Def Jam Newcomer Big Bank Black Shows ‘Alter Ego’

Atlanta rapper Big Bank Black knows what it’s like to struggle. But thanks to his first big single, “Try It Out,” featuring Kandi Burruss, he’s finally resting easy.

Black is one of Def Jam’s latest breakout stars making a name for himself after linking up with the Burruss following a close friendship with the former Xscape singer’s ex-fiancée, A.J. Jewell.

“I’ve known Kandi as long as she’s been dealing with A.J.,” Black, CEO of Duct Tape Entertainment, tells VIBE. “[A.J. was] like my brother. I met Kandi around the first time they started talking, around 2008. Me and A.J. used to be around each other everyday. When he and Kandi initially started hooking up, like they was gon’ be a couple, I started being around them more just kicking it. And I never before rapped, so when I was in the booth playing around, she was like, ‘You ain’t about to rap!’” he recalls.

But Black did just that. “Try It Out” was initially a solo effort. “Everybody in the streets was liking it,” he says. “But it was short because I had only put one verse and two hooks on there and the bridge. So my business partner was like, ‘We need to put a female on there.’”

Black called on Burruss, who happily lent her vocals to the Zaytoven-produced track. With the song making noise locally, the rapper is now preparing to drop his debut, Alter Ego. The album’s artwork will be the work of famed Atlanta photographer Derek Blanks, whose known for his “alter-ego” photo shoots.

“I’m going to talk about the streets, the club,” Black says of Ego. “I’m a Gemini; I’m a wishy-washy person. So I just called it Alter Ego ’cause I’m gon’ show both sides of me.”

Prior to the album, Black plans to drop a mixtape, The Birth of Big Bank Black, hosted by Bigga Rankin, by the end of the month.

“I got a lot of feature artists on there, all the artists off my label: Rocko, Gucci [Mane], Kandi, Maino, B.G.—people that I respect in the game, I reached out to them,” he says. “This ain’t got nothing to do with the label, or none of that. Everything that we’re doing is our own grind.” —Linda Hobbs