For the past decade or so, the reconstruction of Michael Tyler has been oddly similar to the rebuilding process of the city from which he came.

Like New Orleans, the high voltage spitter that Hip Hop would come to know as Mystikal was at a low point. After serving six years in the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center for an alleged sexual assault, the former No Limit live wire questioned his own place in Hip Hop’s transmogrified landscape. Just when he thought things couldn’t get worse, he went back to jail for another 90 days. After that his long rumored comeback album Original was beginning to look and feel more and more like legend (not Rakim legendary but more like the Loch Ness Monster), meaning non-existent.

Like the 504, Mystikal has re-established himself and is back to feeling right. In an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, the man-right-chea talks about getting past his own self-doubt, receiving Master P’s blessing to sign with Cash Money, and how Baby might have saved his life.

Mystikal’s Back To Work With Pharrell, Mannie Fresh & Bruno Mars

HipHopDX: “Robert Deniro” and “Feel Right” sound very different from each other. Is that by design?

Mystikal: By design man, by design. Listen, I’m tryna reach the people that I missed, actually the people that missed me while I was gone. It wasn’t the Bruno Mars fans, it wasn’t the “Feel Right” fans. You know what I’m talking about that’s a whole, that’s a hustle of another color.

If I would have just came home, and just came straight from what I was doing and went straight to Bruno Mars, I’da missed a lot of my fans that was in the street, I wouldn’t have connected with a lot of them. The “Robert Deniro” is strictly for the streets. I mean that’s for everybody. I don’t make anything for one person, but my intention was to let them hear the rapper that they missed. That sound, like the me, that they missed right there.

DX: As far as a label situation do you have any big announcements?

Mystikal: No, I already kinda spoiled it when I said Bruno but we talkin’ man we talkin’. That’s my dawg, man, for real. Also Mark Ronson, so we’re doin’ some good things man.

DX: As far as other producers, are you working with anyone? Pharrell?

Mystikal: Oh yeah, he told me he had the direct quote. This is the direct quote, “I have an armored car beat for you, Mystikal. An armored car beat.” So that’s gonna be pretty hard. Definitely. We’re just working the schedule out.

DX: And another super-producer I have to ask you about is Mr. Mannie Fresh

Mystikal: Oh yeah. Man, I actually recorded a damn country song with him. The song was – yes, for real – I didn’t realize it was a country song. Don’t get nervous or nothin’. The song is for Dallas Davidson. That’s who the song is for. I didn’t even realize Mannie produced it and, man it’s bangin’ man. It’s bangin.’ It’s a song called “Rat Pack.” That thing bangin’ man.

DX: When are you about to drop it?

Mystikal: That’s his project. That’s for his project. That’s just a feature.

DX: So you and Mannie is doing some exciting things?

Mystikal: Oh, me and Mannie. I talked to him. Mannie has been busy, man, he been doin’ some big things. And it’s crazy, I’m looking at Pharrell and I just told him, I said, “Boy, you right. They about to feel Mannie Fresh’s presence for real. Well, we always do and always have but on another level now, so yeah it’s going down.

Mystikal On Acting, Politics & Getting Excited About Music Again

DX: Have you thought about going back into acting?

Mystikal: Yes, one thing at a time. Yes. You know, I wanna focus on getting this music where it is cause I’m really really excited about the way the music been coming out. After I finish writing a song I run to the studio. Just been excited about it man, so it’s coming out good.

DX: When you’re writing now, what’s different now versus late 90s early 2000s?

Mystikal: It’s the same. I’m back in love with it. When I first came home man everything was different. It was a mess you know what I’m talking about so now i found my way back to the passion for it man. I never lost my passion for the performance side of it but just the composing part of it cause like listening to the radio I’m like “I’m not really finna try to…I don’t wanna do no records like that, you know, like some of them. Now they got a lot of good stuff out there too but they got a lot of stuff that doesn’t have no soul to it to me. That’s what I feel like.

DX: The one that got me real hype was when you jumped on that “Wild Boy” remix. That was tailor-made for you.

Mystikal: Exactly. There’s a lot of stuff that I could fit in and a lot of it I don’t so you just gotta kinda find your lane man and go with your move.

DX: Speaking of the performance aspect. There are so many young artists coming out do you see yourself in any particular artist?

Mystikal: Do I see myself? Well, two of ‘em I signed. One is Lil Hood, he’s from East St. Louis and one’s name is Y Dot Luck, he’s from New Orleans. I see that “I’m not taking no for an answer” presence, you know, when they’re on the stage so, I went in here and snatched two of ‘em for real.

DX: I’m gonna switch gears into politics real quick because you served the country did you watch the Republican debate?

Mystikal: No, I missed it, man. I saw the countdown like hours, I was like “Ooh I gotta see what they finna do.” I wanna see what Trump and them gonna say, see how this gon’ go.

DX: What would you look for in a presidential candidate?

Mystikal: I don’t know. I’m trying to get my life together right now. That don’t have nothin’ to do with me for real.

DX: It was recently announced that Master P was going to do a biopic. What are your thoughts on that and have you been approached to have any input?

Mystikal: Well I’m gonna have to be involved some kinda way, aren’t I? I think, so not yet. I’m sure he’s still at the preliminary stage of it or whatever.

Reuniting With Masta P & His Relationship With Birdman

DX: Do you still talk to P?

