New York The only ordinary thing about Mike Jones is his name.
Thanks to innovative marketing schemes like making his personal phone number public and saying his name as often as possible, the Houston rapper has managed to shoehorn his "Still Tippin'" single into heavy rotation nationwide. Now comes his debut album, "Who Is Mike Jones?", which promises to spread his Texas drawl even further. He spoke with The Associated Press about phone bills, soap operas and grandmas.
Q: Mike Jones is a pretty common name. Has anyone ever confused you with another Michael Jones?
A: A lot of people started booking fake Mike Jones shows. There was a rapper saying he was Mike Jones; he went to a radio station and told everybody in New Orleans he was gonna come to their show. They pump it up; he steps on stage singing, "Who? Mike Jones." And (the audience) was like, "That ain't Mike Jones!" People was throwin' stuff at him.
Q: Did you ever try to investigate him?
A: Nah, it ain't even that crucial. His embarrassment was worth millions to me. So I had to give out my number so people could call me (about shows) so I can tell them if I'ma be there or not.
Q: Your phone bill must be crazy!
A: I had the crazy cell bill. Now it ain't nothing but $150 a month. I had a (281) 455-1858 number, but Cingular was charging me like a $1,000 phone bill every month. I left them and got another company. And now the phone number blew up so big, I got all different phone companies wanting to sign me to promote their phone.
Q: Now the world knows your cell number along with your first and last name. You might as well just give out your middle name too.
A: Oh, I can't let the world know that one. (Laughs.) See my mom gave me the Mike Jones and my grandma gave me that middle name. She got it from some (TV) show. I'm like, "Man, I ain't tellin' nobody that name."
Q: But your grandmother was the one who also told you to use "Mike Jones" as your stage name. What else did she tell you?
A: My grandma, Elsia Mae Jones, is the main reason I'm doing what I'm doing now. Her main things was to treat people how I like to be treated. I listened to everything; I didn't always agree, but I listened. Now I'm thinking, "Damn, I wish I would've blown up sooner to where whatever the illness was I could've fixed it. She just passed almost 2 years ago.
Q: Some say when a close family member passes they come to you in a dream. Has that happened to you?
A: Yeah, it's scary man. Like she'll just be sitting up smiling and some dreams she's just looking. It only happened once. One time I was listening to the song I made for my grandma, called 'My grandma.' It was very touching, and after I laid it I was crying. I have a tattoo that covers my whole left arm with a picture of my grandma and a picture of my cousin in jail. And I know all the money in the world can't bring her back.
Q: Sounds like you were a grandmama's boy.
A: Yeah, I was. I used to always stay home with her. So when I couldn't go outside she had me sitting there watching those stories, like "One Life to Live," "Guiding Light," "Young and the Restless." It came to a point where after I was on punishment, I'd tell my friends, "Hey I'ma (meet) y'all at 2," so I could watch the soap. And pretty soon I'd start askin' about what happened.
Q: You still watch the stories?
A: I've been too busy.
Q: But if you weren't, would you?
A: Yeah. I mean, I don't know. I can't really say. It was something my grandmama used to really watch. Men don't watch that stuff, but she had the alarm clock up so you could watch every episode. And now it went from that to (me watching) 'The Wire,' which is like a soap opera, and 'The Pretender.' It's all the same thing.
Q: Your grandma would be proud.
A: Out of ten people, my grandmother was the only one who said I could do (this rap thing). I went against all nine and went with her. And I'm glad I did.