Nowadays, many rappers are only cardboard cutouts of every other artist on the radio. Most singles sound just like the last one played. And only a select few artists can break the mold with originality. Atlanta rapper Mr. Bigg-Timeis one of those very few artists who has withstood the test of time and kept the South rocking to his music.
Most known for making clubs jump with his 2007 anthem “Check My Footwork”,Mr. Bigg-Time is back like he never left with his forthcoming 1803 Records-released mixtape The Return of Tommie Walker hosted by Mr. Bigg-Time and flossy lead single “Pull Out the Maserati”.
The mixtape features the flossy lead single “Pull Out the Maserati”, “If You Ain’t Talking Money (You Speaking Chinese)” featuring A-town trapstar Rocko and “Jump Fresh”, a song for the detractors who doubted him. Also, the mixtape features the heartfelt sentiment “Fallen Soldiers” featuring Wingo from Jagged Edge, a tune which pays homage to all of the slain soldiers of war and people lost to jails and senseless murders.
“My style comes from a lot of anger, a lot of stress, a lot of celebration and a lot of things that made me who I am,” says Mr. Bigg-Time. “I can’t give the people anything other than that. They won’t accept anything less.”
Born Tommie Walker in the south side Atlanta suburb of College Park, Mr. Bigg-Time grew up knee deep in the struggle. Because his mother was too busy pursuing her own extra-curricular activities, young Tommie spent the majority of his youth being bounced around between relatives’ houses.
With hustling being hereditary in his family tree, many of his aunts with whom he lived bootlegged beer and dollar shots of gin as well as sold dime bags of weed to make ends meet. It was during this early phase in his life that he fell in love with various musical genres.
“It was so much music at that time coming from my aunt’s house. They were always listening to Marvin Sease, B.B. King, Tupac and Michael Jackson,” he remembers. “I was raised in an environment around a lot of different music. I expressed myself in music because I didn’t have anyone to talk to.”
That was until he turned 15 and his grandmother took him in to keep him on the straight and narrow. “She never gave up on me,” says Bigg-Time. “Everybody else gave up. With all of her daughters and their kids, it was like 13 people living in an eight bedroom house.”
While there, his step-grandfather instilled in him the importance of hard work. Every day, Tommie would go out with the old man picking up cans and paper for recycling, earning $5 a day.
“That’s where I learned the value of a dollar,” he recalls. “Jumping in and out of trash cans with no gloves on, throwing cans and cardboards out taught me to appreciate everything that you have and not take anything for granted that you have.”
Ironically, though, all of those lessons went out the window when his grandmother fell on hard times and was unable to pay her mortgage. Feeling that he had to do something to avoid foreclosure, Bigg started stealing cars and using the money to pitch in on bills.
But even through all of his trials, tribulations and lessons learned, rapping was always in his heart. As early as middle school, Mr. Bigg-Time was always rapping with friends and even recorded with many pioneering Atlanta rappers like Damage and CMP Diablos. Bigg-Time is also credited with co-writing A-town group CMP Diablos’ 1998 independent classis “It’s Dem Damn Diablos.”
Bigg-Time didn’t realize his potential for musical greatness until an open-mic night at one-time Atlanta hotspot Club 559. “I had the best song but as soon as I got on stage, I said ‘what’s up, College Park?’ and got booed off the stage,” he admits. “Club 559 was on the west side. College Park is on the south. I went back two weeks later and the first thing I did was shout out the west side. I won first place, the bottle of liquor and $500.”
Knowing that he had no way to go but up, he dropped his independent debut album Ridah 4 Life in 2000 on indie label Tighter Than Tight. With no promotion whatsoever, he moved thousands of copies from hand to hand. He came back in 2001 with his follow-up album World Renowned.
He dropped his third album Welcome to College Park in 2005 and since fans couldn’t get enough of his raspy-voiced style, he hit them again with his highly praised album Independently Major in 2007 featuring the runaway single “Check My Footwork,” which also appears on the soundtrack for coming-of-age motion picture ATL.
Mr. Bigg-Time made so much noise from the bouncing club single that the sizzling hot anthem was spinning on every radio show, mixtape and club down South. He was also being courted by several major record labels. Then all of a sudden, he disappeared from the scene.
“That year when the song hit, I had five people in my family die back to back from cancer. I couldn’t focus,” he admits. “My mind was going here and there. I gave it up because I had to be there for my family.”
Coming back with a vengeance last year, he blessed the streets with The College Park Kingpin, a mixtape hosted by DJ Scream. And now he is set to soon drop his forthcoming mixtape The Return of Tommie Walker hosted by.
“We’re doing music not just to sell CDs but to wake the world up,” he acknowledges. “We have a responsibility and that’s what I’m here to do.”