May 7, 2011 6:35 PM by Posted by Sharlee Barriere
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - His prison sentence behind him, rapper
Mystikal returns Saturday to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and his hometown fans a little older, a little wiser and a bit more humble - but still carrying that same fresh spirit that helps keep the party going on and on.
Mystikal, whose real name is Michael Tyler, is a featured artist at this year's festival. He earned a place on the schedule after last year's guest appearance during Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews' set had the crowd singing along and shaking body parts to songs like "Bouncin' Back (Bumping Me Against the Wall)" and remembering, six years later, why they were fans in the first place.
Tyler was released from state prison in January 2010 after serving a six-year term for sexual battery and extorton. In an interview with The Associated Press, Mystikal said he's humbled by the fans' support and promises "to do great things with this second chance."
"Six years is a long time," he said. "To leave the fans with their hands in the air and to come back six years later and the people still have their hands in the air, that's nothing but God. I'm standing in a position that's so humbling."
He said he's still awed by fans' reactions to his performances.
"It just floors me, especially to see the youngsters," he said. "It's like their parents passed me down like a pair of pants. Those kids don't really know me or my music - but then they do, through their parents' memories of me and my music."
Tyler, now 40, said getting out of jail was just the first step to reclaiming his life and career.
"I was so far behind in terms of fashion. I came home looking like a character, wearing a throwback (shirt). I just knew I was looking good and nobody would tell me different. I was so wrong," he recalled, laughing. "The world was spinning so fast when I got home and I had to catch on. But I took my time and jumped back in and now I'm on one leg. Soon, I'll be on both."
Tyler said festival fans can expect to see the same kind of energy and passion that he brought when he was in top form with such popular hits as "Shake Ya Ass" and "Danger (Been So Long)."
"Jazz Fest, you better get ready," he said. "It's gonna be incredible. People fixin' to enjoy themselves," he said.
He said he also plans to drop "Fish Grease," a mix-tape, in June as a prelude to his next album. "It's the least I can do," he said, "to come back with some strong music."
The festival, presented by Shell, runs through Sunday at the Fair Grounds Race Course.