Fresh off a trip down south to Austin, Texas, 29-year-old rapper George Purnell, aka Go Phigga, of Bottom Coast Ent/Numb3rs Committee, was still in rare form as we began our interview. Turned up and passionate about music and the mark he plans to make on it, he left no stones unturned when speaking about his experiences, influences and perceptions of the music business.
"I've dropped 3 albums already – "4ever Motivated," "M.S.O.M.1" and "M.S.O.M.1.5" – but most recently I just finished performing this past weekend at the annual South By Southwest (SXSW) Music, Art and Film Festival in Austin, Texas," said Go Phigga, clearly excited about the annual Spring Break festival that he recognizes as one of the biggest in the music game.
"I have performed at this event for like the last three or four years and I truly enjoy it and the fans because every year is different. The fans really get a chance to see you up close and personal and take pictures with you and ask you about your music. Then also there are countless mega-artists there. Like this year you had artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Slim Thugg, Bun B., Face Mobb, Big Sean, Future, Tech 9, Nas, etc. So yes, it was really nice."
Impressed by the lineup of legends and present-day go-getters, I wanted to know what songs he performed.
"I actually performed four different shows, which lasted about 15 minutes or more a piece. So I was able to perform a couple of my songs that are on the radio now getting some real heavy spins and a couple of more that are gaining momentum. I performed "Grippin Grain," "Ray Allen," "Heavy Tenant," "The Intro" and "Gold Around My neck."
I'd listened to "Grippin Grain," taking note of how he captured that Houston-area sound without being from there.
"True, but I have been influenced by so many down-south rappers and Pimp C, who you hear on the hook, was one of those rappers who I grew up on. UGK, which was him and Bun B. Then at the same time I admired Eight Ball and MJG, Big Mike, Tela and Mystical," he said.
"Naturally my sound would reflect my influences, while my writing, delivery and concepts are all mine. So right now I'm going hard making music for the third coast, that's Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama."
I knew that Go Phigga was a 2004 graduate of Tupelo High School, and wanted to know more, probing for the root's of his inspiration and the obvious wealth of maturity behind his tone of speech.
"I grew up the youngest child, as I have seven older brother's and sister's, and we had parent's that have always been workers and have always given all that they have for the betterment of their children," he said.
" That example that they set is instilled in all of us, not just me. Most notably, I have a brother, Desmond Purnell, former Mississippi State University football player, who is an analyst for the NFL Network. Then there were other influences, like when I reflect back on singing in the choir at my high school. It was there that I got the rhythm of music and it's been in my heart ever since."
The reference to heart registered with me. It's kind of hard to find it in music nowadays Heart, a message to the consciousness of the fans, and truth are becoming a foreign language behind the microphone. All styles of music have their place, yet we seem to be inundated in hip-hop music with shaking our butts and walking straight into jail, early pregnancy and this large grey area where we can't separate entertainment or reality.
Go Phigga took in my stream-of-consciousness flow.
"Truth," he said, "and I'm not a big fan of modern radio. I don't think radio plays a lot of the songs that the fans want to hear. For me as an artist, does that mean I should change my style of writing? No, of course not. I have to stay true to my craft. They don't cater to up and coming artist and I'm not going to cater to them.
"I actually do business with this group called Numb3rs Committee and we just hold one another up by doing shows together and performing on each other songs for free," he said. "Not to mention that we often end up booked for the same shows. We network and vibe with each other just like that. We grind and hope for the best without selling out our craft for mainstream. Mainstream has its place and it will come. "
I could feel that, pivoting to ask, "If you had a chance to marry music, how would you propose to her?"
Go Phigga: She's a her?
Music is definitely a her, I shot back.
"Well, I'd take her to Kemah, Texas over to the Boardwalk and I'd throw on (the) Jagged Edge song 'Let's get Married' in the background. As we held hands on a summer afternoon and watched the sun walk across the water, I'd let her know I'm done messing around and kneel on one knee and say those magic words. And the rest would be history."
That's dope son, I said, laughing out loud. "And what's your favorite fruit?"
"Pineapples," he said.
Next up for Go Phigga:
• "SpringBoard" in Houston – June 2014.
• "A3C," aka All Three Coast, in Atlanta – October 2014.
• For shows and updates: gophiggamusic.blogspot.com.
• Follow him on Twitter: @gophigga; Instagram: gophigga662.