It’s not easy to catch the ear of someone who’s crafted bangers for hip-hop’s elite, so when you do, you must be doing something right. Enter BIGREC, the rookie vet who’s been spitting flames since he got his start 20 years ago in Tulsa. Now residing in Atlanta, the MC recounts how him and Diamond D first met, his Diamond D executive-produced album, Doomsday, dropping in April, and much more in this exclusive interview.
Your debut album Doomsday, executive produced by Diamond D, is dropping just before Diamond D’s The Diam Piece compilation. Does all this seem kind of surreal?
Yeah, man. I got started back in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That was the beginning of my music career. To be in a position where literally, 20 years later, I feel like I’m just getting my start…I’m basically a new artist now! (laughs)
Fans might not even be aware of your tracks from a few years ago.
Exactly! But this whole new audience, their introduction to me is “Bullseye,” which is a great look. They’re hearing me for the first time over a track by a legendary MC and producer and a pillar in the culture. I’m blessed to be in that position, even after all of this time of making moves and doing so much for so long. I’m humbled. I really am humbled by the opportunity. Doomsday is coming out before Diamond drops his project and that in itself is an epic setup. Everyone’s going to be checking for Diamond’s album and these are the only two projects coming out right now on The Diamond Mine imprint. It’s a very good position for me to be in and develop the relationship over time and just continuing to build. It’s just awesome. I’m excited about it all. I really am.
Diamond D talked about meeting you at a battle and how it all worked out from there. What do you remember about that first meeting?
I was a feature performer at an MC battle in Atlanta. He happened to be in the crowd. I always knew who Diamond D was but I had no idea he was there. I just did my thing and after I got offstage, long story short, he approached me, he said he wanted to work, and the rest is history! (laughs) That’s exactly how it happened.
It’s dope to be in a place and position where someone who is the best producer on the mic wants to work with me. And just the fact that this is the first time that he’s ever done a full project with an artist, he has never done this before. It speaks volumes that a legend would respect my craft and my work ethic and what I do. It’s humbling, it’s exciting, and just overall, it’s dope. It’s a really, really good feeling.
Because of Diamond D’s experience in both emceeing and producing, do you find you get better feedback from him?
Yeah, I definitely think so. Diamond is such a technician. He’s meticulous and a perfectionist and so am I. When we’re in the studio, I vibe out and I do what I do. And thankfully, because he is an MC and he respects my craft and he understands the craft because he is an MC himself, it flows the entire time. He might tell me to do this one thing or he may have an idea for a hook and to try it a certain way because he’s hearing something completely different when it comes to the production tip. him being a double threat like that, it’s dope and it’s a good feeling. We vibe out and make classics.
What kind of feedback do you get from Diamond?
He’s quiet and he’ll listen. When he feels something needs to be fixed, he has no problem fixing stuff. I love getting the criticism. I’m very open to it. As long as I’ve been doing it, I’ve wanted to improve on every facet of myself as an MC, from storytelling to being a concept writer to pulling emotions from every verse. I have yet to meet or encounter the perfect MC. With that being the case, I’m definitely continuing to strive to be that. But he’s quiet and he observes and he’s listening on a couple different levels.
You mention the cosign in “Bullseye.” What does his stamp mean to you?
It means a lot. It means a lot to me. And I think what kind of stands out the most to me is how it happened. It wasn’t anything planned at all. There was no fishing for it and there was no contacts being made. I wasn’t out there trying to get a cosign. I’ve always done what I do. I make music and I touch people. For that to happen literally as a result of me being in my element, it means a lot to me. And with it being Diamond D, his legend is obvious to anyone who’s been in tune with hip-hop over the years. He’s done so much and there’s a reason that he’s great. There’s a reason he’s legendary, not because of his volume or his body of works, but because of his gifts. His ear is ridiculous and then what he does and how he goes about producing. It’s dope.
There’s a difference between producers and beatmakers. There’s nothing wrong with either one. They’re just different. But for him to be such an incredible producer and then to be so hands-on with our process…This is the first time I’ve ever been produced by just one producer. It’s been a great experience. It’s like having a coach on the field that understands the game plan and also understands me and emphasizes your strengths and through the process, work on my weaknesses so that the best possible product will come out.
Diamond D described you as someone with “classic hip-hop sensibilities.” What do you think he meant by that?
Basically he was drawing the parallel of being a new school artist with classic hip-hop sensibilities. Being I’m a new artist in this day and age, basically, but my background and my understanding of the culture and my experience in the culture and my track record, it all screams classic hip-hop. My initial main inspiration lyrically, as an MC, has been Rakim, KRS-One, and Talib Kweli. Pharoahe Monch and Busta Rhymes. These are all people who have made their mark in the culture as MCs. I think that’s what it is. I understand the culture and I understand how hip-hop made me feel when I first connected to hip-hop and that’s what we’re bringing to the table. At the end of the day, my whole concept and my whole company, RHHIB, Real Hip-Hop is Back, is all about bridging the gap between what is considered mainstream and underground. Bridging the gap between the youth and the elders.
That’s all a part of my mission here. When I’m doing music and when I’m reaching out to young people and speaking at schools or doing some nonprofit events or things in the city, these are the things that are very important to me. And with that, I feel there’s a responsibility there and I want to represent who I am to the best of my ability everywhere I go. Bringing this generation up to speed with some history and I think even having the knack and the ability to reach out to my elder statesmen and my O.G.’s and kind of be a bridge to them and the younger generation. I am a bridge. Rec is short for “reconcile.” All I’ve ever done is bring people together and bridge gaps and build communities. That’s what I am and that’s what I represent.
