Interview: Mike Epps
Mon, 19 Oct 2009 07:48:29
Making people laugh is Mike Epps' [music page] business, and business is good...
The comedian has had quite a year. Not only did he star in the biggest R-Rated comedy of all time, The Hangover, but he recorded the funniest comedy album of the past decade—Funny Bidness...Da Album. On Funny Bidness, Mike takes what Chris Rock did on Bigger and Blacker to a new level by adding a rugged Richard Pryor-style edge. From wannabe gangstas to psycho ex-girlfriends, Mike's songs take listeners on a hilarious ride. Boasting appearances by Flo Rida, Too Short, Snoop Dogg, Funny Bidness also could make any club pop off.
Due out via E1 Entertainment on October 27, 2009, Funny Bidness - Da Album is a comedy revolution in the making.
Mike Epps kicked it with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino. In this exclusive interview, he talked about making a cinematic album, the method behind his comedy madness and why no one can hurt you when you just don't care.
How did the initial concept for Funny Bidness (Da Album) come about?
A lot of it is humor that I've absorbed from my own life. It's just one of those albums that's meant to entertain people. I get most of the humor from shit that happened to me or shit that I thought of when I was sitting around with my boys. We'll think of something and then make a song or skit out of it. We're just trying to keep it cool.
So the whole process was really natural for you?
It really was!
The intro interview sets the entire tone for the album.
[Laughs] It does! When the girl's asking me the questions, I tell her I've got student loans and all this shit, and that's the reason I did the album [Laughs]. I tell her I got debt with Rent-A-Center [Laughs]. It's kind of hard for somebody to judge me after I say that on the opening track. I basically tell her that I don't give a fuck what anyone thinks—so what? It's hard to judge or hurt somebody when they don't give a fuck.
That's the entire spirit of the album! Do you feel like it's a particularly personal project?
I do. It is personal, and I think people will feel it. Not only am I being funny, but I'm saying some things that people can relate to, too.
The little details really bring the listener back again and again. On "Trying to Be a Gangsta," it's hilarious when you ask, "How can you be a gangsta when you wear a seatbelt?"
[Laughs] Yeah, man! I'm really glad you enjoyed it. It took me five years to do this album—five fucking years, bro.
Why did it take so long?
Because I didn't want to play myself, you know what I mean? I didn't want to put myself in a position where it looked like I was doing that either. I wanted to make the album look like I was just having fun, and it came off that way. When I first originally started, I was actually rapping.
On the final product, you're singing. There's a comic delivery like when you're doing stand-up.
When I first went to do this, it was like a real rap album, and I was like, "No, that ain't going to work. I can't do a real rap album like that."
Well, you made something completely different. Funny Bidness is its own animal.
I'm the first comedian to ever make an album like this. There are songs in rotation. Jamie Foxx sings, but he doesn't do it with a comedy twist.
Did you want each song to tell a clear, unequivocal story?
Right! That was my whole main purpose.
Funny Bidness brings people to the hood, the hotels and even Indiana within those stories.
It does! I didn't want the record to look like it was one thing.
It's more like a movie in some ways. There's continuity from start to finish. Did you have a script in mind or was it freestyled in the studio?
I'm glad that you said that. I really am. It was all pieced together in the studio. I get funnier shit that way. If I tried to write it all out as a script, I'd be thinking too much.
So it's more likely to happen when you're kicking it with your friends and you come up with these lines here and there and build the puzzle that way…
That's how I like to do it! You're hitting it right on the knob! Shit, you should be my manager [Laughs].
Are you constantly writing funny ideas down?
Yup! I used to just let it go, but now if hear or see something funny, I write it down. I did so many songs when I was recording that I've got a second album ready now. I'm going to give it some time though. It'll maybe come out two years from now. You'd be surprised at what I pick up between now and then too.
How do you choose material for your album versus stand-up? Is there a certain filter?
I've got my own little radar going on that tells me not to do it—Don't use this, don't use that. I get opinions from different people too.
Is comedy scientific in a sense? You mix different jokes like chemicals to get the right formula.
That's real talk [Laughs]. There's so much truth to that. I've always felt that way because comedy can be very extreme, and you have to find that balance. You never know what's going to make someone laugh.
How was your experience working with Snoop Dogg on "Domestic Dispute?"
Snoop was real cool. He's the uncle [Laughs]. I was so thrilled to have him on there. He's the baddest—like the George Clinton of this shit. His swag is crazy!
Was the story behind "I Love Da Hoes?"
I really love the hoes, you know what I mean?
With Funny Bidness, you cover so many different facets of comedy. If someone can't laugh at this, they're pretty much an asshole.
[Laughs] I made it for some people. Some people are going to enjoy it, and some people are not going to think it's good. For the most part, it's funny.