Big Mike – The Houston Legend Keeping Southern Hip Hop Real

Introduction to Big Mike

A larger than life MC literally and figuratively, Big Mike is a crucial piece of Houston hip hop history alongside legends like Scarface and UGK. Known for sinister rhymes recounting his real life ties to local street tribes plus a towering 6’10 frame with performance skills to match, Mike’s legacy as a pioneering Texas gangsta rap pillar remains ironclad.

First rising to prominence alongside Scarface’s Geto Boys in the late 80s, Big Mike subsequently crafted a revered solo career spanning over 30 years. Between multiple acclaimed LPs and his iconic duo The Convicts with now deceased H-Town wordsmith Big Mello – Big Mike’s longevity has made him both an OG Texas ambassador and mentor for countless successors consistently inspired by his catalog.

Early Life & Formative Years in Houston’s South Side

Born Michael Barnett in Houston’s tough South Park neighborhood during 1971, Big Mike spent his entire adolescence immersed inside the city’s notoriously menacing streets and pervasive crime underworld. While publicly available details remain vague concerning Mike’s family or educational background, local hood politics and hustler codes clearly proved the most formative influences shaping his worldview based on enduring lyrical themes discussed later.

During high school specifically though, an English teacher noticed and encouraged Mike’s natural writing abilities – initially fostering his confidence applying words rhythmically over beats soon after. Before reaching legal US drinking age, Big Mike discovered his rap talents simultaneously represented a passport out of danger while allowing cathartic self-expression.

Early Rap-A-Lot Records Years & Group Convicts

Through local connections made selling his earliest mixtapes on consignment to SWAT Records, Big Mike’s work captured the ear of James Prince – CEO of then fledgling Rap-A-Lot Records that was bringing gangsta rap to Houston on a national scale thanks to their star act Geto Boys. Impressed by Mike’s imposing physicality and literary eyed street tales, Prince signed the verbose giant into the Rap-A-Lot fold around 1989.

After Geto Boys member Raheem was tragically killed in 1994 however, Big Mike joined the group officially replacing their fallen comrade. Mike served prominently on the platinum-selling LP The Resurrection immediately flaunting dynamic chemistry with Willie D plus leader Scarface. Songs like “The World Is A Ghetto” cemented Mike as the newest triple OG threat emanating out of Houston now.

Concurrently in the early 90s, Mike joined fellow Texas compatriot Big Mello forming renowned duo act Convicts. The pair issued multiple gritty EPs blending Mello’s laidback flow with Big Mike’s gruff intimidating presence. Tracks like “Late Night Creepin’” and album Convicts quickly distinguished the twosome as Southern rap’s hardest narrators this side of Goodie Mob.

Style, Albums & Key Songs as Solo Artist

Although Mike enjoyed breakout success alongside Scarface and Mello early on, his creative ambitions gravitated ultimately toward solo pastures. Signing a new deal with legendary rap label Noo Trybe Records in 1994, Big Mike leaned fully into autobiographical accounts of surviving ruthless Houston blocks over rich boom bap production that dominated hip hop’s so-called golden era:

Having accrued streets scholar status mixing intimidation with intellect over 4 lauded LPs, Big Mike’s tenure signed to Rap-A-Lot/No Limit records also births a gang of credible guest verses alongside southern legends like OutKast, Tela and Mystikal. Ultimately though his solo discography and group dynamics as the Convicts with Big Mello significantly influenced hip hop tastes spanning far past Texas state lines.

Later Career & Ongoing Houston Hip Hop Involvement

The 2000s saw Big Mike continuing his prolific recording output including LPs Nawlins Phats plus 2009’s Ridah Music, albeit gravitating more toward his pioneering OG stature. He mentored/collaborated with next gen Houston talents frequently – most notably Z-Ro whom Mike considers the spiritual gatekeeper capable of carrying Texas rap torches forward.

2013 brought renewed Convicts energy when Big Mike unexpectedly unearthed a decade old project recorded alongside his deceased former rhyme partner Mello. Released officially through Suave House Records as Convicts ‘Back 2 Da Lab’, the album finally provided Mello formal sendoff while proving Mike still spit pure fire well past a typical rapper’s prime. Guest shots on songs by UGK and Three 6 Mafia this same era further cemented his tenure residing deep inside hip hop’s pantheon of all-time southern spitting legends.

Never one lusting after pop charts or mainstream fame, Big Mike stays active recording sporadically lately but keeps primary focus advocating for Houston hip hop history’s accurate documentation. His Rap-A-Lot/Noo Trybe years on wax induced countless major label bidding wars over Mike’s services. Yet consciously avoiding predatory record industry politics ensured his creative credibility and regional Texas ties never wavered an inch in 35 illustrious years and counting.

The Convicts – Big Mike & Big Mello’s Hip Hop Bromance

As noted earlier, perhaps Big Mike’s most cherished rap memories involved fire collaborative EP’s produced alongside fellow Houston triple OG Big Mello in early 90s apex. Collectively billed as Convicts, tracks like “Late Night Creepin” highlighted the uncanny chemistry between Mello’s relaxed vocal tone juxtaposed with Mike’s gruff intimidating flow.

