Interview: Big B

bill bodkin gets in a hip hop state of mind …

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They say variety is the spice of life.

If that’s true then Big B is the spiciest man on the face of the planet.

From his days working in the world freestyle motorcross to a stint as a reality star on A&E’s Inked to being a staple in the underground hip-hop and rock world, Big B has had one hell of a diverse life.

On Tuesday July 9th, the spicy variety of Big B’s life comes to together on one record — Fool’s Gold.

This record is the confluence of the heavily inked rapper/singer’s many worlds — with musical friends ranging from Pink to Slightly Stoopid to Colt Ford aiding him in hopping across multiple musical genres while still, at its heart, keeping true to the spirit and heart that Big B has been known for.

Pop-Break caught up with Big B right after his soundcheck in the Dirty South to talk about his new record, his evolution as an artist, his friendship with Carey Hart and Pink and his very, very intimate tattoo.

Big B Photo

Pop-Break: Your new record, Fool’s Gold, drops on Tuesday, July 9th — is the suspense killing you?

Big B: Oh yeah. For me it’s a great record and I got tons of great people to work on it. I think the worst part for me is just wanting to let people hear the record. I’m out here on the road and I wanna be able to sell it and do everything. So yes, it’s driving me nuts man.

PB: You’ve been recording and writing for years and experienced success with your two last records. How does Fool’s Gold stand out from everything you’ve done in the past?

Big B Album Cover

Big B: It’s a turn of a chapter, a page has gotten turned. It’s a record that I will stake my claim that I’m here to stay and that my sound has definitely evolved and changed. This record solidifies what I’m doing. With guys like The Dirty Heads on the record, the guys from Slightly Stoopid did a track with me and even having Pink and Butch Walker on the record, it’s now like ‘Okay this a real thing and not some guy dabbling in different genres of music, he’s really trying to make these type of records.’

PB: Also, was there or is there any fears that a collaboration with a pop star like Pink and Butch Walker who’s produced Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, will alienate some of your most hardcore fans.

Big B: The way I look at it is if they’re hardcore fans, they won’t care who I work with or what I’m doing. If they’re actual Big B fans, they’re going to love it [the new record]. If someone loves the Sub Noize thing and doesn’t like this record — there’s nothing I can do about it. I was in OPM, I did this a long time before that, made three or four Big B hip-hop records. Now it was time to go back to what I know how to do and do with it the force that can’t be reckoned with. I can guarantee you I’m going to lose fans but I think I’m going to gain a lot more. And the people that stick around, they’re real fans. I’m already getting people saying I’m selling out. It’s not selling out — I’m evolving. I don’t think I’d be true to myself or to my fan base if I kept doing the same thing. You’re just selling the same thing to them non-stop and it just becomes a money thing. If this record sells a smaller amount than my other records I’ll still know this was the best record I’ve ever made.

PB: It’s kind of a shock to the system when you hear Pink is working with Big B. How did you two come together and talk about the experience of writing with her.

Big B: Some people know and some people don’t that me and her husband Carey Hart are best friends. We’ve been doing business together for the last 15 years. I’ve been working with him on tons of stuff; we were on the A&E show [Inked] together. He’s part of my family, we’re super close. So it was easy for her to do it. The timing was right — she had a little bit of time off and I had time to come down with her and Butch to do it. She’s a pop star but she does cool stuff. She pushes the boundaries and does it. Working with pop stars … if people know me, they know I’m a genuine, real dude. The content of the songs, what I’m singing about, hasn’t changed. If you listen to the songs the music may have a changed a little and the harmonies may have changed but we’re definitely still doing the same thing.

Big B, second from left, from the A&E promo shot of Inked.
Big B, second from left, from the A&E promo shot of Inked.

PB: You’ve got a lot of collaborations and guest spots on this record ranging from The Dirty Heads and Slightly Stoopid to country singer Colt Ford. Can you talk about how having guest collaborators improves or strengthens your record as well as you as an artist.

Big B: I think it’s a great marketing tool. You reach fans that you wouldn’t ordinarily reach. Obviously there are a lot of Colt Ford fans that aren’t Big B fans but maybe after listening to the music they might be. It was an honor to be able work with an artist like Colt but, also he gets to tap into that Big B fan base as I branch into the Colt Ford fan base. In doing the rap, reggae, punk rock or country we do, we have the freedom to do this. With a straight up rock band you don’t have the opportunity to do this and feature it on an album. In today’s day and age of hip hop [guest stars] is the norm.

PB: I saw your touring schedule man … you’re a beast! How do you mentally and spiritually stay sharp being on the road away from your family?

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Big B: It’s hard. Anyone who does this for life realizes how hard this is. But it’s all — how bad do you want it? What’s the sacrifice? And for us [musicians] it’s being away from our families. If these kids are going to be fans of Big B, I owe it to them to play these songs and get them out to as many people as possible. If I was an evangelist I’d do the same — I’d go out and do it.

PB: You’re an inked up guy — what’s your most random ink you’ve got?

Big B: You know, I got the words ‘Lick ‘Em’ tattooed on my nuts. (laughs). I lost a bet to a few friends. I’ve got some silly ones that happened after being up late and drinking. The next morning you look at them and think it probably wasn’t a great idea. But that one was the most random.

PB: When you’re not performing or writing — what’s your pop culture break in your day?

Big B: A lot of people don’t know, but I’m a big motorcycle and classic car fan. I have a Harley with me on the road, I put it in a trailer and bring it out with me. I go and check out all kind of car museums and junkyards, bodyshops, bike builders, no name guys that are coming up. I like to go out and pop into their shop. Sometimes they know me and wonder why I just rolled into their shop in the middle of nowhere. Others have no idea who I am. I like doing that stuff and I’m also into checking out tons of graffiti art.

PB: Where do you wanna see yourself, career-wise by Christmas of this year.

Big B: By Christmas of 2013 I just want to be stable and know I did my best. I’ve been doing this a long time and I can’t predict the future. Right now I’m mentally healthy, lost a ton of weight, been training everyday. I just want to be in a place where I’m happy with what I’m doing. I’m my own worst critic so I keep pushing myself. I wanna be content with what I’m doing. I just want to be happy — that’s what I wanna do.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites