The West Coast has once again become a super power in hip-hop, producing an endless crop of talented artists of all varieties. From eclectic, carefree rhymers to more cerebral lyricists, the “Coast With the Most” has it all, but one spitter that is looking to place his face and name next to those at the forefront of the Cali renaissance is Boogie.
Breaking out with his 2015 Jahlil Beats-produced single “Oh My,” which has amassed more than 2 million views on YouTube alone, the Compton representative has built on his initial success slowly, but surely. Proving himself to be more than a viral sensation with critically acclaimed mixtapes like The Reach, Westside Boogie piqued the interest of Interscope Records, who quickly scooped the rapper up in 2015. However, in spite of quality releases like his Thirst 48 Pt. II mixtape, Boogie appeared to be on the brink of music industry purgatory, with no signs of a major label album release in sight.
That perception would change in October, when it was announced that Boogie had inked a deal with Eminem and Shady Records in the wake of participating in the Shady cypher at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards.
“Boogie is everything I look for in an MC,” said Eminem at the time of the West Coast rhymer’s signing. “Unique voice and point of view combined with crazy wordplay. This is a great fit and I’m excited for what’s to come.”
The news may have come as a surprise to rap fans, albeit a pleasant one, to most. When asked about how he linked up with Em and company, Boogie explains that the process was a fairly quick one.
“Shit, I don’t know, I think it got to [Eminem’s manager] Paul [Rosenberg] first, maybe the Rihanna thing probably put it on their radar,” Boogie tells XXL during a visit to our New York office—last year, Rihanna named Boogie “my new fav.” “And then Paul hit me, which is Eminem manager and then the relationship builded from there. I met with Em, he told me how he was a really big fan of my music. It wasn’t just the big songs he knew, he actually knew my project and the concepts of it. So it was just humbling knowing that Em know my shit.”
With the backing of one of the greatest and most bankable rappers of all-time, odds are that Westside Boogie will have all eyes in his direction while he preps for the release of his major label debut, an album that could elevate the Compton menace into rare air.
XXL chopped it up with Boogie about signing to Shady, working with Eminem, what he’s got in store for his debut album and more.
XXL: After the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher, it was announced that you had signed with Shady Records. What was your reaction to the positive reception to that?
Boogie: I was happy. Shit, I was ready to announce it. I think it was dope that everybody rocked with it, everybody picked it up and shit like that. I fucked with it.
This was also your first time doing the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher. What was that experience like?
That was crazy ’cause I always looked at that shit on TV, so to actually, like, be a part of it, I was nervous at first, but once I started rapping, it was dope though. Super dope.
Were you aware that the announcement of our signing would be made soon and if so, did that give you extra incentive to kill the cypher?
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I had a feeling. I think I knew, like, a day or two before. OK, we gonna announce it after this freestyle, so let me make sure I go in. But either way, every time I rap I try to get as many bars as possible, so it really don’t make a difference.
You previously announced that you had signed to Interscope. What occurred between then and now that caused you to transition to Shady?
I think that was just the universe telling me I needed more help. I feel like we were doing so much, all we could to get to a certain level, but in the day and age it is, you need a cosign as sad as it is. And I’m super blessed for having this cosign, but you need a cosign these days and having Em, the greatest rapper of all-time, is crazy.
What was the time period, from the start to the finish, when the talks first began with Paul?
Everything just happened recently. It just all started happening within the past month or so. He called me out there for BET [Hip Hop Awards] weekend and then everything happened.
So you weren’t even signed when you did the cypher?
Nah, it was around that weekend. I’m not sure if it was the same day ’cause I don’t really know when the paperwork got finished and all that, but it was definitely around that BET [Hip Hop Awards] weekend when everything happened.
Even though you’ve only been with the label for a few weeks, what has your experience been like getting accustomed to life as a member of the Shady family so far?
I honestly try to keep the same program and the same mentality. Like I know Em and what he can do is gonna help me, but I still try to make sure I’m doing everything myself as far as on the inner circle. Making sure we still do the production that we need to do, I still rap my ass off and I know that Em is gonna do what he can do, but we need to do our part first.
How would you describe the difference in your label situation now compared to when you were signed directly to Interscope?
I mean, you know you get more leverage in the building when you got Em behind you, so I’d probably say it’s just a leverage thing. It’s a power move, honestly. I got Em behind me. Me, just me saying it, even if he don’t do nothing for me or get on a song with me or nothing like that, just the fact that I’m signed to Eminem, that’s enough for me. That’s more leverage than I’ve had in this game, period. Ever.
There’s been a lot of talk surrounding Eminem’s manager Paul Rosenberg departing from Interscope Records to go run things at Def Jam. Will that have any affect on your project?
Paul still Shady. He ain’t leave [that label]. He still hands on with me. I still talk to Paul so I don’t think it’s gonna affect me. If anything, it’s gonna give us more power.
Being that your label head is also one of the greatest rappers of all time, what has it been like being signed to Eminem and under his wing thus far?
It’s unreal. It makes me wanna work harder ’cause the way he rap and you can tell the hours he put into it, as far as the technical aspect of rap. Whether you’re a fan of Em, think he got bars or not, just listen to the technical part of Em and that’s enough. That puts pressure on me ’cause I know I gotta work hard ’cause I know he signed me because he wants me to be bigger than what he did. So that’s a lot of pressure on me.
What have your interactions with Eminem been like since signing with Shady?
Yeah, the first time, I was nervous as shit just because he got all the star power and it’s like, Damn, it’s Em. I had never seen him in person. I don’t think a lot of people ever seen him in person because he be so ducked off, but then as the relationship grew, he’s like a super regular dude and I can talk to him about a lot of stuff. Like, what I wanna do with my music, where I see my music going. He’ll actually listen and not just try to come with his opinion and, like, belittle me. He listens to me.
