"Fuckin' b**ch! F**k! S**t! Mannnnn! Jesus, Lord. F**k! Boooo! Boooo!"
It's Tuesday night, May 1, and Mystikal is looking in the mirror of an otherwise featureless room in the basement of SOBs, a New York club where the rapper is scheduled to give one of his last shows before beginning an 81-day prison stint for probation violation. He's never heard of 25th Hour, the Spike Lee film revolving around Edward Norton's last days before serving a seven-year prison term, but it's hard not to imagine a reverse version of the film's famous "mirror scene," in which Norton blames everyone but himself for his wayward path.
Mystikal entered a Louisiana prison yesterday (May 14) on probation violation stemming from a domestic abuse charge and while he won't, either for legal or personal reasons, discuss the specifics of the case, tonight, he offers his mea culpa. "It's so embarrassing," said the rapper. "But I want everyone to know I made a mistake. I hope we can all embrace each other and support each other.
"Let me say this before we do any f**kin' thing: Fellas. Fellas. I'm talkin' to the fellas." He chooses his words carefully, the only time he's not giving unfiltered responses. "In a relationship, sometimes, ahhh, tempers flare. Walk away. Me? I'ma run. Just walk away. I'm just so disappointed and ashamed in myself. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise, though. When Katrina hit, a lot of people were forced to leave and some of them found all new opportunities that they may have never found."
The New Orleans rapper is best known for his gruff delivery, limitless energy and uptempo tracks like "Shake Ya Ass" and "Danger (Been So Long)." The manic vigor remains—the rapper chose to conduct the interview standing up and every sentence, regardless of sentiment, ends on an exclamation point—but when Mystikal is released in August, he'll be ready to release music as a new member of Lil Wayne's Cash Money Records.
The relationship goes back to 2004, when Mystikal was on Jive Records and began a 6-year prison stint for sexual battery. "When I was on Jive, they were like, 'Man, when you gonna come over?' I got a chance to talk to [Cash Money co-founder] Birdman just prior to jail and said, 'Look, man. I'll be out in 24 [months] max. I thought I was gonna do 24 months. So holla at me, man, when I get back. Before I came home, I knew if I really wanted to make an impact, I had to be with them."
I ask what Cash Money can offer that other labels can't. "We're all experts in our craft," said Mystikal. "So let them be the businessmen. I let them do their part because apparently they know something I don't f**kin know [laughs]. When it comes time for me to do my part, I'll be there."
The first offering from "New Mystikal" is "Original," a collaborative track with Birdman and Lil Wayne that finds the 41-year-old's barking, intimidating delivery intact. "I came out the booth and said, 'This sounds singlish.' I don't know if that's a word, but it sounds singlish."
Mystikal featuring Birdman + Lil Wayne, "Original"
Mystikal's original prison sentence, which began in 2004 and ended with his release in 2010, means the rapper missed the rise of RapidShare, DatPiff, Twitter, hip hop blogs and other now-commonplace ways to deliver music. "For the past two years, I had my antenna and was still feeling my way around," admits the rapper. I'm curious what he thought was the biggest technological change since his release. "How we're sending music to each other via e-mail! You can e-mail me a fuckin' beat? That was STRAAANGE to me!"
When the rapper is released in August, he'll still have two years left on his probation. But he hopes to release a mixtape later this year and have a proper album out on Cash Money in early 2013. "I done recorded that b**ch twice already!," he says before bursting into laughter. "It's basically done. Baby's probably driving around with the Mystikal album as we speak."
For now, though, there's one last show to perform before returning to Louisiana. "I feel I'm in a spot that I've never been before and gotten opportunities far beyond what the f**k I've achieved previously. It's time to talk with my hands and feet now. 'Cause after all this shit right here…" He doesn't finish the sentence. But he doesn't have to. Whether you love or hate the rapper, in his mind, he's ready for his next chapter.