Who could forget when New Orleans-bred MC Mystikal registered on hip-hop’s Richter Scale over a decade ago with his trademark rapid-fire flow delivering such hits as “Move Bitch,” “Danger (Been So Long),” and the cross-over favorite “Shake Ya Ass”? The former No Limit soldier was at the apex of his career, garnering two Grammy nominations and collecting platinum plaques, before a sexual battery and extortion charge stopped his momentum in its tracks and landed him in the Louisiana State Prison system in 2004.
Released from prison in January, Michael Tyler takes his comeback very seriously. During his six-year stint, the Jive recording artist 86-ed the twisted braids, got his swoll on, honed his lyrical chops, and wrote feverishly in preparation of his upcoming post-incarceration opus that will “make people shake the teeth out they muthafuckin’ face.” Those are his words, not ours. We caught up with Mystikal after he performed in front of a packed House of Blues in Houston for a quick convo about freedom, comebacks, and reparations…
Interview by Maurice Bobb
Complex: This was your first show in Houston in six years. How did it feel?
Mystikal: The first thing I gotta say is, “Thank you, God.” I’m having a blast, ’cause it’s been a long time coming. I waited for this moment for a long time. It wasn’t gonna be tomorrow or the next day, but just looking forward to it and being here, it’s surreal and unbelievable.
Complex: You looked like you didn’t lose an ounce of your unbridled energy out there.
Mystikal: I had to keep it together. I got kids out here, family, and people that love me and respect me and count on me, so I couldn’t let them down. I was just in an unfortunate situation, but I knew God was working on me. I knew he was using me the whole time I was in jail. God was using me for real.
Complex: You went to prison at the height of your career. What was that like?
Mystikal: I was just scratching the surface. I was getting all kinds of movie scripts. Pimp My Ride? I was supposed to be the host of that. But then this happened and I thought to myself that God got something else for me.
Complex: Did you keep up with hip-hop during your stint?
Mystikal: Off and on. I was writing and listening to other artists out there. I try to set trends. I try not to let nothing influence me, so I figured it would be better for me not to even be tuned in, so I can keep it the way I do it. I noticed a lot of things have changed—I was gone six years. A lot of things have changed with this technology. When I came home, dudes were trying to get beats to me. I’m like, “Here’s my address, Fed Ex it to me,” and they like, “I’m gonna email it to you.” I’m like, “Nigga, what?!! For real?” It’s crazy. And by being a viral situation, you can press a button and get to so many people man. Them dudes in trouble! You don’t want to plug me in the Matrix. A nigga like me in the Matrix? Man, come on, a nigga can’t fuck with me, for real.
Complex: How did your style change while you were incarcerated?
Mystikal: It was natural. It was nothing that I had to try to do. Because Michael Tyler was in there. I left Mystikal at the gate because he was gonna be a distraction and create problems for me there, and I allowed Michael Tyler to do that time. I played him down as much as I could and by doing that, I had the opportunity to really grow in there and wise up. So if the man grew and got stronger and wiser, you know what the fuck that did for the artist? I was retarded before I left. These niggas outta here! They have no idea. The first time I came home and said “Here I Go!” on the radio, all I heard was the pitter-patter of rappers running. Where the fuck they going? I’m just doing an interview. These niggas is outta here and they know it. A lot of these dudes had a lot of success ’cause they ain’t have no competition. We about to see how bad your ass is. If muthafuckas still say you cold after I release this album, you a bad muthafucka.
Complex: What’s the title of your new album?
Mystikal: I gotta complete it before I put a title on it. But right now, it’s an unofficial title. I been calling it, The Big Shake Back like James Brown’s The Big Payback. Revenge! I’m mad! I’m about to destroy the universe. There’s gonna be some reparations!
Complex: What can we expect from the album?
Mystikal: KLC has produced some incredible shit! I was speaking this way years before I came home. But now that I been home, I been in the studio non-stop. And this album is damn near done and I can tell you, these niggas is dead! They in some serious trouble! I just threw an unofficial single out there, “I Don’t Like You.” The bitch is stupid. It’s just like, “Here, nibble off of this until I give y’all the real meal.”
Complex: Will it be released on Jive?
Mystikal: This the last obligation with Jive. What Jive can do for me at this moment is just stay the fuck out the way. Let me do what I do. When I finish what I’m doing, we can sit and negotiate and do what we gon’ do with it.
Complex: Do you think the fans will support your comeback?
Mystikal: I love everybody that supported me throughout this whole ordeal. There was always that moment when I was looking crazy with my head hanging down and then I get some mail from a fan saying how my music inspired them. And I would ask myself, “How the hell I touched they life with my music?” And at those moments, it be just what the doctor ordered. To have fan mail pouring in after six years off the streets? To have fans checking for me after all that time? That let me know I did something right prior to leaving these streets. So thank y’all, I really appreciate all the love. It’s just been a real big embrace since I’ve been out and doing these shows. Ain’t nothin’ goin’ down but the ground. I promise you this music is gon’ be well worth the wait. I assure you that.
Complex: Do you still have contact with Master P?
Mystikal: Oh yeah. We about to go to New York. They got the VH1 Hip Hop Honors coming up where they gon’ be honoring Master P for all his achievements, and we gonna perform “It Ain’t My Fault.” It’s gonna be like a reunion.
Complex: What do you think of all the rappers like Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane, and others going to jail at the height of their careers?
Mystikal: It’s crazy. A lot of people ask me if I feel like they targeting rappers, and I guess there’s truth to that, but the bottom line is, I’m in control of the decisions I make. I’m in control of the positions that I allow myself to be in. I’m in control of the muthafuckas I have around me. So in all those areas, I fucked up. So it ultimately falls on me. So you got to wise up with the decisions you make, especially if you fuckin’ successful. Respect your success. I came off the throne to try to show somebody to just pay attention to what the fuck you do ’cause it can cost you. Look how much it cost me, man. Six years. I’d be at that $100 million mark right now. I guarantee you. So now they done pissed me off. Now I want $200 million.