With the words "NEW SOUTH" tattooed down his forearms, Bubba Sparxxx is paying homage to the area that shaped his uniqueness, the rural region where he learned to turn country slang into rap.
The LaGrange, Ga., native is focused on ending the rap against him, that he's the white rapper from a small town who is surviving off one hit from five years ago. He wants to be known for his lyrical skills — not as a "total goof."
Sparxxx recently signed with Purple Ribbon Records, started by his childhood idol, Big Boi of Outkast. He's got high hopes that the move will help him reach his multi-platinum potential with his third album, "The Charm."
Question: In 2001, you hit it big with your first single, "Ugly." But then the hits stopped coming. How did you deal with that?
Sparxxx: To be honest, I really wasn't prepared for this business. Everything happened so fast with the first album — "Dark Days, Bright Nights". ... People didn't really get to know me and understand what I was all about.
Question: What were the challenges of being misunderstood?
Sparxxx: The pressure, which you always are going to have with people in the industry, to prove yourself. People always say to themselves, "I don't care what others say about me." But that's a damn lie. No matter in the beginning, middle or the end, you're always going to feel that need to prove yourself. I just want people to better understand me and know me. That's the biggest challenge. The first album, I was measured by one song.
Question: How would you describe yourself?
Sparxxx: A person who takes their craft very seriously. I do happen to be white and from a rural area, which is (in contrast to) most rappers. But it should be about the music.
Question: With your second album, "Deliverance," there was a problem involving promotion between hip-hop producer Timbaland, who runs his own label Beat Club Records, and its distribution company, Interscope Records. What happened?
Sparxxx: A lot of tension arose between Timbaland's label and Interscope Records. I was caught in the middle of everything. From a business sense, my relationship with Beat Club was through Interscope. When the beef broke out, it was like a bank robbery and everyone had to break out.
Question: Is there a beef with Timbaland and yourself since you switched to Big Boi's label?
Sparxxx: There's no bad blood between me and Timbaland. He's happy that I got another opportunity.
Question: What are the differences you have seen since joining Purple Ribbon?
Sparxxx: Promotions. With Jermaine Dupri at Virgin Records distributing for Big Boi at Purple Ribbon, they're a more hungrier company than Interscope.
Question: You've been criticized for your new single "Ms. New Booty." People say it's another degrading song about women. How do you react to that?
Sparxxx: If you are really interested that much (in) "Ms. New Booty," then you have way too much time on your hands. You aren't focused on real issues in this world. It's not degrading women in any way. Point out one negative aspect. ... There's nothing negative about it. All women have booties. I just saw a man doing the Ms. New Booty dance the other day.
Question: Oh no. ...
Sparxxx: Yes, it was awful (laughing). ... He had on these tights and it looked crazy, you know.
Question: I'll take your word for it. Anyway, what's your goal with the new album?
Sparxxx: That I'm still here. Consistency paves the way toward respect. At some point, everyone has to receive that I'm still here. I've come out with three albums of quality music with a good voice, coming from a different type of place than many other rappers. I wouldn't change that if I could. With this album, everyone should be able to totally figure me out.