Big B got a little help from his friends when he made the video for “Down” — premiering exclusively on Billboard below from Welcome to the Club, the California rapper’s upcoming album with his new project the Felons Club.
Filmed at the Maverick Saloon in Santa Ynez, Calif., and directed by Johnny Laney, the clip depicts a spirited jam with Big B (aka Brian Mahoney) trading verses with Johnny Cash tribute act Cash’d Out, while P!nk tends bar (and flips the bird) and her husband Carey Hart does shots with the rapper.
“Carey’s one of my best friends; I’m closer to him than some of my own family members,” Big B, who met Hart while working on Indian Motorcycles and was a groomsman at his wedding to P!nk, tells Billboard. “They live right down the road; they actually talked me into moving up this way. So we’re all just good friends and it was pretty easy to get ’em to come and be part of it.”
That was the case for the entire video, in fact. The crowd is comprised of Big B’s friends, and the whole affair cost just $1,600 — $400 of it for alcohol. “It was just a big party,” Big B recalls. “I teamed up with Doug Benson [of Cash’d Out] for the song — I hunted him down to do it. And it came out really cool. The way he does it is how I would’ve loved to sing that song, if I sang.”
“Down” provides a calling card for Welcome to the Club — due June 19 via Regime Music Group — whose country and Americana tone represents a stylistic shift for Big B. Produced by Michael Bradford (Madonna, Uncle Kracker, Deep Purple), Big B — who’s previously collaborated with Scott Russo from Unwritten Law, DJ Lethal and Everlast (who guests on Welcome to the Bar) — considers the album a natural progression from the hip-hop, rock and reggae he’s explored on his previous albums.
“I’ve been all over the place, but I’ve never done anything like this,” the Las Vegas-raised MC acknowledges. “I grew up listening to [country music]. I have tons of albums. I knew I couldn’t make country [music], per se, but I wanted to take a crack at it. I knew I had it in me. I’m an adult now, a grown man; I can’t be making kids music anymore.”
Bradford, who met Big B through Dave Kaplan at Surfdog Records, says what attracted him to the project was the rapper’s writing. “Songs just fall out of him,” Bradford explains. “What I liked about him is everything had a good hook, a good chorus. A lot of people come up with great riffs for a great drumbeat; he comes up with a great chorus. And he has a knack for those catchy phrases. He’s just a natural. It makes the job of a co-writer or a co-producer easier.”
The Felons Club moniker, meanwhile, brands Big B’s new approach and also nods to his motorcycle-building roots as well as an actual Felons Club in Belfast. “I myself am not a felon — but I came close,” he says. “I come from a real motorcycle club kind of background, and I always liked old-school outlaw country type of stuff. I wanted to do fun, kind of biker type of music. That’s how [the Felons Club] came about.” And after taking some time off and thinking he might be done with music entirely, Big B is happy to have found a way to pique his interest again.
“I think this is definitely a reboot,” says Big B, whose parents gave him his nickname as a child. “I don’t know where it’s gonna go or what’s going to happen, but at the end of the day, when you look up the archive of the work you put out, the best part is it’s going to be another chapter, something new and refreshing. It could always fall on its face and not do anything, but it’ll still be cool when I’m an old man to pull out some of the songs and say, ‘Yeah, I did that too.'”
The video for “Down” is below.