Special to the Journal
“I’m a survivor, as far as all the stuff I overcame, as far as being on a major label and then being dropped — and still rapping. As far as going to prison and coming back, and my music sounding better than I did before I went in …” – Bernaird “Big Nod” Mayberry
Though he got his start in 1998 as a member of a Billboard charting rap group called Suthern Klick, rapper and emcee Bernaird “Big Nod” Mayberry has been a solo recording artist for more than eight years, proving his staying power.
But it has been more than three years since the Monroe High School graduate and Albany resident has played before a home crowd.
That will change on Friday when he performs a New Year’s Eve concert at the House of Jazz at 730 W. Highland Ave. Admission is $10; doors open at 2 p.m.
Mayberry’s latest album, GRIND MODE, personifies his mission to achieve greatness as an emcee and reap monetarily in the rap game.
“I’m always in grind mode. I’m always trying to think of ways to get some money and make myself successful,” he said. Delivering a mixture of rhyme styles accented by his warm, Southern cadence, he reminds listeners of Kanye West’s lyrical dexterity and wordplay, and MJG’s rawness.
Mayberry’s decision to rap came from a mixture of epiphany and male ego. Outside a Pete Rock & CL Smooth concert, he overheard guys trading battle raps and smirked. “I can rap better than that,” he thought, and went home to write rhymes to instrumentals.
Where Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s concert was a conduit to the art form, it was Outkast and Goodie Mob who showed Mayberry substance. During a time when MC hopefuls adapted closely to the East Coast’s style, Mayberry related to Outkast and Goodie Mob, eccentric but wise-sounding cats from Atlanta, GA with deep Southern accents.
“They kinda made me find myself, as far as what to rap about,” said Mayberry. “Them dudes rappin’ about their mamas and stuff going on in their neighborhoods.”
Mayberry has faced a lot of adversity, including run-ins with the law.
“I’m a survivor, as far as all the stuff I overcame, as far as being on a major label and then being dropped — and still rapping,” he said. “As far as going to prison and coming back, and my music sounding better than I did before I went in …”
By the late-90s, independent rap labels like No Limit and Suave House proved to be lucrative and self-sufficient. Suthern Klick (sometimes seen misspelled as “Southern Click”) started out on Southern Records, an independent rap label in Albany owned by Tony “Montana” Mosley. Through a presentation from manager and songwriter, Sid “Uncle Jamz” Johnson, MCA/Universal signed the label in 1998 along with its artists, Suthern Klick and Field Mob.
For Mayberry, opening shows for Cash Money Millionaires in packed arenas was exciting and surreal. However, one experience in Dayton, Ohio was a cultural shock. The audience threw coins onstage at the group — and the headlining acts, too — which made the neophyte act think the crowd hated their music. As their manager came to learn, throwing loose change onstage meant endearment, at least in Dayton. The group spawned one Billboard Top 40 hit, “Like Dat” in late 1998, sharing the charts with Eminem, Nas and Foxy Brown.
In 2000, MCA/Universal dropped Suthern Klick and kept Field Mob on the label. Mayberry and another member of Suthern Klick, Ole-E (now his label-mate on Dirty South Entertainment) kept writing and producing music. Cooking up a formula of club tracks and good ol’ bass-dipping car music that people love, Mayberry began to build a heavy impact in the South and Midwest on mixtapes. He was also featured on Trillville and Lil’ Scrappy’s, “Diamonds in My Pinky Ring” and Field Mob’s, “Hey Shawty.”
Today, Mayberry shows no sign of stopping. Working with a collage of esteemed industry professionals such as songwriter, G. La Beaud (who penned songs for Diane Warren, Mary J. Blige, The O’Jays and Gerald LeVert), beatmakers Sherm and Skeet; and producers Uncle Jamz and The La Beaud Boys, Mayberry expects GRIND MODE, produced by Dirty South Entertainment, to be his best work ever. It features the hit single, “Top Model” produced by Blak & L. Wattz, and his personal anthem, “I’ll Never Change,” produced by T.C.
The self-proclaimed “Come Up Man” has not performed in Albany because of his extensive touring schedule.
“It feels great,” he replied when he was asked about performing in his hometown. “I’m going to take the crowd on a ride. Giving them something to remember”.
The show is being promoted by Platinum Sound Recording Studio and Mainlyne Entertainment.
“This is an event you don’t want to miss,” said Platinum South owner Mario Meadows. “Everyone in the city who’s into hiphop knows a Big Nod song, come out and support us for the New Year. Our plan is to bring more jobs and revenue to the city. This is one outlet, we can’t do it without you.”