Lil Boosie has long been one of the Dirty South’s best-kept secrets, building a reputation for both unrestrained club raps and earthy real talk on issues in the black community. He released his first solo album in 2000, and in 2009, his Superbad reached the Top 10. But instead of crossing over, Boosie wound up incarcerated for marijuana possession at Louisiana State Penitentiary. Authorities tried to pile on more charges, including an indictment for first-degree murder, but he and his lawyers beat the accusations in court.
Last year, the 32-year-old – rechristened Boosie BadAzz – was released just in time to see people in Ferguson, Missouri adopt his 2007 mixtape cut “Fuck the Police” as a protest anthem. Now he’s releasing Touch Down 2 Cause Hell, perhaps his most diverse and complete work to date. “It’s a classic album,” says Boosie. “I feel like there ain’t no album out this year fucking with it, period. I just want them to give me a chance.”
Your previous album, Incarcerated, was much darker than this one. It seems like this one has a lot of optimism and hope in it.
That’s because I was in a different place. You gotta understand that the Incarcerated album, it came out in 2010? Well, that music was done in 2006. That was not new music. None of that was new music. It might have had one or two songs on it. That was just an album that was put together [with old material].
Did you write any of the new album while you were still incarcerated?
I wrote a lot of songs while I was in prison. I wrote “I’m Sorry,” that’s on the album, “Window in My Eyes.” Everything else was written after my release. And I recorded everything when I got out. When I was in jail, I was recording mixtapes with C-Murder, too. He isn’t done with it yet. We recorded a mixtape on a tape recorder in jail, in the bathroom. C-Murder was my bunk partner. He slept right over me. We were in Angola together.
What are your thoughts on C-Murder’s situation?
I think he just got the Robert Shapiro law firm, so it’s looking good for him. All he does is work on his case all day. Of course, they’ve got him on a bad case. It’s just getting caught in Louisiana. Louisiana is a cold place as far as putting people in prison. He’s got his lawyers together and I think he’s going to see the streets again, and we waiting on him.
On your album, you have a song, “Mercy on My Soul,” where you talk to God.
It was the second record I recorded when I came home. It was one of those deep records. It was one of those records where I had to face that I was wrong for most of the things I did in life. I had to really stand up and face that.
Do you go to church?
No, I ain’t gonna lie: I ain’t been going to church. But I’m closer to God than I’ve ever been.
Can you talk about the song “Black Heaven”?
Well, “Black Heaven” came about when I was riding down the interstate, listening to 2Pac’s “Thugz Mansion.” And after I said, I want to make a deep song, man. So I just started going through beats, and when that beat came on, I said I’m gon’ make it big, I’m going to write about all the black people, all the black giants that we lost, all the heroic people that we lost. That’s how I came about with “Black Heaven.” I wanted a deep song that would touch people and let people know that there’s versatility in me as far as making music as a whole.
On the last song on the album, “Sorry,” you shout out Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.
What inspired that song was turning on the TV and seeing blacks being shot down. One morning I woke up, I was seeing it on TV. Matter of fact, I was seeing Michael Brown getting shot down. And I went in and made the record. I felt like I had to be a voice.
What motivates you to be that voice? Obviously, a lot of rappers just talk about the good life or what they’re going through personally. They’re not necessarily concerned about social issues.
The stuff I speak about, like the Ferguson shit, that’s a part of me being an artist. What goes on in this world, I talk about it. If it’s going down, I feel like I’m the one that needs to talk about it. I’m the voice of a lot of people, and I’m going to speak my mind about it.
In Louisiana, I’m like a store burning: I stand out.
Were you surprised to see your song “Fuck the Police” get played so much during the Ferguson protests last year?
No, I wasn’t surprised at all to see my music get played at Ferguson, because I’ve been speaking against the cops. I’ve been speaking against dirty police that’s been committing these crimes. It’s just now that people got cell phones to catch ’em at fault. I’ve been talking about this. Y’all the ones that just woke up.
At the same time, it must be heartening to see people adopt your music as a way to speak out about their situation.
Right, because I’m the only one that speaks so directly about the situation. And I’m speaking for other people who can’t speak. So when they’re protesting, they’re listening to music – “Fuck the Police” – and they speaking.
Have you had a chance to speak with any of the Ferguson protestors since you’ve been released?
No, I haven’t had a chance to speak with the people who are organizing the protests and all that. I’m not in a position to do that with me being on parole. I could go back to prison for inciting a riot, you know.
What’s your current parole status? Can you tour and continue to promote your music, or are you limited in terms of what you can do?