With you signing to Shady, there’s obviously gonna be anticipation for new music. Are there any releases that the fans can expect?
Yeah, we in album mode but we finna drop some records in the next couple weeks. I’m just not sure what we’re gonna lead with. [I got] a record named “Came Up,” a little high-energy joint talking ’bout how I from the struggle and those type of vibes to where I’m at now, ’cause I’m popping [laughs].
What’s the difference between your day-to-day and how other people perceive you? How does it feel to be the man of the moment?
Yeah, it’s super dope, but I learned this time around how this game changes and how I can be hot today and the internet forget about stuff so fast they got amnesia. I had that with “Oh My.” I was feeling myself and thinking, Oh, I’m good, but now this time around I know I just gotta keep working, keep my head down and do whatever I gotta do.
Speaking of the batch of records, can you share any of the other ones you got coming?
I got this record called “Violence” with my dude Masego, which is probably one of my favorite songs right now.
Westside Gunn and Conway are another Shady act that’s gotten huge buzz. Are there any plans to collaborate with them in the future?
Yeah, I’m sure. They’re my guys. The first time I met them, they gave me weed. I needed to get some weed, they gave me weed, didn’t charged me, that’s forever my guy. He a real one, shout out to the Griselda Gang.
Shady is known for giving their artists a lot of creative control and freedom. How do you plan to push the boundaries of your music and visuals even further knowing you have that artistic license?
It’s just about not being scared to take chances with different sounds, different melodies, different flows. You can get caught in a box doing what works for you and just continue to do that and you don’t grow and I don’t want that to be me. I can easily get comfortable and do what works for Boogie and keep doing those same type of songs, but I wanna push myself. I gotta push myself.
Shady has had a mixed track record when it comes to producing star solo talent. Did the label’s legacy as a whole and how it can help your solo career play into your decision?
Yeah, definitely. I see what he did with 50 [Cent] like you just said, I want that feeling. I feel like we can do that with the roster we got and, shit, hopefully it happens.
How would you describe the energy in the building with all of the fresh talent on Shady?
It’s super exciting. It’s like a team now starting from the beginning again. It’s exciting.
You’ve released a few critically acclaimed mixtapes over the past few years, so an album is obviously the next step. Do you have any timetable for when the public can expect that?
I’m looking, like, first quarter [of 2018] for me. That’s what I’m hoping, but I’ll definitely be done by then. But if everything around it falls in place then it’ll definitely happen.
Do you have a title yet?
No Title is the title. I’m just playing, I ain’t got no title.
How much of the album would you say you’ve got completed thus far?
I got like a bunch of songs, so it all depends on what songs we keeping and what songs we drop. I could really give an album today, but who knows, we always making songs.
Will Eminem be working with you closely on this album?
I’m sure he’ll be involved. I can’t call it, what’s gonna happen or where I’ma be at, but I’m sure he’ll be involved.
What are some of the themes or vibes you plan on touching on for this album?
My insecurities, growth, just the position I’m at in life. It’s always changing. I’m in a way different place than I was when I made Thirst 48 Pt. II last year. I was, like, super in love and now it’s just like a breakup project and I’m in a different space now, a little darker.
Fans are familiar with your music, but you’re still building your story and narrative to where listeners know who you are beyond the music. How do you plan on going about letting people know more about your personality and who you are as a person?
I think it’s me opening up more on social medias. I always try to be super ducked off and stay to myself but I know fans wanna connect to me and see what I’m doing daily. So that’s probably something I gotta work on.
Who are some of the artists you’ve been in the studio with as of late?
I been solo. I’ve been with my same squad. I just been chilling, same vibe, solo with the homies in the studio.
So the projects gonna be mainly you with no features?
Nah, we gonna have some features. Who knows what it’ll be yet. I don’t know yet. I’m really focused on getting our side of it done first and then we’ll figure it out after.
As far as the production on the album, do you plan on going with your in-house guys or do you plan on getting some outside production as well?
I’ma be working with a lot of everybody. My in-house producers is probably gonna have a lot of it on there, but I’m definitely open to working with a bunch of different people. I been getting beats from everywhere and recording over a bunch of people beats.
With the Shady machine behind you, are there any big-name producers you want to get in the studio with moving forward?
Production-wise, I mean, [Dr.] Dre of course. It sounds cliche, but that’s like every West Coast rapper’s dream, to be in the studio with Dre. Outside of that, I don’t really care. Whoever got the fire beats, I’m with it. Like, it’s nobody specifically I’m chasing. If I hear somebody got a fire beat at the time, I’ll try to have somebody try to set it up.
How will this album differ from your previous projects?
Yeah, I’m just trying to rap more this time around. The last time I was pushing myself as far as melody-wise and I think a lot of people forgot that I really be snapping. So this time around, I wanna make sure I do a little more rapping, but still keep the melodies there. And outside of that just natural growth ’cause we working every day, so I’m naturally gonna get better. My shit fire now.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far in your journey as an artist?
I think it’s speaking up about stuff. I got a real problem with, like, holding stuff in. Like moves we made I feel like I shouldn’t have made and I could’ve spoke up and I didn’t. So I think this time around it’s just me speaking up to the people around me.
With 2018 right around the corner, what can the fans expect from you during the fourth quarter and beyond?
Just to see Boogie, more music, more videos. Not gonna be sitting around for a year like I feel we did before, waiting to drop a project. We just gonna keep the continuous vibes coming. That’s about it.
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