Bubba Sparks After last years monster hit “Ms. New Booty” and his previous monster hit “Ugly”, Bubba is back with a new album on E1 (formerly Koch). Check out this exclusive interview as Bubba talks about his personal feelings towards Interscope, Timbaland, his new label, and his new strategy and more!
By William Hernandez
WHO?MAG: Talk about your new album? BUBBA SPARXX: It’s like a mixtape. I’d wanted to do a project with Greg Street, so we linked up on it. The concept behind it is like 7 or 8 new songs of mine. Then just the rest are artists signed to my label New South Entertainment like Dirt Reynolds, Six Six Two Forty, and showcasing producers I’ve got signed such as Super Dave, a real talented cat out of Tampa, FL. Different music from cats I f*ck with from around the country that are buzzing in their market and then different records that Greg Street brought to the label. We had J Money out of Atlanta. He’s real hot and he’s featured on the compilation.
WHO?MAG: Why did you decide to sign with E1? BUBBA SPARXX: After my last label, the one that was on Big Boi’s label Purple Ribbon; after that project, Jermaine Dupri who was the head of Urban Music, left. They were kind of in disarray over there at Virgin and they really still are. I think Virgin folded into Capitol, so I think there isn’t anymore Urban Music department, but they still wanted to hold on to me at that time. I didn’t really want to be there because Big Boi and Jermaine Dupri left. It was kind of a tedious process to get out of that situation. I was really looking forward to doing my own thing. I was still talking to some majors about doing a traditional deal. I really felt it was time to step out on my own. We contacted Alan Grumbalt. We’d be in contact with him for a minute over at Koch or E1 music. I’m still trying to get used to saying that. They provided a situation where we can plant our own flag.
WHO?MAG: Talk about your label New South? BUBBA SPARXX: It’s been a long time coming. My last 2 projects have been on New South/Purple Ribbon and my album Deliverance was on New South/Beat Club, which is Timbaland’s label. I got a cat Dirt Reynolds out of Athens, GA. He’s been featured on everyone of my albums. He’s been a long time in the waiting. A cat by the name of Six Six Two Forty out of Morgantown, W. VA. He’s doing his thing over there. Really has some different going on as far as repping W. VA and myself as an artist. I’ve had the benefit of studying under some legends in this game. From Jimmy Iovine and Timbaland at Interscope and also working with Rico Wade and the guys at Organized Noise in Atlanta and having the privilege of working with Big Boi on my third album and Jermaine Dupri over at Virgin. I’d have the opportunity to learn from a lot of people and I’m eager to apply what I’ve learned to my own situation.
WHO?MAG: How did you get the deal with Interscope back in 2000? BUBBA SPARXX: We were doing our thing independently around Georgia. That built quite a buzz there. Actually Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit was the first person known to have heard my music. He was the vice-president of Interscope at that time. He talked about doing a deal, but things happened and that kind of fell apart so I was really discouraged at that time. I though it was over, a wrap, because we were talking to him and he was talking about flying us out and doing a deal. Some political things got in the way of that happening. It was actually a blessing because it planted a seed in the building. Gerardo Mejia of Rico Suave fame; what a lot of people don’t know was the first artist ever released on Interscope. He was working as an A&R at Interscope at the time. He was really passionate about my music. It was at the same time that Jimmy Iovine was talking to Timbaland about doing a deal for Beat Club and those three guys just happened to get in the same place. The music for Tim solidified him doing his deal at Interscope. It just all came together lovely.
WHO?MAG: What do you remember from working on the first album? BUBBA SPARXX: I just remember being overwhelmed about Tim’s greatness. About being in the studio. I was just in awe about being around Timbaland, but then just the persona and being around truly blessed musically. I learned so much from him. I had put out a CD “A Dark Day Bright Nights” independent version. About half the album consisted of music that had been on that version. I had some dope stuff to bring to the table. The second half that I did with Tim was beautiful. I just learned so much from Timbaland. He was and still is such a tremendous mentor for me. I learned so much from him still. I just came back from LA and I was with him and Polo [Da Don].
WHO?MAG: How is he in the studio? BUBBA SPARXX: He’s just a bundle of energy. He’s just creatively head and shoulders above the rest.
WHO?MAG: Talk about your second album Deliverance and why wasn’t in promoted properly? BUBBA SPARXX: Coming off my first album with the song “Ugly”, being a club banger and the video we just came out to clown, entertain. I felt people thought it was sort of a joke. With “Deliverance”, I wanted to dig deep and tell my story, where I had come from and what it had been like. Where I was at that point, I can’t really say. At radio, we ran into problems. At rock stations, some of them could f*ck with it, but they felt it was too rap. A lot of rap stations felt it was too rock. I can’t say that Jimmy and Interscope didn’t put forward the effort. I just felt they didn’t know what to do with it. It was kind of uncharted territory.
WHO?MAG: Why did you leave Interscope after that album? BUBBA SPARXX: At that time he got a situation over there with Mosley Music, I was signed to Beat Club and Tim was unhappy with his situation at Interscope and he left. Actually for a period of a couple of years; I had the opportunity to still stay at Interscope, but I didn’t want to be over there and not be politically aligned with somebody because it’s such a building of clicks, imprints, and movements and I didn’t really want to be in that situation over there by myself. It was the right time to move as well. Tim ended up going back over there and doing the Nelly Furtado stuff, his own project, and One Republic. Then in the meantime, Tim was going through a process where he moved to Miami and was getting in shape. He wasn’t really focused on doing music right there at that time and I had to make move. Thankfully I had good relationship with Big Boi and even Andre, but Andre was burnt out on the whole label thing at that time. Big wanted to keep it moving and the people at Virgin cut us a huge check and gave us a big opportunity over there. I felt it was the move to make at that time.
WHO?MAG: I know a couple of years ago you moved to Tampa, FL. Why did you decided to move over there? BUBBA SPARXX: I was looking to make a change. I had lived in Georgia my whole life and I just wanted to go somewhere different. I didn’t want to go to LA, that was a little too trendy. I thought about moving to Miami, but Miami is a little too Miami and it was going to cost so much money. I just thought I always had a great time when I went to Tampa and to my Tampa is like a mixture of Atlanta and Miami. It just turned out to be a good fit. I’m just happy down here.
WHO?MAG: Who are some of your influences as an emcee? BUBBA SPARXX: Outkast, Goodie Mob, The whole Dungeon Family, UGK, 8ball & MJG, NWA, Scarface, Wu Tang Clan, EPMD, Jay Z. I listen to it all.
WHO?MAG: What’s the difference between working with Timbaland to working with Rico Wade from Organized Noise? BUBBA SPARXX: Rico Wade conceptually, as far as ideas for songs, that man is unbelievably talented. Timbaland musically is bonkers. Beat making Timbaland is phenomenal. Rico Wade is more of producer in the sense of concepts for songs. He’s also talented beat maker. Timbaland is talented conceptually too, but that’s more into their strong suit.
WHO?MAG: How do you work? BUBBA SPARXX: When I listen to beats, the lyrics are there. The words are in the music because flow is important to me and rhyme pattern and timing. It all really comes from the beat and that’s something I learned from Timbaland.
WHO?MAG: How do you as an artist deal in these rough economic times to try and reach the fans? BUBBA SPARXX: You just got to stay pushing the envelope creatively. You have to give them something that sets yourself apart from the next guy. I feel blessed because I have my own lane; because no one to this day has threatened the Bubba Sparxx lane. There’s only one Bubba Sparxx; only one making the kind of music that I’m making. That represents and speaking to those people. I’m also blessed because I’m two and a half years off my last hit and I’m still able to go out and do five or six shows a month. That’s where I make my paper.
WHO?MAG: How do you feel about things going digital now? BUBBA SPARXX: It is what it is. I’m not really a big fan of the internet and computers. I not only feel it’s ruined the music business, but it’s made the world small. People are not amazed by anything anymore. It’s so hard because kids have so much information accessible to them at their finger tips. It just makes it really hard to shock and awe people. It is what it is. You just have to adapt and over come the whole digital world.
WHO?MAG: Do you feel the internet helps artists to be closer to their fans? BUBBA SPARXX: Probably so. I don’t know if that is necessarily a good thing. I like the days of growing up that you didn’t have to do so much. You could put out an album every year or two and that’s what people got. That allowed you to do shows for longer. It just didn’t make it so difficult. I don’t know. It’s just that the world is too small now.
That’s all I can say. You’re so accessible to them. They want something every 5 minutes. Some of the quality of music has suffered as a result of that because people are trying to get out mass quantities of music as opposed to taking the time and cultivating a sound more.