Mystikal: Yes, yes, yes. You know, he been a mentor for me for a while. And also Baby now too, you know, so if I need a if I have a problem with something or a question I wanna ask I can call and say “Hey P bro what you think?” and he gon’ give it to me for real with no cut on it.

DX: And having been under the wing and working with both those guys what’s the difference in working with those two?

Mystikal: I mean there’re a lot of similarities, it’s just I don’t know, ain’t really, one of ‘em named P and one of ‘em named Baby, you know what I’m talkin’ about? They both have empires and they’re major things for New Orleans music.

DX: Can you recall the conversation that you and Wayne and Birman had to smooth things over?

Mystikal: Listen, man, Baby been approaching me about signing with them when I still was on No Limit. He used to call me like “We need to sit down” you know, I used to act funny with him [like] “I’m already sitting down,” so after I went through my little, the little mess i went through and came home, he had a spot for me. He called me and I was a little hesitant because of the No Limit situation. I didn’t wanna be looked at, “Ah, you go jumping from No Limit to Cash Money since Cash Money blowin’ up now.” You know, and I was kinda leery about it, but I talked to Master P. Like I said, I was like “Man,” he was like “Man, you better do that man,” you know what I’m talkin’ about and when I signed he called and congratulated me so.

DX: Really? Was P supportive of it?

Mystikal: What? Very, super supportive of it. Super, definitely.

DX: And what about Wayne? Do you remember the first talk you guys had?

Mystikal: Well, it was Baby and Slim I was talkin’ with as far as getting the business side. You know, Wayne an artist. Wayne was somewhere ridin’ that skateboard, counting millions of dollars, know what I’m talkin’ bout so yeah it was Slim and Baby who I talked with to make that happen.

Mystikal Remembers Charles “Big Boy” Temple

DX: Is there anyone from the No Limit days, I know you linked up with Fiend, is there anyone else from the No Limit days that you’ve linked up with?

Mystikal: Well, I talk to Mac every day. Mac is about to come home. The camouflage assassin, Macadon. I just got off the phone with him a few minutes ago, so yeah I’m gonna do something with him too. As far as having him in a label with me. I got ambition for Fiend. Fiend doing his thing, though. Fiend doing his thing. You know he got a spot with me. If he blows up before me I got a spot with him so it don’t matter. You know what I’m talkin’ about. It’s all love.

 DX: How did you feel about the death of Charles Temple of Big Boy Records?

Mystikal: Yeah man that was a tough blow. I had talked to him, I guess about two weeks ago I had, whatchu call that? I had an epiphany. It was like four in the morning, and the people that know Charles Temple, that know Chuck, know Big Boy know he ain’t finna answer the phone in the wee hours and all that, you know, he goes in early, he knows, I’m talkin’ about a consummate businessman, you know, didn’t do all the street stuff, was just business, so when I called him at four I didn’t expect him to answer the phone. I was gonna leave a message, but he answered it. And I was like “Man, I got my super powers back bro. I’ma help get Big Boy back off the ground. I’m getting my thing off the ground and I’ma help Young Gabe and we just had a lot of plans to do some fun stuff man, and some real stuff and we never got a chance to do it.

DX: Tell me in your words his legacy and his meaning to the city of New Orleans.

Mystikal: He was the man responsible for introducing me to the world man. He was the first one to believe in me and just give me that shot so definitely.

DX: When you came home you said all your accomplishments felt like a dream. Where are you at as far as your progress on that statement?

Mystikal: When I first came home the first thing I did, I talked to Master P, I’m like “Man whatchu doin’? What’s up what’s up? And I guess he was doing some political stuff, I was seeing him with like Oprah and Obama and things like that trying to kinda clean up rap a little bit from some of the mess that some of the rappers were doing and he wasn’t really doing anything so I went the Cash Money route and I kinda got disillusioned after that cause upon signing with them. First of all, I think Cash Money’s job was they just was really saving my life man. i think Baby was sitting back and he was looking at me on the shelf about to fall and crack, but he caught me, was like “Nah man. You know you special in this rap game,” and didn’t let me crack to pieces like that. Put me with his big powerful brand and his concert money went up, a nice signing bonus and just gave me some life but I don’t think it was about music with us. I don’t think it was about music, so they looked out for me. They really did.

Working With Busta & What He Learned When He Came Home

DX: Have you spoken to Busta Rhymes?

Mystikal: Man you know Busta, when I came home Busta and me, we did four. We did four together. We did two for his album and two for mine but you know what, things just so different now without the power, you know that real machine behind you, and you know Busta was over there (at Cash Money) too, and I thought we was finna man, we had some high hopes but it wasn’t about the music, so I was disillusioned for about a year after the Cash Money situation, I was like “Man, do the rap game still need me?” It was It kinda hurt me. Then it’s been I guess about three months I have been going through what I’m going through and just excited. Can’t even go to sleep just happy. Happy to be rapping again and just to like rap again you know what I’m talkin’ about so I got one of my artists I signed Lil Hood, he called me to do a song with him it’s called “Still In Denial” and that young man might have just saved my career with that move so it’s some good things finna happen man for real I’m back. Believe that.

DX: What did you realize when you came home from your stint?

Mystikal: Comin’ home, I really realized how much respect I have, man they call me OG. Everybody my age they don’t call OG, you know what I’m talkin’ about so I got respect out here man. That shit feel good. I earned it though now. I definitely deserve it and I earned it but damn it feels good.