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Greatest Southern Artists of all Time

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Words Bayer Mack / Photo King Yella

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MYSTIKAL 5 ESSENTIAL MYSTIKAL TRACKS

Mystikal “Here I Go” Mind of Mystikal 1995 You ain’t got to look for a real nigga down South. If you want beef, he’ll let you know where to find him. Mystikal “Man Right Chea” Unpredictable 1997 Somebody said you was looking to get your ass whupped again? Well... Mystikal “Ain’t Gonna See Tomorrow” Let’s Get Ready 2000 There’s more relevant truth contained in this one song than in some rapper’s entire careers. Mystikal f/ Outkast “Neck of Da Woods” Let’s Get Ready 2000 Outkast never did a song with Master P, but even they had to acknowledge a legitimate heir to the throne. Mystikal f/ Nivea “Danger” Let’s Get Ready 2000 One of Mystikal’s most successful commercial singles, he gained a whole new audience with this hot beat and Nivea-assisted hook.

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reparation plus opportunity equals success. You would be hard pressed to find another rapper, besides 50 Cent, that embodies this principle better than Mystikal. He is the quintessential blue collar artist. Born deep in the swamps of Louisiana, Michael Tyler got his start challenging and opening shows for New Orleans rap pioneers like Warren Mayes, MC Thick, Sporty T, Gregory D and future Cash Money Records beat wizard Mannie Fresh. This growing notoriety led to the release of his self-titled debut on local indie Big Boy Records in 1995. While nowhere near a classic, the album did feature two tracks, “Y’all Ain’t Ready” and “Not That Nigga,” which foreshadowed the lyrical bravado that would come to epitomize Mystikal’s style. Jive was impressed enough with the burgeoning talent to sign him to a deal, which was reason to pause in the mid-nineties because, besides Outkast, there were no Southern rappers being signed to major labels. By the time Jive re-released the record in 1996 as Mind of Mystikal – this version included the pre-crunk, club riot anthem “Here I Go” – Mystikal seemed well on his way to living up to his “Prince of the South” claims. There was something unique about him. He matched his witty use of pop culture with a deep underlying sense of seriousness, like the disturbing track “Murderer,” a chilling verbal assault on the man that killed his sister. This made for a distinctive quality not found in any of his Southern rap contemporaries. In the city of New Orleans, he was the only rapper making noise on a major level. This caught the attention of Master P, who was looking to fortify his No Limit Records roster with someone other than family members. Mystikal and fellow Disc Makers alumnus, Fiend, provided the Tank with just the amount of legitimate lyrical firepower needed to blitzkrieg the rap world. By opting to take a supporting role to Master P’s ghetto Bill Gates aspirations, Mystikal laced his pockets quite handsomely, but found his creativity stifled by the Colonel’s micro management.

Mystikal’s first album for No Limit, 1997’s Unpredictable, was severely bogged down with guest appearances by labelmates and P’s old Bay Area cronies, but still managed to produce a trademark gem in “The Man Right Chea” – a blistering follow-up to Mind of Mystikal’s “Here I Go.” The rapper was quickly building a reputation down South as the soldier you least wanted to get into a lyrical squab with. While other rappers ducked warfare to avoid the risk of exposing their sub par skills, Mystikal was itching for a fight. Even so, Mystikal was relegated to session player status in P’s camp. He made guest appearances on the seemingly endless supply of Pen ‘n Pixel-ated product rolling off the No Limit assembly line and only owned the spotlight on five of the sixteen tracks on his next release, 1999’s Ghetto Fabulous. Mystikal hadn’t had a true solo album since 1995. The rap world knew his name as part of No Limit, but they didn’t really know him. Meanwhile, it can be said that Brian and Ronald Williams of Cash Money Records learned a lot from No Limit. However, it doesn’t seem that Master P learned anything from Cash Money. If he had, he would have noticed that the one person that always gets paid on time in Baby and Slim’s camp is Mannie Fresh. Instead, one of the most active business minds in Hip-Hop made one of the colossal blunders in rap history by dissolving No Limit’s relationship with Beats by the Pound over a reported $50,000 “disagreement.” While a defiant Master P proclaimed that “a beat can’t make me,” Mystikal was well aware the wheels had fallen off the Tank. The departure of Beats by the Pound, now the Medicine Men, paved the way for Mystikal’s exit. Now, instead of having to strike out on his own with unfamiliar producers, he would have the luxury of experimenting with new beat makers, like the Neptunes, while having the comfort of doing the bulk of his recording with a team he had grown to know and trust. It was the opportunity Mystikal had been preparing for his whole career.

What resulted was 2000’s breakout smash Let’s Get Ready. Everything was set up perfectly. Mystikal had already established a strong following in rowdy white tee circles with songs like “Man Right Chea.” The Neptunes provided two radioready-made-for-MTV singles in “Shake Ya Ass” and “Danger.” Even comedian Cedric the Entertainer was opening his Kings of Comedy sets with “Here I Go.” This sizzling mix of street credibility and commercial appeal was thrust upon the unsuspecting public with all the force of a tsunami. Let’s Get Ready expertly showcased Mystikal’s stunning lyrical acrobatics (“U Would If U Could”), refreshing creativity (“Family”) and introspective spiritual analysis (“Ain’t Gonna See Tomorrow”). Like a well trained professional boxer, Mystikal exhibited a dazzling array of lyrical punches and combinations, easily dispatching foes on “Ready To Rumble” and “I Rock, I Roll.” Southern rap royalty, Outkast, even produced two heaters to seal the win. The summer jam “Neck Uv Da Woods,” featuring Andre and Big Boi, cemented Mystikal’s upper echelon status, while “Braids” subtly jabbed former label No Limit: “You should’ve known better! Is it cause I flow better? They kept me in the shade.” Let’s Get Ready fulfilled all the promise Mystikal demonstrated five years earlier. Still, the industry was completely caught off guard when the album sold over 300,000 units in its first week to take the Number 1 spot on Billboard from Madonna and hold off platinum boy band 98 Degrees. Eventually selling more than two million copies, Let’s Get Ready was so popular, Master P actually claimed he had produced the disc himself. 2001’s disappointing Tarantula featured the unimaginative “Pussy Crook.” Mystikal then began hosting his own Liquid City porn series. In a dark ironic twist, the rapper was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison for extortion and sexual battery in 2004. OZONE APR 2005

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