How many times have you heard this rags-to-riches story? Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine is so enthralled by a rapper's demo tape, he plays it for arguably the best producer in the music industry. The producer, who happens to have a distribution deal with Interscope, teams with Iovine to unleash the MC on the world.
Only one thing: The blue-chip wordsmith is white. Once everyone hears his nimble wordplay and sees his dementedly entertaining debut video, they're so entranced by the cartoonish goings-on, they don't even notice his skin color.
On the strength of the hit "Ugly," Timbaland and his protégé Warren Anderson Mathis, a.k.a. Bubba Sparxxx, have been living a scenario that mirrors Dr. Dre and Eminem's multiplatinum-plaque collection agency.
Tim and Bubba will soon hit the world with a follow-up whammy. Bubba's next single will be "Lovely," another maniacal dancefloor call to arms. "We're gonna get a lot more conceptual," Bubba said last month about the admittedly "absurd" video that will accompany it. "It's actually gonna be like a story unfolding."
"He's got a little money in his pocket in 'Lovely,'" Timbaland added about the clip. "Bubba's gonna take care of his mommy and daddy, like he just won the lottery. 'Look, we won the lottery and we having fun and we getting some new clothes.'"
"Lovely" will be shot October 20-21. Sparxxx said Anthony Mandler will direct, although Interscope said a director has yet to be confirmed.
"We're gonna get Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the video," Bubba whom his crew affectionately calls "Andy" said. "We're gonna get Scott Caan, who played Tweeder in the movie 'Varsity Blues,' in the video. It's gonna be crazy. This is the one that's gonna really take it because I already depicted the ugly side of what Bubba is. This is his cool and more polished side."
Another thing you'll see in the video is Bubba's signature bright Polo shirts, which are totally en vogue in his adopted semirural hometown of Athens, Georgia.
"This is Southern white boy Versace right here, man," the 24-year-old said of the gold and green Polo shirt he wore. "I'm doin' it right now. Y'all thinking, like, 'Bubba is just chilling. He's laid back today.' Nah, I'll wear this to my wedding or something. I look as good as I could possibly look. This is just how we do it. A lot of people wear Polo, but we really made it a lifestyle in Athens. It's like you might miss a meal if you get some money and go buy a Polo shirt instead. That horse on the logo is just so Bubba."
Bubba's LP, Dark Days, Bright Nights, hits shelves October 9 as the first release on Timbaland's Beat Club imprint. If the husky MC's assessment of the project is correct, he and Timbo are going to be racking their brains for video concepts for at least another year.
"We got seven bona-fide singles on the album," Bubba said, "maybe 10. We flirted with the idea of 'Bubba Talk' being the first single."
"I'm gonna break it down," interjected Timbaland, who produced six tracks on the album. Organized Noise handled two tracks.
"The first line of 'Bubba Talk' says, 'Y'all don't know me at all/ I say the same thing, but slower than y'all/ A little Southern charm to top it off/ Okey-dokey, it's that Bubba talk.' It's basically answering the same question everyone asks: 'So what is Bubba?'"
Answer: a hot commodity. The Dungeon Family and Ruff Ryders have already scooped him up to appear on their winter crew albums, and if Noreaga gets his wish, Bubba will jump on a "Grimey" remix.
"That lets me know that real recognizes real," Bubba said of his newfound popularity. "And that's what hip-hop is all about: authenticity. Be truthful, tell your story and do it in a creative way."