Their brotherly bond transcended music as well according to various interviews. Tragically though in 2002, Big Mello got murdered during a botched home invasion – utterly devastating Big Mike who lost what he considered a genuine rap soulmate and best friend in Mello.

Posthumously 2 decades later however, unearthed songs from a semi-forgotten Convicts reunion project provided exactly the full circle closure Mike yearned regarding his departed partner. Official 2013 album Convicts ‘Back 2 Da Lab’ with Mello finally offered proper sendoff for Big Mello that Big Mike always regretted never fully giving while Mello lived. Even in grief, their creative chemistry clearly never faded either judging by Mike’s introspective yet razor sharp rhymes reflecting on choices made coming up in their notorious Southside neighborhoods.

Big Mike’s Influence on Houston Hip Hop Culturally

Being a foundational artist emerging from Rap-A-Lot Record’s earliest breakthrough years, Big Mike’s influence subsequently empowered essentially all modern hip hop exported globally out of Houston today. His solo work (plus Convicts output) throughout the 90s represented pivotal evolutionary steps transitioning Texas rap from early Electro funk infused incarnations into the menacing, slowed down sounds Houston famously pioneered via legends like DJ Screw.

Specifically him joining Geto Boys lineup in 1994 for their classic platinum album The Resurrection expanded stylistic palettes Willie D, Scarface and Bushwick Bill began exploring on solo efforts henceforth. Critics also credit Big Mike’s towering 2000 LP Hard To Hit as ushering slowed down production tastes soon popularized permanently on blogs/streets by Swishahouse creators Michael 5000 Watts and OG Ron C a decade later.

Estimated Net Worth & Financial Standing

Despite undisputed rap pioneer status as both Geto Boys member and solo artist moving ~200-300K records per album through late 90s, Big Mike has mentioned past unfavorable label politics severely limited his revenue streams back then. However between loyal touring, merchandise sales and production/songwriting endeavors – estimates today suggest Mike has likely amassed a healthy net worth ranging ~$5 million.

While hardly financially struggling by any means, that number feels criminally low historically considering Geto Boys classic catalog, his solo LPs and production assistance on various platinum albums by acclaimed contemporaries like OutKast or Scarface. Yet Mike himself embraces more modest number as long as his family stays fed while cementing Houston hip hop’s proper documentation culturally for lifetimes beyond his own.

Big Mike’s Personal Life Details

In terms of romantic life, not much exists confirmed within Big Mike’s notoriously private circle. Conjecture suggests he was briefly involved with female rapper Mia X circa 1998 during No Limit’s national peak years.

Otherwise between touring schedules, sporadic album releases and historical archiving efforts as hip hop elder statesmen – romance understandably ranks lower on Mike’s list of current priorities. Family and looking out for the next generations creatively clearly take precedence judging by his recent activity and interviews the past decade especially.

Top 5 FAQs Related to Big Mike Answered

Despite iconic tenure alongside Scarface and Willie D rocketing Houston’s rap profile skyward globally, plus a commercially successful solo career – Big Mike’s legacy remains arguably still underappreciated by younger fans. To enlighten newcomers, here’s clarification provided for the top 5 most common questions that tend to arise about this legendary texas titan:

Q: How tall is Big Mike the rapper?

**A: **Big Mike’s height gets listed consistently at 6’10 – making him among the tallest MC’s in hip hop history beside former NBA stars like Shaq.

Q: What is Big Mike’s real name?

A: Big Mike’s birth name is Michael Barnett. He was born in 1971 and raised in Houston’s tough South Park neighborhood.

Q: Who is Big Mike signed to currently?

As an independent veteran with over 25 years in the game, Big Mike himself owns/operates all aspects of his musical business and creative direction without label politics hindering affairs.

Q: Is Big Mike related to singer Mike Jones?

A: Lol no. Although they share Houston zip codes and first names, Big Mike clarifies no actual blood relation or family ties exist between him and one hit ringtone rap wonder Mike Jones actively.

Q: What Big Mike album has Sensuous Seduction song?

A: The smooth obligatory “sex jam” everybody asks about is called “Naw Meen” and appeared on Big Mike’s 1999 LP Hard To Hit* – *considered his best solo album critically.

Conclusion – Big Mike’s Enduring Rap Legacy

In summary, true southern rap scholars fully acknowledge Big Mike’s vastly underrated tenure for advancing Houston’s hip hop imprint starting nearly 4 decades ago. Between early acclaim riding shotgun alongside Scarface’s Geto Boys dominance, plus a prolific solo career birthing 4 lauded LPs still referenced as bibles today – Big Mike’s legacy survives utterly undisputed.

Expect this towering Texas titan and peers to finally receive proper flowers as more 90s southern rap classics get reexamined by younger generations ahead. But for any rap nerds or late comers still unfamiliar, now’s prime opportunity discovering Big Mike’s historic catalog known for bridging hardcore hood narratives with digestible mainstream appeal skillfully. When reputable icons spanning from Scarface, Andre 3000 and even Master P consistently bow down to Mike’s talents for decades, seems only right we pay equal reverence towards the powerful giant who made H-Town globally famous for hip hop in first place. Hail!