Editor's note: This Q&A previews Jimmy Hooligan's CD release with Noizewave, Big Mista, Holla K, Psych B, and Baggiez with Skullz at The Waiting Room Lounge. The Friday, Sept. 2 concert begins at 9 p.m. and costs $8.
by Bryce Wergin
Lyrics about whacking people in the head with fly swatters, running around naked with a machete, putting boogers in food at Dairy Queen, and hanging out in the kitchen wearing nothing but tube socks are the top results you'll see if you Google Omaha hip-hop MC Jimmy Hooligan's name. This is why his calm and well-spoken voice throws me for a second when he answers the phone. He takes a seat at his Omaha home, having just arrived after a day at work, and starts to recount his story in hip-hop — where he came from, his experiences writing and recording music, and what's coming up. Through his accounts and opinions, he makes clear his belief that hip-hop is all about passion for what you're doing and having fun, not self-absorption.
Hooligan drops his fourth full-length studio album, M.O. Strikes Back!, Friday, Sept. 2 at The Waiting Room. Omaha producer Aaron Gum recorded the album, which features appearances from Bizarre of D12, Orenda Fink of Azure Ray, A.P. and even a video cameo from Snoop Dogg. The rapper will be joined Friday by fellow Omaha hip-hoppers Noizewave, Big Mista, Holla K, Psych B, and Baggiez With Skullz.
"There will be a lot happening on stage," Hooligan says. "It sort of builds up throughout the set to the finale performance."
He says it's never been easy to get people out to hip-hop shows. He started rapping in 1998 and released his first album in 1999. He's had to work hard to maintain his name and keep people coming to shows and listening to albums, he says.
"Throughout the years I’ve sort of met people and made connections. Back in the day there were all these MC battles — there wasn’t the luxury of computers and downloading music and just making a track," he says. "It’s more than just being a good MC or making things rhyme, or even having good songs — it’s all about hard work."
Hooligan says building and maintaining business and artistic connections have allowed him to perform and release albums for more than a decade.
"It's a lot of work, like balancing your job to collaborate with the people you're working with and using the connections you've worked to make — not just about being in the studio behind the mic," he says. "There are a lot of extremely talented MC’s here, but people don’t know it because they need to be doing the rest of the work. They’ve got a great product, but if they don’t put the hours into it, nobody’s going to know about it."
Hooligan believes Omaha's hip-hop community has enough potential and talent to be known nationally, but that it currently isn't thought of as a hip-hop hub.
"Ultimately, it would be nice to get national recognition and show people that hip hop does exist in places other than New York or LA or Chicago or Texas," he says. "You want what you're doing to be noticed and recognized. It's like how you want your football team to succeed — I want Omaha's hip-hop scene to succeed."
Clearly Hooligan himself has seen some success, or there probably wouldn't be footage of him hitting Snoop Dogg upside the head with one of his fly swatters in his new video. Check it:
Bryce Wergin is an intern for Hear Nebraska. He's always a bit baffled when he hears people say "I don't really care for hip-hop," which thankfully isn't very often. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.