From recently starring alongside the iconic Elton John in a hilarious Snickers commercial to signing with Eminem’s Shady Records imprint in 2017, Boogie is establishing himself as one of the hottest emerging acts to come out of the West Coast.
The work that the Compton-bred rapper put in over the last five years is finally paying off, and like any other emerging rapper, Boogie should be basking in the success. But if you let him tell it, the fruits of his labor haven’t wavered his focus.
“I don’t pay attention to that shit,” Boogie tells Billboard when asked about the signal boost of working with Elton John and signing with Em. The opportunities Boogie locked in would cause any emerging rapper to celebrate but the 29-year-old’s passion for music remains at the center of his attention.
His love for the art form was born in the First Evergreen Missionary Baptist Church in Compton, where his mother sent him to stay out of trouble. He eventually joined the church choir, and from there he fell in love with melodies and music overall. But Boogie would soon find the trouble his mother tried to keep him away from, when he was introduced to gangbanging through a friend in the choir. In the years following his initiation, Boogie would experience a number of hardships and life-altering moments, like getting shot and becoming a father.
It’s these real-life experiences that would become the backbone of Boogie’s raps. He’s not afraid to speak on the trying moments that not only he faced but many others. The “Oh My” rapper’s brand of music that includes songs of heartbreak, police brutality, gangbanging and more has won over a number of listeners and has gotten him cosigns from Rihanna and fellow Compton native Kendrick Lamar.
His debut project Thirst 48 was released in 2014, with two more projects The Reach (2015) and Thirst 48, Pt. II (2016) coming after. But his Shady Records debut Everythings For Sale — released today (Jan. 25), and featuring J.I.D., Eminem, 6LACK, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and Snoh Aalegra on its impresive guest list — will give listeners an even deeper look into his mind, as well as his impressive singing and rapping abilities. Boogie again shows his vulnerability through intense self-reflection on “Tired/Reflections,” while rapping about the pains of the industry alongside J.I.D. on “Soho” and tackling the many levels of a relationship and heartbreak on “Whose Fault,” “Swap Meet,” and “No Warning.”
“I want my project to take people on an emotional roller coaster,” he says. “I don’t want it to be like this thing that’s all rapping or all melodies and you’re just bored. I really wanted to be myself on the songs, but take you through all these different feelings.”
Billboard spoke to Boogie about his debut album, his experiences with mental health, what he felt was the hardest thing to rap about on Everythings For Sale, and why he wants to compete with Eminem. Check it out below.
Was there anything you did differently on Everythings For Sale that wasn’t done on your previous projects?
As far as singing, pushing my voice and not doing comfortable melodies. I have melodies that my brain always goes to because I’m so good at it. But just pushing my voice, trying new flows — like more off-beat sounding flows — and pushing boundaries.
How do you feel about the negative perception that melodies get in hip-hop?
To each its own. I started off barring up, so I can do that all day. But it brings a different aspect to the song when you can bring melodies and go back to a flow. It just makes it more interesting to me.
Which do you prefer to do more, singing or rapping?
To be honest, I think it switches. Right now, I feel like I want to rap. If I do a song where I’m singing, my brain tells me, “OK, you need to rap now.” If I do more of a rap song, I need to start singing. It always goes back and forth.
What were some of the other projects or genres that inspired Everythings For Sale?
For this project, I was listening to a lot of R&B. I don’t listen to a lot of rap actually. I love L.A. rap and ratchet music. I love Summer Walker, too, that’s my dog. When I listen to her, I’m like, “Damn I gotta sing better and come with better melodies.” I love J.I.D., he makes me want to rap better all the time, because he really be rapping. And my boy REASON.
That’s how I been my whole life. I’ve been an R&B-based dude since church, and I think that’s just what’s been instilled in me. I couldn’t really find that feeling in rap, so I found it in R&B.
What’s your relationship like with Eminem?
I’m competing with Em. I don’t think anyone understands that I want to take his spot. I love him and that’s my big bro. He signed me and changed my life. But I want his spot, and I want to be richer than him.
