggest contribution to Hip Hop music has been?
RBP: I want my legacy to be one that my kids kids will be proud of. I want to leave an imprint so deep that it can never be forgotten. That hasn’t happened yet. I don’t feel I have made my biggest contribution to Hip Hop yet.
What's next for you?
RBP: More dope music. Helping to usher in the new era of dope from some talented young cats.