Bubba Sparxxx has opened up about failing to live up to the expectations of Interscope Records executives, who thought the Georgia rapper was going to be the next Eminem.
Speaking to Vlad TV, Bubba (real name Warren Mathis) revisited the making of his second album, Deliverance, which he released via Timbaland‘s Beat Club imprint under the Interscope Records umbrella.
“It was a different sound,” Bubba said of the 2003 LP. “Tim and I had really went in and did some soul searching and we decided to swing for the fences, you know what I’m saying?
“I had just did the ‘We Ready’ Archie [Eversole] joint; it was the biggest I had ever been in Atlanta. People was hyped in the streets about Bubba Sparxxx and I was ready to go get with Lil Jon and come like that. But Tim was like, ‘Think about this: what if we made the music that sounded the way the ‘Ugly’ video looked?'”
Referring to Bubba Sparxxx’s breakout 2001 hit, the accompanying raucous video celebrates the stereotypes of southern life, and Timbaland wanted to make an album that best represented that part of American life while blending country, bluegrass and Hip Hop.
While Bubba was initially opposed to Tim’s idea as it was a huge departure from the sound of his debut album, Dark Nights, Bright Days, once he was sent the beat for “Comin’ Round” he was ready to buy into what Tim was selling. “When he played me that beat, that beat was so jammin’ and so original; I had never heard anything like it,” Bubba said.
There was also a sales angle the super producer was pitching to Bubba, as he felt like he needed to do it to live up to the hype that Interscope had set — and make up for lacklustre sales of his debut album.
“‘This is the only way you’re gonna sell 10 million,'” Timbaland is said to have told Bubba. “‘We gotta sell 10 million this time to get caught back up for us not doing the numbers we was supposed to do the first time.'”
Bubba continued: “I had made mistakes the first time too, you know what I’m saying? I think everybody in the situation made mistakes … I think Interscope as a label took things for granted because of the success Eminem had and they thought it was gonna come automatically for me.”
He then explained what he believes are the key differences between himself and Slim Shady and how he and Timbaland felt like they were competing with Em and Dre as a duo, especially with both parties being signed to Interscope.
“There were some areas where maybe I was stronger than him but there were some areas where he was more experienced,” Bubba said. “First of all, he was older than me when he first came out … We was just two different human beings on a different journey.
“This is something that Tim and I have discussed too. Yeah, I failed to live up to being the second coming of Eminem. He failed to become the second coming of Dr. Dre in that situation, even as far as getting caught up in that line of thinking of that’s what we’re competing with, or we’re trying to match up with this standard of feeling like that was the pressure that was on us, though, in that building.
“That’s what it was looked at as, the two different teams almost competing, even though we was always cool with ’em. But even just feeding into that line of thinking was a mistake, a grievous error on our part. And we definitely fell short of that [on the first album].”
Bubba Sparxxx circled back to Deliverance, reiterating why he and Tim felt like they needed to take a new approach and adopt a new sound in order to try and “get to that Kid Rock level.” Unfortunately for Bubba, the album didn’t perform very well commercially but he still believes it’s a classic album and called it a “cornerstone” for a lot of music that was to come later.
Elsewhere in the interview, Bubba discussed his addiction to Percocets which he was first prescribed after suffering a snowmobile accident.