But it was random first meeting him. I was at home in my little apartment, and then my A&R called me and said Em liked me and wanted to fuck with me. I was hype, because that’s Em and that’s dope, but I wasn’t really paying attention to it. I’m the type of person that needs to see shit. And I think a few days later, I was in Detroit with him. He’s a real person. We don’t see Eminem out a lot cause he just be in the house, but we don’t understand he’s a real person. He goes through real-life shit still.
How would you describe your evolution from Thirst 48 to Everythings For Sale?
I think, on the first project, I was still trying to figure out who I was. I didn’t really have people around me telling me what a good album is. I just had an idea of what I thought a good album was. I recorded it all by myself, and all of it was trash. I think now I’m more comfortable. I’m conceited as hell. I play this humble role, but honestly, I’m super conceited now.
What was the main thing you wanted to get across on this album?
That I’m a self-destructive person. I think my fans sometimes put me on a pedestal because of the way everybody else is rapping, and they don’t think I’m a drug head but I really be fucking up a lot. On one of these songs, I say, “I cheated on my queen for a ho.” That’s real-life stuff. The song “Self-Destruction” is about me knowing that I’m fucking up. I just want people to understand that you need to really reflect on yourself and really take that time to sit with yourself and understand what’s wrong and acknowledge it. You’ll grow from it.
What was the hardest thing for you to rap about on this album?
The hardest thing to rap about was me accepting that I’m conscious of my ignorance. I think that’s something a lot of us run from. We try to play ignorant to a lot of stuff, but you knowing that you’re ignorant, you are kind of conscious of it. So it’s me just accepting that, like, “n—a you really gotta change,” and to stop just talking about change and faking it, but really sit there with yourself and reflect and figure out what you need to change.
Are mental health issues something you deal with? There’s a lot you speak on with this album that connects to mental health in a way.
I’m definitely in my head a lot, and I’m definitely sad a lot of the times as well. It’s been nice through, this process over the past couple of years. I cried a lot, and I think my main thing with it was was not telling people. Hopefully, with the stuff with people losing their lives over the past year — I know it’s sad, but hopefully, it could teach people that you can talk about it, and open up to your friends and not be scared to tell people that you’re hurting.
My position on it is that it’s a very serious thing right now. I feel like it can get saturated because a lot of people just throw the word around sometimes. But I don’t think that part of it being real is up to you. I think you need to check on your people no matter if you think they’re strong or they’re weak. Always check on them and never take it lightly.
At times on the album you tell us that you are hurting. What are some of the other coping mechanisms you have to help you with these issues?
It’s sad, but weed. That’s the time we’re in now. People are running from their reality, instead of just accepting and going through it. We use coping mechanisms like drugs.
How do you feel being apart of this new wave of artists coming out of the West Coast?
I love it. It really pushes me. I’ve known REASON for a long time and to see his growth and hearing him bar up, it pushed me. I don’t know, we’re just nice over there. [Laughs.] L.A. is really all over the place. If you look at the difference between Reason, me and Blueface, we all great in our own right. L.A. is all over the place.
What’s a classic West Coast album you would pick to describe your life in Compton?
good kid, m.A.A.d city.
That’s funny because Reason picked the same thing when we spoke.
Nah, I’m changing my answer then. [Laughs.] I’ll pick To Pimp a Butterfly. REASON is from Carson, man. good kid, m.A.A.d city is more for me. But that’s my boy though. I would pick good kid, m.A.A.d city though just because it’s literally my life, except for the part that I started gangbanging. Kendrick found a way to avoid it of course, but he still got his affiliation with the hood.
Where do you feel you fit in amongst the hip-hop landscape?
A lot of the time, I feel like I don’t fit in with what’s popping in hip-hop right now. But I don’t know, I turn up to all that shit, too. I’m not a conscious person like people think. I love what I talk about and I think about the stuff that I talk about. But I’m not as conscious as everything thinks. I listen to ignorant shit, I’m ignorant.