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Big Pooh Talks Grown Man Rap

Rapper Big Pooh Talks Side Hustles and Making Grown Man Rap

The coming-of-age album is a staple of Hip-Hop storytelling.

Some of the genre’s most celebrated pieces of work come from the mind of young, passionate, and hungry wordsmiths eager to give the world a piece of their perspective. The coming of age story has become synonymous with classic debut albums like Nas’ Illmatic, Kendrick Lamar’s Good kid, m.A.A.d. city, and Kanye West’s College Dropout, each album cementing the Hip-hop newcomers as unparalleled titans of the culture.

Rapper Big Pooh’s coming-of-age story arrives after 20 years in the music industry, boasting 13 solo albums and five projects with the legendary underground Hip-hop duo, Little Brother. Big Pooh’s 14th studio album, To Dream in Color, is everything you would want from a classic coming-of-age story, but instead of exploring his story of adolescence, Pooh chronicles his journey to becoming a man after 20 years in the rap game. 

“The album started out as a story of my journey through the music industry for the past 20 years, but it became a project about my evolution as a man,” Big Pooh explains from his home studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the rapper has spent his recent years cultivating this project and reinventing himself.


“I felt that it was important that people got some reality out of the project. I know a lot of times people come to music for escapism, and they don’t want to hear their reality,” Pooh explains. “I think it’s important for young people. We get caught up in people's perceptions of us online, and we don’t see the missteps or mistakes. We just see their end result, or what we think is the end result.” 

One of the album’s standout tracks, “What Else" encapsulates the theme of the project beautifully, where the emcee gets candid about his experiences with the insecurities of living up to people's expectations. 

On the track, the emcee admits to financial struggle and seeking side hustles like driving Uber, swallowing his pride as a public figure to make ends meet for himself and his family.

Who else was here?/ Making a promise to the future, the skies are clear/No more crying out for help, time to dry them tears/ Taking a leap over the edge, I'm facing my fears.”

“It’s okay if you have to work a job while you’re pursuing this dream. Even I had to battle that,” Big Pooh explains. “There’s this perception that once you enter the music industry, you're automatically supposed to be rich or be well off enough that you don’t have to do anything else; when that’s not the reality for most people.” 

“I’m not guaranteed x amount of dollars every two weeks. I don’t have a health insurance plan because I make music; I don’t have a dental plan because I make music. I don’t have these things, so I have to go work to get them.” 

Another standout track comes as an ode to Rapper Big Pooh’s mother in “Mother’s Day,” where the emcee praises Ma Dukes for all of the sacrifices she made for himself and his siblings, much like 2Pac’s “Dear Mama,” or Kanye West’s “Hey Mama.”

You preaching love unconditional, mama/ I remember you told me that it hurt you more than it hurt me/Well, my scars are visible, your pain, I couldn't see/ Raising two young men on your own and a daughter.”

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“My relationship with my mom is great. I’m a momma's boy,” Pooh explains. “She taught me how to cook, how to clean. She was instilling things in me that I didn't know just by watching her.” 

Big Pooh’s delivers his coming-of-age story at the age of 42. After 20 years in the music industry, the North Carolina wordsmith boasts that he’s aged with grace, using his maturity and experience as a tool to sharpen his pen, continuing to tell his story in hopes of inspiring the generation to follow.

As I mature, and my perspective changes and I evolve as a man, I get sharper.”

“I create for the people that tell me that my music got them through a hard time in life,” Pooh explains. “That means I’m touching people in the same way music touched me.”

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