It’s been a decade since Bubba Sparxxx last dominated airwaves with the hit “Ms. New Booty.” Since then, he’s released two albums, Pain Management in 2013 and Made on McCosh Mill Road in 2014. Both failed to appear on any chart except U.S. Country, with modest positionings at that. Now is as good a time as ever for a return to prominence, and Bubba released The Bubba Mathis EP, a nod to his government last name, on Yelawolf’s Slumerican label.
A new label to call home and time out of the spotlight have rejuvenated the country rapper. The Bubba Mathis EP reasserts Bubba as a solid MC with tunes as satisfying as a home-cooked southern meal. His intentions are clear from the start, as “Ghost” proclaims him a battle-tested veteran who’s learned from his mistakes. “Guess you could say I’m a celebrate/Every day but you will never say/that ‘Bubba Mathis got caught up again and then lost all the shit he worked hard for again.’” Bubba also touches on his relationship with estranged producer Timbaland, declaring him neither a friend nor an enemy. It’s clear that he’s aware of the past but has it comfortably in the rearview mirror.
Sparxxx keeps things lit with feel-good tunes and assertions of his dedication. “Y.G.M.F.U.” features a breezy hook from Yelawolf and finds Bubba proudly noting his old-head status. “Underpay overwork me you won’t convert me/To a bitter quitter ten years over 30,” he raps. He revisits his work ethic on “Put in Work,” remembering his father’s advice to grind hard. This kind of reflection adds depth and a personal feel to the EP.
Bubba’s country roots are well watered on this succinct project, not just with tales of his childhood or in proclaiming he can “redneck with the best yet,” but in the production itself. He effectively combines rolling trap drums akin to DJ Mustard with guitar licks reminiscent of Lynyrd Skynyrd on “Ghost.” The foreboding piano keys and knocking drums on the whip-ready “Handle That” show Sparxxx is right at home on modern trap beats. Each beat is pulled together by Bubba’s bouncy flow, though sometimes his delivery is mush-mouthed to the point that words are indistinguishable. This occurs when rapping about Timbaland on “Ghost,” putting a small dent in formidable commentary. He also gives us an extraordinarily disturbing image on Y.G.M.F.U.,” pondering, “What if grandma had balls/She’d been grandpa might have ran off.” Make it stop.
It takes a major hit to propel a proper comeback, and while this EP won’t land Sparxxx back in too many iPods or streaming service playlists, The Bubba Mathis EP is still a savory batch of tunes that marks the zealous return of Hip Hop’s resident redneck.