Rapper Boogie: From Gangs to Club Bangers and Kendrick Lamar Cosigns

boogie 2015
Jack Wagner

Boogie photographed in 2015.

L.A. MC Boogie talks why it's important to stay hungry (and open-minded).

From: Los Angeles

Age: 25

Backstory: Long before rapper Boogie blew up on YouTube and collaborated with EDM stars, his mother, worried about his grades, shipped him off to church boarding school, where he fell in love with gospel music -- and gangs. "The church was in the middle of a crazy neighborhood," says Boogie, born Anthony Dixson. "As crazy as it sounds, church is why I started gangbanging."

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Big Break: Two years ago, he met his manager, Clayton Blaha, co-founder of Skrillex's OWSLA label, who pushed him from the streets to the studio, to record 2014's Thirst 48 and this past spring's The Reach. The latter spawned "Oh My," which has racked up almost 1 million clicks on YouTube. "I've been working at my craft for so long," says Boogie, "I would've been surprised if people didn't like it."

Co-Signs: Bridging the gap between rap and electro, Boogie has been praised by Skrillex on Twitter and collaborated with SBTRKT, writing rhymes in his mind on account of being "damn near legally blind" in one eye.

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Up Next: New pals like Kendrick Lamar cameo on his Instagram, but Boogie is focused on recording new music, not celebrity: "If I'm not getting better, I'm not working hard enough. I don't want to get complacent in any shape or form."

Listen to music from Boogie, and more music from this issue, in the Spotify playlist below:

This story originally appeared in the Aug. 22 issue of Billboard.