One of the few MCs to put an album out post-9/11, Mystikal said the tragic events made him switch up some of his music while recording his December 18 release, Tarantula. "It had a little effect. It made you pay attention to the words you said, even if it was something you had written [prior] to the attacks. I said in one verse, 'I'm so bad I can knock down buildings and chop down trees.' Knocking down buildings wasn't cool no more."
His current single, "Bouncin' Back," finds him screaming on Osama bin Laden but keeping the party vibe going. "Just something positive," he said. "Something that's not gonna add to the all the bad stuff that's happening. I tried to keep it current, involve anthrax and all that stuff in there" (see "Mystikal Army Vet, Bedroom Commando Salutes America").
Mystikal said the song came about as an 11th-hour addition because he and the Neptunes, who produced the track, were having a hard time recreating the magic that made their previous efforts, last year's "Shake Ya Ass" and "Danger (Been So Long)," blockbusters.
"Its kind of like a Mardi Gras, second-line beat," Mystikal said of the song's track. "That's some New Orleans heritage. 'Bouncin' Back' came about in Atlanta. The Neptunes and myself, we tried something previously but the vibes weren't clicking. I was like 'Man, we gonna try this again.' They're too tight, they too talented. Towards me completing the album, I got a call, 'We ready, come on to Atlanta.' [They had the beat for] 'Bouncin' Back' on there.
"[Pharrell Williams] had that hook," he continued. "That's the great thing about them guys, when they come with a track, nine times out of 10 they gonna have a hook. Creative, real creative."
The MC was also stoked to be able to share ideas in the studio with Juvenile for "Settle the Score." They had talked about making music together for years when they were both rolling tight with their respective cliques, No Limit and Cash Money. However, with the undercurrent of animosity between the two crews back in the days, they never had the chance.
"Why not?" Mystikal barked. "Why couldn't we see that? He's from New Orleans, I'm from New Orleans. He's hot on his end. I'm the hottest thing on my end. Let's bring this together. That was a power move, man.
"The artists were alright," he said of the clash between the two factions. "That was between the CEOs. But you had to roll with who you was rolling with. It wasn't no serious beef or nothing, but I couldn't be over there fraternizing. It was business. We sold records on that. People were interested in what was the next thing somebody was gonna say. 'What they gonna say?' 'Settle the Score,' that's saying that 'A lot of stuff happened to us in the past, but it won't no more. We come to settle the score.' "
The fiery MC was shocked that Juvi not only wanted to rhyme on "Settle the Score," but he wanted to provide the beat as well. "I had no idea," Mystikal said with a smile. "When he told me he had some tracks, I was like 'Look man, I need you to just concentrate on the rap. Don't come with these little weak beats.' He put [the track] on and I liked Juvenile's beats better than the original producer's beats."
Two other people with whom he finally got the chance to collaborate were Redman and Method Man, on "Get It Started."
"I been trying to get them cats for like eight years now," he said. "When I first got my big break with Jive in '95, that was like my favorite artists, Redman and Method Man, Keith Murray and the Def Squad. I'm feeling them."
He was so hyped to work with the duo, he traveled to New York to make it happen.
"I ain't want it to happen no place other than New York," he said. "I wanted to experience it, a cipher with Method Man. The beat was playing, Red over there, I'm over here, and Meth over there. Room full of smoke, it was going down."