For Atlanta-based, Houston-bred rapper/producer Cory Mo, his first solo album in more than a decade came about out of nowhere. "I was in Atlanta and [Talib] Kweli came down for a show, and I ended up picking him up from the airport, and I was like, check out some of my new shit," he said in an interview at the XXL offices last week. "I kept playing more records and more records, and he was like, 'Why don't you put out an album under my label real quick?' I've been knowing Kweli for a lot of years, but I didn't see that one coming."

The result was Take It Or Leave It (Javotti Media/C Mozart Muzik), which dropped yesterday (October 22) and features guest spots from Kweli, Big K.R.I.T., Devin The Dude, Chamillionaire, Raheem DeVaughn, and the immortal Bun B from UGK. It was Bun and his former partner Pimp C who helped Cory get a leg up in the music industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s, taking him out on the road with UGK and under their wing when making records like 2007's Platinum-selling Underground Kingz. With ten mixtapes in the past eleven years—including a few with Houston legend OG Ron C—Cory's had his fair share of production and rapping experience, contributing to tracks with Devin The Dude, Z-Ro, The Geto Boys and both Pimp and Bun's solo projects.

With Take It Or Leave It hitting stores this week, Cory sat down with XXL to talk about what he's learned from UGK, Talib Kweli, OG Ron C, the mixtape circuit and his 15 years in the game. —Dan Rys (@danrys)