Rapper Big Pooh comes back to Raleigh

CorrespondentFebruary 7, 2013 

Big Pooh.

COURTESY OF KENT WILLARD

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    Who: Rapper Big Pooh, with Chaundon, Lute, Forever FC, DJ Skillz and Joe Scudda

    When: 10 p.m. Friday

    Where: Kings Barcade, 14 W. Martin St.

    Cost: $10

    Details: 919-833-1091; kingsbarcade.com

Since moving to Charlotte so his wife could be closer to her family, Rapper Big Pooh doesn’t perform much in Raleigh anymore. It’s been a year since the MC and former third of the acclaimed, Triangle hip-hop trio Little Brother performed for the local hip-hop heads.

Nevertheless, Pooh (government name: Thomas Jones) will be in Raleigh Friday evening for a show at Kings Barcade, one of a couple stops he’ll be making around the Tar Heel state. “Gotta make sure I at least come back to Raleigh at least once a year and, you know, perform for all the fans I have in that area,” says Pooh, on the phone from Charlotte.

Pooh (who’ll turn 33 on Tuesday) is mainly hitting the road because he released an album in November, “Fat Boy Fresh, Volume Two: Est. 1980.” It’s the latest in the “Fat Boy Fresh” series, which he started when he released “Fat Boy Fresh, Volume One: For Members Only” in 2011.

But don’t look for a deeper theme with these releases. “There’s really no sound concept behind them,” explains Pooh. “It’s more of a branding type of concept behind them. Also, it allows me to go in whatever direction I want to musically and to take people along for the ride and work with different people that I haven’t worked with before.”

For this album, he took it overseas and collaborated with French producer Astronote, who provided Pooh with beats that make up most of the album. “He just started sending beats and he sent them, like, within a week,” he says.

“I had four songs – basically had the skeleton for four songs – within the week. So, we just took it from there. Like, I didn’t set out to create the project. It kind of just happened organically.”

So, how did a Virginia-born, North Carolina-based MC and a producer from France get together ? “I hooked up with him through the Internet, obviously,” he says. “I’ve actually known about him for a few years now, and I’ve actually did some tracks, some work over his music before, that never was released. And I always kept in tune with what he was doing. And, likewise, he kept in tune with what I was doing.”

If this cross-continental union between a North Carolina MC and a European producer sounds familiar, it’s because it’s reminiscent of how Phonte Coleman, Pooh’s former partner-in-rhyming in Little Brother, and Dutch producer Nicolay Rook joined forces when they began the hip-hop/R & B band the Foreign Exchange.

However, Pooh insists this isn’t the beginning of a new side project. “It’s not a thing, you know,” he says. “As with that, they formed a group that continuously put out records. You know, ours isn’t going in that direction. It was just a project. That’s not to say we won’t collab on anything else in the future. But just, you know, for the time being, that was just one thing that we did.”

Speaking of Phonte, should Little Brother fans keep hoping that a reunion will ever be in the cards, or should they all move on?

“It is just something that people gonna have to learn to move on from,” he says. While the 2nd “Fresh” installment features appearances from fellow Justus League/Hall of Justus partners Chaundon and Joe Scudda (who’ll be performing with Pooh tonight), Pooh’s former bandmates are nowhere to be found.

“You know, it’s one of them things where it’s definitely flattering to know that we had that type of impact or that people still wanna [see us]. But, you know, we just have to all learn to move on at this point.”

He does talk about the fans’ desire to see Little Brother back together again – as well as all the drama that surfaced in the midst of their breakup – on “Fresh,” in the songs “Friends” and “Sorry.”

“That was definitely addressing the situation,” he says. “For me, that was like me talking to a fan on ‘Sorry,’ whereas on ‘Friends,’ it was like a fan talking to me.”

And even though Coleman and producer/DJ 9th Wonder have long made up, collaborating on each other’s respective albums and what not, Pooh says that there’s currently not a relationship of any sort between him and his Little Brother brethren. “There is none,” he says, bluntly.

Is there even a possibility that you three can even get back to talking to each other? “I mean, yeah, there’s definitely a possibility,” he says. “You know, there’s always room for that. But, you know, that just has to happen when it’s time.”

Well, even if you can’t have all of Little Brother, at least Brotha Big is coming back to town for one night.

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