Las Vegas rapper Big B can’t put be put into a box. While he is undoubtedly Hip-Hop, his musical backdrops range from Reggae, to Country, to Rock. Big B’s sixth album Good Times & Bad Advice showcases the self-proclaimed white trash renegades versatility. The album does a masterful job of balancing Big B’s joviality and his vulnerability.
Days after the release of Good Times & Bad Advice, Big B came to the Windy City as part of the Kottonmouth Kings Party Monster tour.
After an energetic set that rocked Chicago’s House of Blues I sat down with Big B and discussed life on the road, his role on the reality TV show INKED, and his new album Good Times & Bad Advice.
SS: How was the show man?
Big B: It was good. Chicago for me is always good. They embrace me and its fun. It’s tiring. One dude up there jumping around gets to be a little tiring.
SS: You’ve been on the tour for a couple of weeks now, how has it been so far?
Big B: The tour has been good. We’ve got Blaze Ya Dead Homie and the Aussies Bliss N Eso and their DJ, DJ Izm. They’re the number one band in Australia. They’re good friends of mine and this is the second time I’ve toured with them so it was cool to get them back over. The Kings wanted them over and it worked out good. It’s been good. The Kottonmouth Kings are the reason I got a break. They’re the ones that put me out on my first record so it’s cool to come back and play with them for a little while.
SS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten from the Kottonmouth Kings?
Big B: Just to do my own thing and not listen to anybody. It’s worked so far. They’ve been cool about giving me creative control of all of my music. They’ve never tried to push me in a certain direction so that’s the biggest thing.
SS: Why’d you name the new album Good Times & Bad Advice?
Big B: You know over the years of making music I’ve had a lot of good times doing this—I love making music. There are a lot of people who give you advice along the way and most people have no idea what they’re talking about. That’s where the bad advice comes in. We could have done a lot of things different. Sometimes I put a lot of faith in people who I thought had my best interest and it didn’t happen that way so that’s how the album got the title.
SS: Give me an example of some bad advice somebody gave you.
Big B: A lot of people said don’t try to go mainstream and stay underground. I think they were afraid that I couldn’t put out records that could make some noise in the mainstream. Last summer was a big summer, I had my first big radio hit [Sinner] and now we’re back again and it’s just getting bigger and bigger. There are so many bands that aren’t making noise so I feel privileged to be out right now making noise on the streets. I’ve got a buzz, you saw it tonight. I’m from Las Vegas and to come to Chicago and rock it like that it’s good.
SS: How’d you hook up with Everlast to record the single Before I Leave This Place?
Big B: Eric’s just the homie. The last few years we’ve been good friends. He’s one of my biggest influences along with Johnny Cash, and tons of other guys. From House of Pain I’ve been a big fan. I brought the song over to him and he said he’d do it. My biggest thing is I pride myself on being a guy that’s never paid for collaborations. If cats want to make music with me and they’re homies, that’s great. I’ve never had to pay anything to do that, he’s just a good friend. I’d already written the song and I brought it to him to make some changes and he said it was dope. We made little tweaks and that was it.
SS: Tonight you rocked with a DJ but your music incorporates a lot of live instruments. Do you ever perform with a live band?
Big B: Yeah, all the time. All the big festivals I do with a live band. It’s just hard to get 5 guys out here on the road and do this. It’s good to do both things so we don’t lose the Hip-Hop element of it. When they see it with the band they see more of the Rock and Reggae element of it. I’m doing a big festival with Eminem and some other guys so I’ll put a band out for that. I’ve played with Smashing Pumpkins, Slash, Common, and Travie McCoy at a festival. For the big festivals I bring out a band to make it bigger and try to compete with all the big dogs.
SS: It’s been like seven years since your first album High Class White Trash. How have you grown as an artist since the first album?
Big B: I actually got smaller as an artist if you look at it physically. I’ve lost a lot of weight since then.
SS: [laughs] How’d you lose the weight?
Big B: Just jumping around on stage every night. I took a lot of junk food out of my diet and I watch what I eat. I’ve been doing that for a long time.
It’s just the sound and the way I feel. I’m not the same high class white trash type of guy. Over the years I’ve evolved. I’m a father, I have two daughters. Things just change and that’s where my music’s went. I don’t think I have anything to prove. In seven records if I can’t get my point across I’m doing something wrong. Over the years it all just evolved into what I want to do.
SS: A lot of people know you from the show INKED. How has the show impacted your career?
Big B: INKED was good for a few years. It was great but I think the hype has died off. Carey Hart is one of my best friends. I’ve been working with him for like 12 years so it was an opportunity with the show to go and do that. It was cool. Its scripted reality, people don’t realize how bad reality shows are. So many people are entertained by it but they don’t realize how scripted it is. It was a cool thing to do but it definitely has passed. I see people in the airport and they say, “You’re the guy from INKED!” They don’t even know I make music. It was a good stepping stone for me.
SS: Give me your best road story from this tour.
Big B: I’m on the married with children bus so there’s not much cracking on my bus. I’d love to give some good tour stories but this is the mellowest bus I’ve ever been on in my life. One time we were here in Chicago on another tour and somebody robbed a bank and the money bag blew up right out here in front of House of Blues. Whatever street that is..
SS: State Street.
Big B: State street, yeah! There was money with dye on it all across our bus and the ground. Some guy robbed a bank and the money bag blew up. There was red dye, it was raining, and there was hundred dollar bills sticking to the bus. There have been some crazy stories but this is the mellowest tour I’ve been on. I’m on the married with children bus.
SS: On the song They Say you say, “I don’t fit into any clique or genre/But I don’t feel like I have to explain it any longer.” Explain what that rhyme means.
Big B: It’s kind of one of those things where you go to the record store or radio station and they have to figure out where they’re gonna put you. When I did that song I was trying to prove my point that I’m not going to sit there and try to tell you why I should be in the Rock section or the Rap section. I wanna make feel good music whether it’s Hip-Hop, Country, Reggae, Rock or whatever it is. That’s what I did with this record. I don’t have to explain it anymore. Either you get it or you don’t and that’s where that song comes from.
SS: Why should fans go out and buy Good Times & Bad Advice?
Big B: Because I will hunt them down and find them if they don’t!
Catch Big B on the Party Monster Tour:
Sep 20 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s
Sep 21 – Milwaukee, WI – The Eagles Club
Sep 22 – Minneapolis, MN – Cabooze
Sep 23 – Fargo, ND – The Venue at Playmaker’s
Sep 24 – Sioux Falls, SD – Nutty’s North Oudoors
Sep 25 – Kansas City, MO – Beaumont Club