Rapper “ColumbiaBT,” formerly known as Mr. Bigg-Time, is an artist for the people and by the people. In 2007, the southern poet had the streets on lock with his anthem “Check My Footwork,” which took him all over the country making him one of the first street bosses to maneuver like a major label signee while remaining independent. An Atlanta native, the lyrically savvy MC has seen his city infiltrated by artists over the years that reap the benefits planted by the legends before them without the gratitude of sowing back into the culture. With that thought in mind, the CEO of 1803 Records decided it was time to step from behind the desk and get back behind the mic. When you’re as passionate about your neighborhood, city, region and craft as ColumbiaBT is, it was the only logical choice.
Born Tommie Walker in College Park, GA, a suburb on the south side of Atlanta, ColumbiaBT grew up knee deep in the struggle. Passed around to various relatives’ homes due to his mom’s inconsistent lifestyle, the young talent became a product of his environment. Despite witnessing bootlegging and hustling, little ColumbiaBT soaked up just as much music as he did game.
ColumbiaBT found stability in his maternal grandmother’s home at 15 in an effort to keep him on the straight and narrow. While there, his step-grandfather instilled in him the importance of hard work. Every day, the teenager would go out with the old man picking up cans and paper for recycling, earning $5 a day. As early as middle school, ColumbiaBT was always rapping with friends and even recorded with many pioneering Atlanta rappers like Damage and CMP Diablos. The lyricist is also credited with co-writing A-town group CMP Diablos’ 1998 independent classic “It’s Dem Damn Diablos.”
Ironically, all of those early lessons of honest living went out the window when his grandmother fell on hard times and was unable to pay her mortgage. Feeling the need to shoulder that responsibility, ColumbiaBT began dabbling in criminal activity and using the money to pitch in on bills. But in spite of his circumstances, making music remained close to his heart. The burgeoning entrepreneur didn’t realize his potential for musical greatness until an open-mic night at now defunct Atlanta hotspot Club 559.
Knowing that he had no way to go but up, he dropped his independent debut album Ridah 4 Life in 2000 on indie label Tighter Than Tight. With no promotion whatsoever, he moved thousands of copies from hand to hand. He came back in 2001 with his follow-up album World Renowned. He dropped his third LP Welcome to College Park in 2005 and since fans couldn’t get enough of his raspy-voiced style, he hit them again with the critically-acclaimed release Independently Major in 2007 featuring the runaway single, “Check My Footwork,” which also appears on the soundtrack for the motion picture ATL starring hometown Grammy winning entertainer TI.
He had his city and world on his shoulders, including being courted by several major record labels, but ColumbiaBT surprisingly disappeared from the scene after he lost 5 members of his family to cancer. With a young spirit and an old heart, ColumbiaBT returned with a vengeance last year blessing the streets with The College Park Kingpin, a mixtape hosted by DJ Scream. And now he is set to drop his forthcoming project, The Return of Tommie Walker hosted by Mr.Bigg-Time. The lead single, “She Crazie” featuring Rich Homie Quan, is currently getting spins all over the southeastern region and is in current rotation on MTV Jams.