Celebrating a tasty new single, rapper Bubba Sparxxx tells Raymond Fiore about rebounding from the failure of his last album and what he's learned from his mentors
Credit: Bubba Sparxxx: Gary Gershoff/WireImage.com

Let’s be honest: Bubba Sparxxx easily could have been finished after the massive commerical failure of 2003’s acclaimed country-hop gumbo Deliverance. But after departing beat maestro Timbaland’s label, Beat Club, the lucky rapper landed another shot at platinum success on a different hip-hop heavyweight’s roster: Big Boi’s Purple Ribbon imprint. And sure enough, Sparrxxx is back with a top-10 album, The Charm, a sweaty top-10 single, ”Ms. New Booty,” and a wise new attitude. EW.com spoke with the bootyologist about his hip-hop mentors, what he thinks of that other white Southern rapper (Paul Wall), corny country-rap, and the controversial, half-naked marketing plan for ”Ms. New Booty.” (And no, he’s not the one showing off his ass-ets.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So do you really feel like the third album’s the charm for you?
BUBBA SPARXXX Yeah, I just feel like I cracked my own code as far as doing music I can be successful with. I think the hardest thing for artists to do is accept what people’s perception of them really is. Sometimes you wanna believe that you appear to be a little different than you actually appear to be.

So what’s changed in your own head? Sounds like you think people aren’t ready for you to be that different.
Exactly. And I think that’s where I made mistakes in the past, just trying to break too fast from what I was known for.

EW: You’ve learned some hard lessons in the music business?
Oh, yeah. Took some spankings along the way.

But even if it wasn’t very successful, a lot of people really liked what you were trying to do with Deliverance. Doesn’t that count for something?
The greatest thing about that record was we were able to mix country and rap and not be corny. ‘Cause today, mixing country and rap just screams Cowboy Troy. The fact that we could pull that off… I really believe the Deliverance album made someone like Cowboy Troy believe he could do it. But we were doing two different things, bro. Even Nelly and Tim McGraw came indirectly from that school of thought.

Now that there’s you and Paul Wall in addition to Eminem, do you feel like people are accepting you as more than just the other white rapper?
I definitely think so. Who would have thought 10 years ago, right before Eminem dropped, that the world would ever accept a white dude with ice grillz in his mouth? And because of the work Em did and I did, it really did provide the foundation for Paul to come out and do his thing, and I love what he’s doin’. It took Eminem and me to loosen up the world and get ’em ready for that.

It’s interesting that you’ve moved from Timbaland to Big Boi as producer, and also onto Jermaine Dupri, who’s your big boss as the head of Virgin Urban. What have all of these guys taught you?
I learned from some actual mistakes of Timbaland. Obviously, when I came out it was my first time as an artist, but it was his first time as a CEO [of Beat Club Records]. Whatever you spend, [the labels are] gonna get that money back before you make any money. From Big Boi I learned don’t ever remove the artistry from your business. And Jermaine’s just thorough, so thorough. And Mr. Collipark [who produced ”Ms. New Booty”] has the best understanding of club music of anyone I’ve ever been around.

Are Big Boi and JD hands-off bosses?
They both kinda work the same. They’re like, This kid knows what he’s doing. They both play the big-brother role and are supportive, but they also let me know when I’m f—ing up, that’s for sure.

Okay, so let’s talk about some booty. You took a little heat for msnewbooty.com, an 18-plus website promoting your new single that asked girls to compete for best-backside bragging rights by sending in thong and panty pics. What are your thoughts about the criticism?
I think you got too much time on your hands if you’re worried about that website. There are a lot more issues that are more pertinent that directly affect us as a country and a planet. You’re barking up the wrong tree.