They’re letting me tour, but now they’re saying I can’t do [nightclubs] because clubs are violent. Somebody has to stand up. Somebody has to stand up for rappers who are on parole and on probation, because this is our job. We are licensed entertainers. If you’re stopping us from going to the club to do concerts, you’re stopping us from feeding our families. If I can’t do seven to eight club shows that pays me 70 thousand [per show], you’re sending me to federal prison because I can’t pay my taxes now. So there’s nobody in Congress that’s going to stand up? Even Barack Obama, if you listening – somebody needs to stand up for Boosie! Somebody needs to stand up for Meek Mill! Not letting us travel? We’re licensed, and this is how we make our living! We don’t gamble on the corner. We don’t sell watermelon. We sell records and we entertain people. So if you not letting us do our concerts, you’re sending us to federal prison!
When did you find out that you wouldn’t be able to perform in clubs anymore?
Man, this just came about two to three months ago. It’s caused me to get sued by promoters who already had the venues booked for me. This is just not right, man. I feel it’s jealousy and hatred toward rappers who are selling music, and now you want to hold this over their head because [you’re] thinking, “The kids in the community, we got them doing whatever their doing.” But it’s not like that. This country, it doesn’t provide enough jobs for kids. It doesn’t provide enough things for kids to do in the neighborhood. They’re not occupied. So when you’re not occupied, whatchu gotta do? You gotta get it how you live.
Last September, you made a controversial comment in an interview on NiteCap With Peter Bailey: “African-Americans are the worst race.”
Right, but they misconstrued that. I wasn’t saying that as far as the way we dress, what we eat, or things like that. I was saying that as far as the crime. We’re the worst race on black-on-black crime. That’s what I was saying. I was saying that black-on-black crime is the worst out of anywhere in the world. Our race, when it comes to each other, we kill each other like dogs. We’re the worst race in the world because we shoot each other down every day. That’s a fact, and I don’t care who takes it the wrong way, because I’m gonna speak my mind from the fucking jump. So that’s how I feel.
Now that you’ve relocated to Atlanta, do you miss living in Louisiana?
Yeah, I miss Louisiana sometimes, just being around family all the time, and having those barbecues and our little family get-togethers. That’s what I miss the most. But I don’t miss the hatred. I don’t miss the crooked cops down there. I don’t miss the system that hates me down there. I don’t miss a lot of stuff down there except the family and the get-togethers. The other stuff is not. . .I don’t miss that, man. I like the life I’m living right now, and I’m blessed to be living like this.
I’ll go back maybe once or twice a month to check on my kids. I might follow all my kids to school and check in with their principal. But nah, I don’t be in Baton Rouge like that. I don’t feel it’s good for rappers who are on the level I’m on to be in their [home] city like that. That’s where you gonna get killed at, in your city. It’s just facts. That’s why we hustle to get out of the hood. You’ve always got to go back to the hood and show a little love, but it ain’t no place where you lay your head.
Can see retiring there at the end of your career.
No, hell no. N-E-V-E-R. I would never live in Baton Rouge again. My past is too strong for me to go live down there. I’m always reppin’, I’m a always shout out Baton Rouge. That’s my hometown, ’cause I love it, that’s where I’m from. But me living there, associating with people out there, that’s not going to happen.
What’s the difference between Atlanta and Baton Rouge?
The first thing is, I’m not a standout like I was in Louisiana. In Louisiana, there’s only one person driving a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley, and that’s Boosie. I’m like a store burning: I stand out there. I’ve got too many prior altercations with the police. Police in Atlanta don’t hate me. And Atlanta is a music capital. You can drive around the corner, and you’re on a video shoot. Everybody out there, they’ve got music on their minds. In Louisiana, music ain’t on none of them dudes’ minds. It’s nothing but jealousy and hatred. It’s not a place where, when you get to that status, you would want to be living, you know? Lil Wayne don’t live in New Orleans. Baby [Birdman] don’t live in New Orleans.
One of your most popular YouTube tracks is “Top to the Bottom,” and its message is about climbing from the bottom to the top in the South, only to encounter people who don’t necessarily understand where you came from.
If you listen to it, it’s the “Juicy” flow off that old Notorious B.I.G. But I say, “It was all a dream/I used to write raps in my notebook/A baby G tryin’ to walk like Eazy-E/2Pac was the shit to me.” I switched it up from what Biggie said. But that record came about as far as me just, like, being successful and reminding people who said, “This is a bad ass kid who’s not going to make it.” I’m reminding them, like, they said I’d never make because I came from so much poverty.
I always reflect on that because if you forget where you came from, it’ll be hard to get where you’re going. That’s why people are successful: because they remember where they came from and they don’t want to go back to that.