Together with his longtime partner MJG, Memphis’ 8ball has been one of the driving forces in Southern rap for 15 years. After several years with Bad Boy, the duo are moving into a new high profile arrangement this year. Meanwhile, 8ball is staying busy managing his 8 Ways Entertainment label, through which he’s put out a series of  mixtapes, and last month, the “Memphis All-Stars: Cars, Clubs and Stripclubs” compilation. Last week I talked to him slowing down, new music and the meaning of “spage age pimpin’.”

So I know you’ve been busy lately working on getting releases together for your label, 8ways entertainment, lately. Is that a sign that this is the point in your career where you step back and let other folks shine, or is this just something to mess with on the side?

Man, a little bit of both. It’s definitely a time when I’d like to pass the torch to whoever I can, but at the same time, establishing my label as a brand. I want it to be synonymous with Memphis rap.

What do you think has been the secret to Memphis’ success in the rap game?

I don’t know. It’s like the luck of the draw. Maybe it’s a feeling or something that comes from the town. I can’t explain it.

But at the same time, in terms of Memphis having success, since “Stay Fly” and “Ridin’ High,” it seems like Memphis has been a little quiet. Or is that just the national scene not paying attention?

I think nationally people haven’t been paying attention. Atlanta and Miami have really been holding it down. People just haven’t been checking up. That’s gonna change this year because me and MJG drop.

Are you and MJG still with Bad Boy or did you sign with Grand Hustle?

Right now we’re riding with Grand Hustle. We’re doing this 50/50 thing with 8ways and Grand Hustle. You’ll be hearing a little more about that as the year goes on.

But you’re definitely going to drop an album this year?

Definitely. Probably like fall. We’ve got a couple of records we’re about to release. We’ve got a song with T.I. named “Boo.” And we’ve been doing these mixtapes and the underground stuff. MJG had the album “This Might Be the Day.” He’s re-releasing that this year to get a buzz going before our record. He just did a video with Slim from 112 called “One Time.” Then there’s the 8 Ways Ent. Mixtape. We’ve got another one coming, too. “Memphis Allstars” is in stores right now. It’s a classic.  I got Lord T & Eloise. Yo Gotti. Project Pat. Juicy J from Three Six Mafia. Everybody from Memphis is on this album. From Gangsta Black to Al Kapone. From Mac E to La’ Chat to Gangsta Boo. Anybody from Memphis that’s making some noise is on the album.