Last December, the thought of turning 23 years old frightened A Boogie wit da Hoodie. At the time, he was only a few weeks away from releasing his sophomore album, Hoodie SZN, but yet, fear dampened his outlook. Before reaching his Jordan Year, The Bronx rapper admitted to almost suffering a "midlife crisis."
"I overloaded myself with work," Boogie ruminated during our interview last year. "I give myself work to do so I don't give myself time to chill and have free time to chill with the family as much."
Eight months later, Boogie is doing what he once strived to do last year: chill and relax. On this humid Wednesday night, he isn't letting work take the front seat to his celebratory evening. In honor of receiving over 200 million streams on Audiomack, along with a whopping 1.6 billion plays coming courtesy of Billboard 200 chart-topper Hoodie SZN on all platforms,Boogie looks to toast to his accomplishments all before his 24th birthday this December.
"I'm going for the top, top, top, you feel me," he chuckles shortly before receiving his plaque from Audiomack founder David Ponte.
Despite Boogie taking the night off, this year has been anything but chill for the "Drowning" MC. This past summer, he notched a bevy of guest slots alongside pop titans Ed Sheeran ("1000 Nights") and Khalid ("Right Back Remix") He didn't forget about his rap comrades either, leaving his handprints on Mustard's "Baguettes in the Face," and Gucci Mane's searing banger "Blind." Boogie's indelible run speaks to his desire to reach the "top, top, top," especially with his forthcoming single "Mood Swings," slated to drop Sept. 13.
"It's my first video I directed," he exclusively tells Billboard. "Me and Eif Rivera directed this shit. This shit is about to be fire."
During his celebration dinner, Boogie spoke to Billboard about his success with Audiomack, the lessons he learned from Hoodie SZN, the genius of Young Thug, wanting to build a legacy in The Bronx, and more. Check it out below.
Billboard: You started your career with a freestyle to a Mobb Deep's "Quiet Storm" record and now you're at 200 million streams with Audiomack. What does this accomplishment mean for you?
A Boogie wit da Hoodie: It's only a small accomplishment to me. I'm always gonna feel like that, man. This is a good level coming from the streets, but I feel like that's not it. This is a different league. I'm in this position now and I got the same amount of levels to go. Like the same amount of shit I just did, I could do that shit all over again. That's how I feel.
Your confidence is on 100 right now.
Exactly. I'm gonna do it. Anything that I put my mind to, I do it.
You also earned 1.6 billion streams on all platforms with Hoodie SZN. What lessons can you say you've learned from this project that you're hoping to carry on to the next release?
Man, I just go with my mood. Whenever mood I'm in, that's when I hit record. That's how I feel about my music and that's how I always feel. I stopped competing. I used to think that I had to compete with another rappers just to prove a point, but I stopped thinking like that. I just compete with myself and it's been working out good for me like that.
How do you feel you've gotten better as an artist since you were entered the scene in 2016?
I'm only 23 and I get to feed my family, you feel me? I get the best for my daughter. I get to have a whole set out for her. Anything she wants, she can get without even asking from me when she gets older. That's what life is all about, really setting things up for your family, your loved ones and building an empire. We gotta keep it in the family and just grind.
You've always said you wanted to work with pop artists and this year, you teamed up with Ed Sheeran and Khalid. Talk about your versatility and how you've been able to segue over to that lane?
Man, that's the blessing right there and where I feel like I've touched in as an artist. Nobody can't touch that right there. When I make that type of music, I feel like it's a feeling that don't even directly go into the pop lane, it goes into different categories. Like it can go into a rock lane, a hip-hop/R&B lane, a pop lane, etc. It's like we're mixing one sound together nowadays and I'm just mastering that. Feel me?
Is there anybody from the pop world that you're looking to work with on your next album?
Khalid. I fuck with Khalid.
You did do the remix for "Right Back" with him recently.
That was a great record and I'm glad he put me on that because I really wanted to touch on a joint with him that made sense and that one made a lot of sense even though it was a remix, I never been on a remix that was so big. That remix was a big remix for me.
One of your past collaborators, Young Thug, just went No. 1 with his album So Much Fun. You learned to freestyle off the top from Thugger in terms of writing records.
Exactly. Young Thug is a teacher and I'm a student of the game, you feel me? We're two people that understand things and understand that [making hits] is a huge key to this whole shit. N----s act like a n---a ain't do shit for you. Nah, he did a lot for me. He ain't never gave me a dollar, but he did a lot for me by giving me keys and ways to make music. He has knowledge, period. People that do shit like that for you will always do shit for you. So shout-out to Thug on that and congratulations to that No. 1 album. For real.
You told Interview Magazine earlier this year that you had 10 records done with Lil Uzi Vert and kept five of them. Have you guys worked together since then?
Yeah, we just made another joint the other day. Some fire shit the other day. I think it was yesterday, actually. I can't remember really. I'm about to link up with this n---a after this shit.
What makes the chemistry between you and him so strong?
It's the same thing that me and every other artist I get along with got: It's that real genuine shit when you link up with an artist. Fuck the cameras. When it's off-cameras, that's when it's real. You don't gotta see the love on video. This shit is real life. This shit we talking about is our real thoughts and shit. We be talking about shit that we go through. N----s don't understand shit.
You have a new record coming soon titled "Mood Swings."
We just made the video. It's my first video I directed. Me and Eif Rivera directed this shit. This shit is about to be fire. This shit is coming in like a week or two. I'm just waiting for the edits to be done. I'm about to go fly out to them and help edit because I really want to make sure this shit comes out perfect.
I remember Tory Lanez once told me he learned how to direct his own videos. So what was that feeling like for you taking on that responsibility for the first time?
Chris Brown made me want to start doing everything. I started producing. Half of my album right now, Artist 2.0 is produced by me. This shit is going to be directed by me with the videos, every video. So shout-out to Chris Brown. He made me really into that shit and a couple of other artists.
What do you want your legacy to be for your hometown of The Bronx?
Man, I'm gonna say it like this: The Bronx right now, it's been like this. Even though we started this shit and we're the roots to this shit, it's a hard place to overcome and make unity in that shit, you feel me? So my goal right now is to one day really, really, really come together on some like Atlanta shit, on some strong unity shit because that shit is hard for us. Like growing up, it was crazy. Nobody got along and shit. Nowadays, I just want it to be different. I want to make more unity, make more peace in that shit.
Because of your success, you probably would be the one who can get all The Bronx artists on a record right now. Have you thought about that?
Yeah, I been thought about that. I was going to talk to Cardi B about that because I feel like when it comes to that, we really the king and queen when it comes to that shit. We could really make shit different. We trying to give back and get shit together with schools by giving out backpacks, but it got messed up with the police. I really think that shit can become something and we can really make things happen.