Big B, aka Bryan David Mahoney, is a man of puzzling contradictions. He’s white, as all three of his real names suggest, but his main musical influences are reggae and rap. On his upcoming album he complains about our lazy, video-game-addicted fast food nation in spite of being 330 lbs. with a tattoo of the grease-chain icon Big Boy–burger in hand–inked on his belly. In an interview with Vegas radio station X107.5 Big B claims that post-911 America rejected his old band 187, and yet, I’m almost positive he has nothing to do with Al-Qaeda. Sounds like an excuse to me, Big B. You’re a hard one to pin down.
You might recognize Big B as a cast member of A&E’s Inked, one of his side jobs. He also paints cars. All of the glitz and colors that would naturally pour from someone covered in tattoos who paints vehicles on the side as he struts down the glittering Sin City Strip come out on his upcoming record, “Fool’s Gold,” a rap/rock/reggae product that sounds like a hybrid of 311, ICP, and LFO. Although I guess I’d classify him as a rapper if I was forced to pick a title, Big B never quite raps, or sings, or rock and roll yells: the lyrics are delivered in a sort of lazy, angry growl. But not actually angry, it’s more like an exuberant guy at a college party who is fake-angry for fun.
Album collaborators include Pink, Butch Walker, Slightly Stoopid, the Dirty Heads, country artist Colt Ford, and members of NOFX and Pennywise. Penny-wise the album’s producers must have been stocked: the sound is very tight, polished and professional and the invisible players behind the curtain sitting in and guest semi-stars alike play nicely together. Here and there throughout “Fool’s Gold” you’ll hear chord changes strangely reminiscent of the Beatles, sunny Kinks nods and Beach Boys turnarounds—unexpected and welcome additions.
The songs have a lot of variety to them, designed with all audiences in mind, as long as those audiences are drinking and under thirty-five. Hip hop beats and scratches meet acoustic and electric guitar hooks. Pop choruses meet pop rap mixed with radio friendly alt-rock. At times the beats and melodies are catchy in a lighthearted, summery kind of way. Riding on a boat on a lake in a small town drinking very cheap beer music, appropriately placed on said background seafaring set list in between Jimmy Buffett, Kid Rock and Afro Man. Other times the mood goes deep and introspective. Those with ink in their skin and thug in their souls gaze out their windows and think about the state of the world too, people.
If you, like Big B, have a dinner plate sized logo of an automobile manufacturer tattooed on your belly (in Big B’s case, Cadillac, but any make will do) this record might be for you. Or, if like Big B, you consider yourself “High Class White Trash,” an older album title of his, you just need to wait about a month. If you want help knowing how long that is, start counting the daily empty Busch cases you throw in your front yard: once there are thirty more out there than when you started counting, you’re golden to go snag Big B’s new album, out on Surburban Noize Records, and have yourself a Rasta-tinged, punk speckled, pop sprinkled, hootenanny of a bumpin’ party.