Michael "Mystikal"Tyler is one of the best-known rappers from New Orleans. While his early recordings featured agile, rapid-fire vocal performances, his work in the 1990s moved closer to the conventions of the local bounce style, a dance-oriented genre.
Michael “Mystikal” Tyler is one of the best-known rappers from New Orleans. While his early recordings featured agile, rapid-fire vocal performances, his work in the 1990s moved closer to the conventions of the local bounce style, a dance-oriented genre. Bounce often relies on references to local neighborhoods, chanted “hooks” rather than extended narrative raps, and interaction between performer and audience based in call-and-response. Beginning in 1994, Mystikal released albums on the Big Boy, Jive, and No Limit record labels, with his most successful effort, Let’s Get Ready (2000), selling more than two million copies. His career suffered a setback in 2004 when he was sentenced to a six-year prison term for sexual battery; he was released in 2010.
Michael Tyler was born on September 22, 1970; his father died when he was seven. As a result, he raised primarily by his mother. After graduating from high school, he joined the U.S. Army and went to Iraq during the 1991 Operation Desert Storm. Upon his return to New Orleans, he worked as a security guard. His rap career took off in early 1994 after he was invited to open a concert by the legendary 1980s group Run-DMC at the Tremé Community Center. At this event, his performance caught the ear of Leroy “Precise” Edwards, the in-house producer for Big Boy Records, who signed Mystikal to a contract. Big Boy released an eponymous, full-length album in late 1994, which rose to number fifty-six on the Billboard rhythm and blues (R&B) chart, even without national distribution.
Big Boy had sold more than 300,000 copies of the record when it finalized a deal with Jive, another record label, for national distribution of Mystikal’s music. With the addition of several new tracks, Jive re-released Mystikal’s debut with the new title Mind of Mystikal. Mystikal filmed a video for the song “Here I Go” featuring a variety of New Orleans landmarks in late 1996. As his career was blossoming, however, he experienced personal tragedy; his sister, Michelle, was murdered by her boyfriend shortly before the album’s release. The record was distributed nationally in late 1995 and sold more than 500,000 copies, enough to reach gold status.
In 1997, Mystikal began an association with the New Orleans-based No Limit label, founded by Percy “Master P” Miller. In a partnership with Jive, No Limit released Unpredictable in 1997, followed by Ghetto Fabulous in 1998. His biggest success came in the form of the double-platinum selling Let’s Get Ready, which debuted at the top of its chart. Singles—including the funky, dance-inspired “Shake Ya Ass” (nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Rap Solo Performance) and “Danger (Been So Long),” which topped the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart in 2000—drove album sales. His 2001 album Tarantula featured another danceable hit, “Bouncin Back (Bumpin Me Against the Wall.)”
In early 2004, Mystikal was sentenced to six years in prison for a sexual assault against his former hairdresser. Shortly afterwards, he was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to a concurrent one-year sentence. He was released in January 2010.