Whether as Big V, his musical stage name, or Vito, his birth name used on movie sets, expect to see a lot of Vito “Big V” Tisdale, formerly of Kentucky-based Nappy Roots.
He is currently balancing the pursuit of a solo career while handling movie scripts. The musician and actor continues to spread his wings, tackling both occupations and using his time to live life and raise his kids since the COVID lockdown.
Back on the road and performing, Big V called on one of music’s most underrated gems, Urban Mystic, for his new single, “All On Me,” which will be released soon. V has also replaced a wild afro for a shiny bald head, but the deep, raspy voice that he is known for is still prevalent.
Zenger spoke with Big V, who compared Nappy Roots to The Temptations, highlights Urban Mystic’s talents, and much more.
Percy Crawford interviewed Vito “Big V” Tisdale for Zenger.
Zenger: You have been very busy. How is everything going?
Big V: Life is life! Life during COVID makes you realize what you got is what you got. Work it. I’m raising my kids, dropping a new record and just ready to get it.
Zenger: You are back on the road, booking shows and entertaining crowds. I’m sure that has been therapeutic for you.
Big V: You realize what the world means to you and what you mean to the world. You realize that people don’t have much time in this life, so you better start living and enjoying. Stop remembering pain. Start remembering the memories and have fun and create some more if you ain’t have enough. That’s what I’m back doing.
Zenger: You were recently on a film set of “Black And Blue Tears!” Continuously expanding the brand, I see.
Big V: This is my fourth film since COVID. I’ve always been an actor. In high school and out of college, I was drama and theater. I just never had the avenues in Nappy Roots. Everybody just wanted music, and I never got into Vito [Tisdale]. After COVID really hit, I decided to lose 40 pounds, get back daddy built and really get with a voice that I kept hearing — “Where Were You,” by Urban Mystic. I was like, man… Lionel Richie, K-Ci Hailey and Anthony Hamilton all in one. Me being King of Hick-Hop, that country sound right after Nelly, that whole country movement. He had the sound Lionel Richie had with The Commodores; it was just time to bring that back.
Zenger: Urban Mystic is one of my favorite artists, definitely one of the most under-appreciated talents out there.
Big V: Oh my my, this boy a superstar, man. I said, I wouldn’t mind reintroducing myself as people know me, with another singer. This guy is a star in his own right. I hope he bless me. I’m back at home with my own production team now, with the acting, I have acted as a grandfather, I have acted as a gangster in “45 Seconds,” and that was a pretty good cast.
I felt like it was time to put some soul in these scripts. I have my own beat time back at the house, Kyng Of Da Beatz, shout out to Ralph [Mumford], J [Mel], Pat [Solomon], the whole family. I know I missed somebody, but y’all know I smoke. Just moving around, being on the music scene got me ready for the music.
Zenger: You still provide music with a message. “One Blunt” is deep and requires a level of intellect to follow. We don’t get that on a consistent basis these days.
Big V: I like to look at myself as a last hard-copy artist. I come from a time with no pro tools, CDs, I had a tape out. When you were an Atlantic [Records} artist and training to be that guy, you always stay true to yourself within your training. No matter how sounds change. I would talk to Busta [Rhymes] or Twista, and guys who came before me, and they were like, “Man, this is a rollercoaster. Be true to yourself.”
I watched it happen in front of my face when he (Twista) ran into Kanye [West]. Kanye reintroduced him on “Slow Jamz.” I have always been a conscious rapper. Just being in reality is what Nappy Roots was based on. Me being the big voice in that, and the songwriter for “Awnaw” and “Po’ Folks,” the bigger records that really had my influence as far as working class.
My mom twisted tobacco and my daddy was a garbage man, and I learned to count from a man in a wheelchair, so all the stories are just forever. All I know is a life of reality. My son is a [University of] Kentucky Wildcat. We kept it home when he was recruited by the big boys. We appreciate life, living and enjoying what we know.
Zenger: Ask your son why they had to do that to my LSU Tigers last Saturday (laughing). [Kentucky’s football team beat LSU 42-21 on Oct. 9.]
Big V: (Laughing). You know SEC football. You already know how the tailgate was. I wore a loose shirt. Y’all got a down year, and we wanted to let ya’ll know it.
Zenger: You’re talking about keeping it at home, but I didn’t know rap music existed in Kentucky until Nappy Roots introduced me to it. That had to feel good to make that history happen being from a place not known for that type of content.
Big V: Yeah! I think if you’re a big game hunter, you know how the game hunters fly into a distant place where there is no road, there is no traffic or anything. You can find the biggest beast in the woods. When they figured out it was magic in St. Louis, and Nelly came out with, “Country Grammar,” to be the next phone call or the next ship out, you ask the A&R, “How did you find these boys? Why you signed these boys?”
Back then it was off the pure notion that they are going to be great or they not, off of somebody else’s word. Mike Caren said, “I heard a song by some songwriter that said, ridin’ on these country roads, I don’t know where to go, but I’m gonna ride… I gotsta ride these country roads.” He walked in the room, and he said, “Who wrote that?” I spit on the floor.
So, not to have a Dr. Dre or some big producer find us. To know that you swung that blow to get them right here, and to talk your craft over and over like Daniel-San and Mr. Miyagi [from “The Karate Kid” movies of the 1980s], and to still be relevant today, is like watching Aretha Franklin sing at the inauguration. Those other stars was out there when [Barack] Obama got into office, but they brought out the big fish. That old sewing machine that didn’t need pro tools.
Zenger: When can we expect the project with Urban Mystic and is this one feature or a collaborative album?
Big V: We are both independent and the sky is the view — it ain’t the limit. The single, “All On Me,” is done. We shot a piece of the video in Birmingham, [Alabama]. Shout out to Eugene’s Hot Chicken there. I can go down there just to eat (laughing).
We got this album, we got some ideas, and we both doing day parties and moving around and grinding. Right now, it’s just the single. We’re looking forward to making it do other situations. Within the next few weeks we will both have an EP ready. The single “All On Me,” will be printed up in a week or so. Urb is doing his thing. If you grew up in the ’80s it feels like Magic [Johnson] throwing it to [James] Worthy.
If you grew up in the ’90s, it feel like [Michael] Jordan just faded away against Isiah [Thomas] with Vinnie [Johnson] chasing him. If you’re a 2000 cat, The Mamba [Kobe Bryant]. It feels good, man. The song is like, “OK, I remember that feel.” Musiq Soulchild and Black Thought, 8Ball & MJG, that combination. Just to have that and to have some guys interested in moving it this way and moving it that way feels good. And it feels good to be back working at your craft. Shout out to Skinny [Deville] and the others, they still doing their thing with Nappy Roots. If you watch The Temptations, Skinny and Scales are like “Blue” [Melvin Franklin] and Otis [Williams], and here comes ole’ David Ruffin.
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff
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