Even with this situation, Diamond D is a triple-O.G. and I got some good traction in my career, as far as time and experience is concerned, but then there’s this whole young generation that’s coming up as well, so I find myself in the middle, yet again. This is my pedigree and this is where I am.
The “Bullseye” video came out great. What does that song mean to your Doomsday project?
That’s the first official full song on the album. We have the intro and then the very next song is “Bullseye.” To set the tone, there’s a type of juxtaposition between that and the next single, which is called “Unstoppable.” There’s an expectation, almost innately, when you hear Diamond D. You want to hear what he calls the “boom bip.” When you hear the track for “Bullseye,” it’s ridiculous. It’s hard. It’s hard drums. It’s a hard electric guitar and a hard bass guitar. I mean it’s just hard. There’s a feeling to that that’s kind of been missing. So here I come, a virtual unknown, just rocking over this. It translates well. With “Bullseye,” in essence, that hook, big shout out to DJ G-Supreme. It just came out beautifully.
My whole thing is that I’m hitting my target and that I’m focused on what I’m doing. It’s nothing but precision and desire. You focus, you hone in, and you hit the bullseye. It sets the tone for the album and for this leg of my career. It’s all fitting to me. Even with that video, we wanted it to have that classic sense. We did it in black and white and shout out to Tommy Nova, who shot the video. He’s amazing. A lot of people are not aware of his talents. Me and him are kindred spirits in that we’re both renaissance men. We’ve both been blessed with different talents. Not only is he an amazing videographer, but he’s an amazing producer and MC. It’s just dope to see how that video came together. We captured the essence that we wanted and we gave cats that raw energy. What you saw in that video is what Atlanta’s been witnessing for the last seven years. It’s very true to form and that’s why that video is so special to me.
And that’s not your first Tommy Nova video.
Exactly. He did my first video when I moved to Atlanta for a song called “I Am.” As a matter of fact, that was Tommy Nova’s first video that he shot besides what he’d done for himself. I’m the first artist that Tommy Nova did a video for, which is crazy. Amazing. Full circle.
DJ Premier was just cutting up “Bullseye” on Sirius. What did that mean to you?
Oh, dude. That messed me up, man. I had just got off the stage. And shout out to my man Phene, who was on the way to come check out the show. The irony of that is that he was on the way to come and watch me rock and this comes on the radio. It’s not like he hadn’t heard the song. Phene is one of my brothers. Primo was playing a Diamond D cut and then he scratched in “Bullseye.” This isn’t the first time it happened. Another one of my friends heard me around Christmas but she hadn’t heard the song at that time. Primo was spinning it right before Christmas. He debuted it on Hip-Hop Nation on satellite radio and he was just killing it. She called me all frantic like, ‘Yo, what are you doing?’
It was just an amazing feeling to know that Primo was digging my music and that he was feeling it. Well, a couple months later, here we are and he’s not just spinning it, he’s cutting up all over it. It was amazing. Phene was in the audience and he told me I wouldn’t believe it. And he told me, man. It felt so good. It was a very rewarding type of thing and it’s really just scratching the surface. It’s really the beginning. There’s so much ahad. The album hasn’t even dropped. The world hasn’t heard the second single yet. There’s so much ahead and I’m excited about the journey. I really am.
Absolutely. Everything was so organic. This was a very organic project in how we put it together. There wasn’t a rush. We’ve been working on it for awhile and just kind of vibing and building. We didn’t start working on the album when we met. We were just building a relationship and we were working on some music for my group The Pentagon. Right after Diamond and I met, that’s when the group actually formed and then we just kind of got in the lab, the six of us, and started vibing and coming up with some stuff. Fast forward and there was a break and then Diamond and I started working on our project. And now that it’s coming together and the season is right and the timing is right and Diamond is also working on a project for The Pentagon and that’s gonna drop later on. It’s a beautiful thing. It really is.
Do you think fans will go back and look for your older material now?
I definitely expect it. In essence, Doomsday is like a workout. I think it’s gonna bring the respect and the appreciation back for a body of work. As far as hip-hop is concerned, it’s a very single-driven landscape. Part of it is necessary just for the business of music and what have you, but people don’t really sit down and listen and experience an album all the way through. Part of it is this generation, but they don’t listen to an album all the way through and where an album has replay value. What I think is so different from back in the day is that it was creative for you to maintain a certain feeling for an artist and whatever they were conveying in the project.
And we wanted to bring that essence back to the table. We wanted to bring quality music back to the table. It’s a return to just an emphasis on quality. It’s balance. In “Doomsday,” we’re talking about the essence of the entire album – “more talent, less acting, more substance, less flashing.” It’s not about eliminating one thing or just doing it one way. Let’s just find the balance.
Are you on Diamond D’s The Diam Piece?
I actually did a song called “The Dumb Out” with R.A. the Rugged Man, but that’s actually going to be on my album. I’m on a bonus cut though.
What else should we expect from BigRec?
I think now that when this drops, there will be more of an awareness of my presence. I’m going to continue to do music and continue to collaborate with other artists that I respect and just continue to keep the ball rolling. My group The Pentagon has some music that’s going to come out. We’re working on that currently. We’re doing shows, touring, and promoting the albums. They’re virtually dropping at the same time and it’s all going to be within a short amount of time from each other. Diamond and I will be coming through a city near you at any given moment. We’ll be moving around a lot.