Mike Jones Talks Paul Wall ‘Misunderstanding,’ Weight Loss & New Album [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
A decade ago, Houston rapper Mike Jones struck gold -- better yet, platinum, multiple times -- when he dropped his first single ‘Still Tippin’’ from his debut album, ‘Who Is Mike Jones?’ The track was released through Swishahouse Records and featured Slim Thug and Paul Wall, who also had strong ties with the H-Town rap mainstay. But for every big win, sometimes there’s an even more substantial loss.
“It was a lot of bulls---," the 33-year-old tells The Boombox. "It just wasn’t what I thought it was. Having to answer questions from people I never thought I’d have to answer to.”
Between his first and second solo LPs, five years elapsed -- ‘The Voice’ didn't drop until 2009 -- and the rapper says that it was intentional. “In those years, from 2006 through 2009. I was going through politics, so I went away,” he recalls. “I left the scene but I was always doing shows in the hood, on campuses. I’ve been working on new music, traveling.”
In 2010, Ozone Magazine asked Swishahouse fixture Paul Wall about Mike Jones’ whereabouts, to which he offered a curt response.
"Ever since he left Swishahouse I haven't really kept track of him," he said. "I really didn't know him too well before he came to Swishahouse. I'd say he dug his own grave. He lied to a lot of people, he turned his back on a lot of people, and he burned a lot of bridges.”
When asked about that interview today, Jones bristles. “I mean, A., I don’t know why he would’ve said that,” he says. “I saw Paul not too long ago and everything’s cool. I think that was just a misunderstanding because I never, from what I know, burned bridges. I showed love to who showed love to me without getting into all the extra stuff.”
Wall also alluded to Jones being disloyal in the 2010 interview:
"I would've liked it to be like that [we were a unit], but Mike Jones didn't want that," he explained. "He kinda wanted it to all be about him. If that's how you want it, I'm not gonna be the one to beg you to stay around, especially since all my major success came not too long after the break up with me and Chamillionaire. I was in a mindframe where it was like, 'If you don't want to be here, I'm not gonna force you'...”
Watch Mike Jones' 'Still Tippin'' Video Feat. Slim Thug & Paul Wall
It’s been four years but Jones is clearly frustrated by the thought of Wall’s comment. “It’s just like when you put something together with other people and it blows up to the masses, that’s a beautiful thing but people don’t know what’s going on behind the screen, you know?" he states.
“It shocked me," Jones says, pausing. “Just imagine if you have your own hair boutique and it’s you and 19 workers. It blows up for you. You’re a fave but you still got the other 19 workers that are eating. Now they may not like the way that you’re eating ... I mean, I ain’t choose to come in and take everybody’s whatever. The people put this on me.
"When ‘Who is Mike Jones?’ came out, the people said ‘Mike Jones is the next n---- out,’ I didn’t say, ‘Don’t buy their records and buy mine only.’ I didn’t pick that. The fans picked me. That’s why when I know you as a person, I’m thinking we still 100, I mean, I never would think you’d do that."
The rhymer feels like personal issues should've stayed out of the media. "Everybody’s gonna say that you burned the bridge with the people you created things with. But they don’t know what’s going on because you’re not trying to put that laundry out there. It’s like, if me and you fighting, you keep family business inside. There’s no reason for nothing that I say about anybody to hit any magazine or media or anybody. It should’ve never went there. Even when I saw him, it was all good, like, ‘Oh, it was just a misunderstanding.’ Like, he know me and I know him.”
During the time Jones was out of the limelight, the Houston sound had taken off with rappers like Drake and A$AP Rocky adopting H-Town-inspired flows. “Two things: one, it’s love because what we created, what we came out with,” he starts. “People were trying to say it was dead and over with, worn out ... That was a lie. ‘Don’t nobody wanna do this or talk about this no more.’ But now, everybody’s on that. And two, I just look at it as if they’re just showing love.”
Within the five years, Jones has been low-key, focusing on his well-being. He lost 100 pounds in the process just by jumping on the treadmill every day. “First in 2005, I was 305, 310 pounds, but I wasn’t trippin’,” he shares. “I wasn’t trying to lose anything really at the time because I was happy with my size but then when I started going through label politics and people not understanding the music, I took time away from all that and put time into working on my health.”
Jones reveals that the 2009 song 'Drop & Gimme 50' was actually somewhat inspired by his extreme weight loss. At the time he’d hit the 50-pound loss mark. “I said, ‘If I just lost 50, the ladies finna lose 50 by getting on the dance floor. Man. Last time I was in the club like, a week ago, these ladies dropped and gave me 50.”
“When the song comes on and I’m performing, people are just dancing to themselves,” he explains. “Grooving, you know?”
Mike Jones’s brand still stands, courtesy of his granny’s influence, a fact he acknowledges every chance he gets. She was the one who suggested he bypass the naysaying DJs and win the dancers over, that way his songs could get some spins at the strip clubs. She was also the one who suggested he use his cell phone number as a marketing tool.
“It was the best marketing idea,” Jones recalls. “That was just a good way to be accessible to the people. Regionally I was blowing up. And a lot of promoters were booking fake shows -- people were saying that I was a ‘no show.’ So it was like, ‘Hit me here and I’ll tell you if I’ma be at that show or not.’”
He says if she was still alive, she’d tell him: ‘Stay mashing.’ He’s trying his best.
In 2003, Jones was clocking $10,000 per show. By 2005, it was $80,000. But because of certain lawsuits regarding T-Pain’s 2005 hit ‘I’m ‘n Luv (Wit A Stripper),’ by 2006, Jones was spending most of his time in court.
Now that everything is squared away, legally, he’s able to move around a little more. He reveals that although he’s not getting that same amount of show money these days, he’s still doing just fine living off the brand he built 11 years ago.
“We not making the 2005 money these days because politics are keeping us from the big screen to hit those kind of licks but we’re still hitting $10K here, $20K there... We’re still moving because people respect the name.”
His third LP, ‘Where is Mike Jones?’ is about 60 percent done but there is the matter of negotiating a label situation. As it stands, Atlantic Records will be responsible for distribution. But in the meanwhile, his 'Money Train' project should be dropping soon. “It’s a movement,” he reveals. “It’s just a group of people who are all about making money and having money. Once people really understand what the Money Train is, then they’ll be onboard with it.”
Jones says that there are already a number of artists who’ve signed on for features on the mixtape but the team’s waiting on the official tracklist before sharing names.
It shouldn’t be too tough of a task for the ‘Back Then’ rapper, who says, even now, "they all on" him. “The love’s still there. It’s not even just about the girls,” he explains. “Back then it was like people ain’t wanna show me love when I was tryna get in the game but when I got hot, the demand ... They all on me, they gotta show me love now ‘cause they see everybody else all on me.”
“It was one time when a lot of people who didn’t even know who I was. That whole phase is over for me. We’ve already traveled that path, so all we gotta do now is reinvent the wheel and touch the fans that already fell in love with us.”
Listen to Mac Miller's 'Uber' Feat. Mike Jones