15 Years Ago, Mystikal Told Us To Bounce Back Up When Knocked Down (Video)

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Fifteen years ago this Sunday (December 18), New Orleans, Louisiana native Mystikal dropped Tarantula, his fifth and final studio album to date. Its lead single, “Bouncin’ Back (Bumpin’ Me Against The Wall),” is like an early-2000s time capsule, from Mystikal’s erratic flow to the track’s bouncy Neptunes beat. It was the tail end of the “shiny suit” era and mainstream Hip-Hop, not unlike the country at large, was at a crossroads. With the unprecedented commercial success of once-underground artists like Eminem, and others like Mos Def and Talib Kweli breaking through, Hip-Hop’s popular aesthetic was just beginning to move away from the gaudy symbolism of newfound affluence that dominated the late ’90s and early ’00s. Mystikal, who was front and center with the No Limit Records run several years earlier, had found a new sonic pocket. ‘Kal never tucked back his boisterous delivery, but found a groove while back on his own (as he’d started in 1995). One can just as clearly hear the connection to an Outkast as they can a C-Murder or Mia X.

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Arguably one of Hip-Hop’s most polarized epochs, “Bouncin’ Back” is certainly indicative of this transitional period — paradoxically addressing serious content like battling one’s demons, paranoid behavior and bio-terrorism over fun, funky, synthesized horn-driven production. Even the video is somewhat oxymoronic depicting its setting, a mental institution, in the colorful, stylized, almost cartoony manner popular of the time (D12, Redman, Missy Elliott). Released only a few months in the wake of September 11, the song and video even reference the subsequent anthrax attacks that occurred shortly after, for example: “They started some trouble and you ain’t been out since / ’Cause you stuck inside scared watchin’ CNN / Just take the precaution so your life’ll be better / Tell my friends to call me, I ain’t acceptin’ no letters!

Regardless of its juxtapositional nature, the song delivers a clear and timeless message about maintaining resilience in the face of adversity: “Sometimes you gotta get knocked down to get up!

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Now said to be with YMCMB (who is having its own internal transitions), one can hope that like former label-mate A Tribe Called Quest, the wait is worth it.