Screwston, Texas

'Who Is Mike Jones?' Is Ten Years Old, and We Owe Him An Apology

We owe Mike Jones an apology. A big apology. An apology so big that it wiggles out of its original form into tiny little strands to make a collage of apologies.

You see, this past April 19 was the tenth anniversary of his Who Is Mike Jones? album. The album that among the six or so from this city that permeated the rap landscape in 2005 that sold the most. Double platinum. Two million people bought in to Mike Jones enough to say, “Yes we’ll give you $13.99 for 15 tracks of new music from you.” Who Is Mike Jones? helped continue the catchphrase “281-330-8004." It's up there with "Industry Rule #4080," "Revolution No. 9" and "777-9311" in terms of greatest usage of numbers in music history.

It also gave us timeless church classics such as “Back Then” and “Flossin” and well, it at least told us when the album was coming. Yes, "Still Tippin'" is on the album even though it originally premiered on a 2004 Swishahouse tape, The Day Hell Broke Loose 2. Imagine being in 2015 and you constantly telling listeners that your debut album was coming soon. Imagine doing it for nearly three years on every song and freestyle you recorded and released. That’s what Mike Jones did.

I mean, do you even remember what Mike Jones looked like? He was a rapping Ninja Turtle; a platinum grill-wearing bowling ball of a man who could knock down a solid seven pins on initial contact. He single-handedly kept wearing a doo-rag in rap videos afloat as a serious thing. He's probably in the South wing of the Doo-Rag Hall of Fame.

Look, Who Is Mike Jones?

did take “Cutting” from 1st Round Draft Picks, his joint Swishahouse album with Magnificent, and completely removed Magno from the premises. It also did carry carousel Mr. Lee like production in “Screw Dat” and “Know What I’m Sayin’” on it that Paul Wall eventually did better for a lead single with “Sittin’ Sidewayz." That’s not really the point, though.

The major point? We utterly forgot that the album came out ten years ago. I mean, how exactly does that happen? How did we omit that Who Is… essentially showed Mike Jones at his best (catchy, memorable lines and choruses) and his faults (repetition, an insane level of rudimentary pitfalls, rap-wise) as an artist? I mean, any fan could have seen all of these things coming but Who Is… was a precursor to all of the ringtone-rap we were set to get in the next two years. “Back Then” was a MySpace profile-page staple. Bun B showed up and stomped a hole in the speaker (like he did for 365 days in 2005) on “Know What I’m Sayin’.” These things all happened!

How, in all of the Bruce Jenner getting interviewed by Diane Sawyer, the Rockets crushing the Mavericks in five games and Matt Barnes telling James Harden’s mother everything short of “hold my dick,” did we miss reflecting on an album that had Bun B, Big Moe, Killa Kyleon, Lil’ Keke, Paul Wall and Slim Thug on it all at once? Or that we would never, ever hear from guys like CJ & Lil’ Bran again? Or that on the ONE track for the ladies (Mike explicitly says so), Brighteyes shows up for a hook and disappears into a room like Judy Winslow from Family Matters?

How did we completely omit that Mike Jones responded to Chamillionaire’s utterly untouchable Mixtape Messiah disc with King of the Streets in 2004? How did we forget that Magnificent really rode a great lispy flow on “Day 2 Day Grinding,” which is really remembered for Chamillionaire’s chorus? How, in the hell, did we forget that Mike Jones was once happy about getting “Still Tippin” on BET Uncut? Better yet, how in the world did we underrate Magnificent to the point that people wish it were him who blew up and not Mike Jones?

Do you realize how insane that time period was? It’s a case study in knowing how long runs in rap are quite short. Snoop Dogg and Jay Z having been relevant for varying points in the last three decades is simply amazing. Mike Jones had four years. 2004 was when he officially bubbled to the top of the Swishahouse hierarchy for freestyle tapes. 2005 was when he released Who Is… 2006 saw him hopping on remixes from Lil Jon, Pitbull and more. 2007 was him releasing Mr. Jones and having a guest appearance on the Fox show Prison Break that lasted for four seasons. Prison Break! That was a show where Wentworth Miller tattooed an entire prison map on his back and we loved it! Then Lil Wayne went and took “Mr. Jones” for “Sky’s the Limit” and the slow descent into obscurity, jokes and punches by Trae Tha Truth began.

Blame Lil Wayne for the end of Mike Jones being relevant. OK, maybe not completely blame him for such things but you catch my drift. Mike Jones owned a club on Tanglewilde called Club Ice Age. It was the hottest place to be on a Sunday night for a little period from 2006 to 2007. He even had a label called Ice Age Entertainment. This all happened, within a four year period.

Who Is Mike Jones? happened on April 19, 2005. We owe Mike Jones an apology for not getting him an official day to celebrate such a feat.

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Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell