You know his name. Hell, you even know his number. But there’s a lot you don’t know about Mike Jones. Helping to introduce the country to Houston’s southern-fried brand of hip-hop in 2005 with the classic posse cut “Still Tippin,” Mike Jones’ was poised to become the next big thing in hip-hop. But after going double platinum with his debut Who Is Mike Jones?, he hit the dreaded sophomore jinx, following up in 2007 with the film and EP, both entitled The American Dream, which fell largely below the radar. Now back with a new album set to drop later this month and a mouthful to say, got up close and personal with Mr. Jones as he talks about his label holding him back, how he feels about artists giving out their numbers, his 100lbs. weight loss and more. Who? Allow him to reintroduce himself.

XXLMag: Your new record is called The Voice. What’s the science behind that title?

Mike Jones: I called the album The Voice because I wanted to explain to the fans why I’ve been on a four-year hiatus and why politics can mess up any artist, even if they’re financially straight. I wanna let everybody know what’s been going on, where I been, what’s the word, what’s been happening. Ya’ll gonna finally hear, from my mouth to ya'll ears.

XXL: The first couple singles, “Cuddy Buddy” and “Next To You” have a different sound that people are used to hearing from you. Why the new direction?

Mike Jones: I wanna let it be clear that those songs, “Cuddy Buddy” and “Next To You” were made in ’06. It ain't like I just made these records just recently and decided to go in a whole new lane. I been had them. I already had those records around the time of Who Is Mike Jones? If you ask T-Pain, Lil Wayne and Twista, they’ll tell you I had those a long time ago. It’s just that the politics didn’t want me to present the world with that lane. They wanted me to stay with the street side. So to keep the ball rolling, I stayed with that street side, but I always kept these records in my safe. We sold 2 million records in 2005 and the very next year I was working on The American Dream and I wanted to put them on that album but they didn’t like those songs. I had to hold onto those songs until I got everything together. Everything that could have went wrong went wrong politically in ’06. And in that four-year hiatus of politics and bullshit, I just decided to come with a whole new look. Plus, I started working out and eating Subway and I went from 295lbs to 190lbs.

XXL: Yea, you’ve definitely undergone a drastic physical change as far as the weight. Was that a health choice or more to improve your image?

Mike Jones: Tell the truth, if those records hadn’t have been held back, I’d still be the chubby Mike Jones. I was just so busy and on the go all the time. If those records would have dropped, with the momentum I had then, I would have been even busier. So when they didn’t feel those records, it threw me for a loop. I got put on the bench and only then did I start looking out for my health. So I was like once people start catching on to these records I’d have a new look too and they’d be like ‘wow.’ It took me about 5 or 6 months.

XXL: So did you feel like people would possibly forget about you during your time off?

Mike Jones: I mean [the label] messed up my timing, my buzz and my momentum and it allowed other people to slide in, which is cool. But it did make me have to start from scratch.

XXL: You had an altercation with Trae Tha Truth at the Ozone Awards last year and even your homeboy Slim Thug said it seemed like you went into hiding after that. Did you fall back from the scene on purpose after that?

Mike Jones: At the end of the day, I just didn’t have time to be around negativity. I address all of that on The Voice. I don’t wanna give too much away because I want people to hear the album, but even before the incident happened I wasn’t really in the city [Houston] like that because I’m always traveling. I’m a national artist, I’m not just no local guy, you feel me? But I don’t be in the clubs and stuff like that. I respect Slim for what he do and everybody else for what they do but I’m my own person and I do my own thing. If I’m hiding I’m hiding in the studio. My records speak for me.

XXL: Speaking of your own thing, you were the first dude to give your number out to fans. Now other artists like MIMS and Soulja Boy are doing it. Do you take that type of thing as flattery?

Mike Jones: I would take it as flattery if people wasn’t calling me a gimmick rapper for doing it when I first came out, you feel me? At first they said I was a gimmick, I was crazy, what am I doing giving my number out. But then they said, ‘dang, that do work’ and then start copying it. That’s like me hating on you for doing it but then a year later I’m doing it. It’s flattering that people are finally seeing that Mike Jones is ahead of his time and I’m cool with that. I don’t got no beef with nobody. I just wonder if the world got amnesia or does the world know where that came from.

XXL: People haven’t heard much from your label Ice age or its artists as of late. What’s going on with that?

Mike Jones: Ice Age is back stronger than ever. You know, I had to get rid of a lot of people because when death and stealing starts to come…you just can’t have that around you. I mean Ice Age as a label is better than ever because it’s me. I’m the CEO and I’m the one that signs artists and get it together. I was looking out for people and they weren’t appreciative of what I was doing. So, when they started to pull those moves, I had to let them go and start over. But I’m not bitter. You’ll hear me talk about it on the album.

XXL: You’ve obviously had ebbs and flows to your career but you’ve also had a lot of success. Would you have done anything different looking back?

Mike Jones: See looking back is what got me moving forward so that I won’t make those same mistakes no more. I won’t have to wait on nobody no more. If they don’t feel it, now I know other avenues to get my music out there. Just wait til you hear the album. I wouldn’t bullshit you. It’s gonna be what you want. Plus December '09 I’m dropping another album called Expect The Unexpected. I’m already six songs into that album.

XXL: Sounds like you really back on your grind…

Mike Jones: I been on it though, you feel me? That’s what I want the world to know. Mike Jones didn’t just fall off the face of the earth. It was reasons for me not being able to just come back and see me doing what I’m doing now. And I just wanna tell ‘em that until they sell a lot of records, their voice is on mute.

XXL: Anything else you wanna get out there fam?

Mike Jones: Hit me up on my new cell phone, (281) 206-4336. And be on the lookout for me having that Subway deal. I’m about to be the urban hip-hop Jared, baby! [laughs].- Anthony Roberts