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"When we first signed Bubba, he told me he listened to Tim McGraw and OutKast, and that gave us our marketing plan."
——Steve Stoute, Interscope Head of Black Music
SQUEEZING OUT SPARXXX
Debut Release From Timbaland’s Beat Club/Interscope Label Introduces The Elvis Presley Of Rap
Bubba Sparxxx’s "Ugly" is turning into a big, beautiful hit, while the Georgia football star-turned-rapper is being touted as the Elvis Presley of hip-hop.

The first track from his debut album, Dark Days, Bright Nights—the initial release on renowned rap producer Timbaland’s Beat Club Records label on Interscope, streeting Sept. 25—is exploding at Rhythm and Urban Crossover Radio, with the video getting plenty of MTV and BET play. Top 40’s up next for the track, which samples Missy Elliott’s "Get Ur Freak On."

Interscope Head of Marketing & Sales Steve Berman stopped recording vocal tracks for the next Eminem album to say: "This is a very important release for Steve Stoute and all of us as the first signing to Timbaland’s new label. We really worked hard to create an initial buzz with a real street presence, but this record is exploding at radio. And now I’m not the only Bubba in the office."

Timbaland, who stormed onto the rap scene in 1997 as half of the Norfolk, VA-based hip-hop artist/producer duo Timbaland & Magoo, has worked with Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, Jay-Z and Ginuwine, among others. Sparxxx, whose real name is Warren Anderson Mathis, was actually brought to the attention of Interscope Geffen A&M boss Jimmy Iovine by label A&R rep Gerardo Mejia—that’s right, the "Rico Suave" dude himself—who heard a 12-track indie album released by Sparxxx on his own label. Iovine then turned Timbaland on to Bubba after inking a deal with the hip-hop pro-ducer’s Beat Club imprint. Timbaland ended up producing six of the tracks, including "Ugly."

Said IGA Exec. VP East Coast and President Black Music Steve Stoute: "When we first signed Bubba, he told me he listened to Tim McGraw and OutKast, and that gave us our marketing plan. The world is ready for these two worlds to meet, and Timbaland was clever enough to find that musical balance. The only way to win is to think outside the box, which gives you the chance for a huge upside. And this is one that works."

Product Manager Chris Clancy says "Ugly" is just the tip of the Bubba iceberg. "He’s a white working-class hero from the South who grew up on rap. Kids everywhere can relate to him. This is not just an Urban but a suburban phenomenon. When Timbaland first heard the music, he freaked out, flew down there and the next day they were in the studio."

*Bubba has free-styled on morning shows at KKBT and KPWR in L.A., and will embark on a tour of radio stations in Tampa, S.F., Hartford, Boston, Providence, Phoenix and Miami, where he’ll appear at the "Mixshow Power Summit."

*While in N.Y., he’ll visit MTV, MTV2 and BET.

*Upcoming stories are slated in XXL, Vibe, Source and Rolling Stone.

*Street teams are sniping in numerous major and secondary markets, with promotional beer-can holders.

*TV ad buys on MTV VMAs, Source Awards.

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