Ka – 30 Keys
Boosie Badazz – Smile to Keep from Crying
If I didn’t know better, I’d think rappers I listen to actually read this blog! Last May you could catch me lamenting the new directions of the Boosie sound since he re-emerged from prison no longer “Lil'”, but somewhat unconvincingly “Badazz”. Fresh off of reading Diary of a Madman I was drawing mad parallels between his and Scarface’s careers when they were first given big label time and money to produce a project, resulting in very polished but emotionally lackluster final products.
Today Boosie gave me an easy way to kick off my New Years Resolution to keep active on this writing shit with the aptly titled In My Feelings. It’s like he put together a perfect 10-song response to every element in that previous post. Every ounce of emotion and urgency that I missed on Touch Down 2 Cause Hell has been delivered tenfold on this newest offering. This is the kind of Boosie that you can sit down and listen to with your eyebrows up and your mouth agape trying to keep the tears from falling. For maximum cherry-on-topness in relating to my critique, he even rocks an ill Scarface cadence on the “Warning Signs” chorus. Spooky!
Boosie Badazz – Warning Signs
My favorite logical fallacy is the fallacy fallacy – which assumes the conclusion of an argument is false because the arguments used to support it are logically flawed, when in actuality a conclusion can be completely true even if all of the evidence and arguments that are given as support are wrong. Allow me to illustrate with and ESG song.
ESG – Don’t Touch My Car
The argument goes like this:
Combining “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” and “The Message” is a terrible idea.
Therefore, “Don’t Touch My Car” is not a good song.
NOT TRUE! Even though those songs have no business getting twisted up together like they do in this track, the result is somehow undeniably great. Cedric raps his ass off on that grimy Daz ripoff beat, evoking both Scarface and Pimp C and even anticipating Boosie a little bit but still sounding perfectly like himself doing what ESG does best – keeping your attention through every verse with dexterous wordplay and enthralling delivery. There’s even a weird Queen reference thrown into the mix midway through verse 2, another seemingly poor idea executed perfectly to dispel any lingering doubt that a piece of art could be more than the sum of its parts. It’s a good thing no rapper will ever run a song concept by me before executing it because I would have scrapped “Don’t Touch My Car” before they even plugged in the drum machine.
A couple weeks ago I was taken aback when the homie at Rap Music Hysteria! brought up some concerns he had about the new directions in Boosie’s post-incarceration output. I’m usually skeptical about comebacks of any kind, it’s too easy for even the most gifted artists to lose the magic when there is a break in their creative flow, but everything I’d heard from Boosie since he completed his sentence showed promise. I remember watching the “Show the World“ video when it first came out and before verse one I could tell he wasn’t the same man – dark, sunken eyes, prison yard muscles inflating a black sweatshirt that would have hung on old school Boosie like a muumuu, and a facial expression somehow even more resigned yet hopeless than before his penitentiary stint, even when he smiled.
As the music continued to flow, it was clear that Boosie’s transformation was not skin-deep, and I welcomed the new developments with excitement and respect. He was doing what so few rappers are able to do – age with grace. He hadn’t abandoned on his old style, but he didn’t resign himself to it to the point of awkward self-imitation. Sure the music was less fun than his younger material, but I would have been more concerned if it was. As people mature, I expect them to become interested in more mature subjects. In place of the levity (to use my man’s term) of old Boosie was a captivating sense of fervency and fortitude that I found just as compelling as his previous (relative) lightheartedness. As far as I could tell he was doing exactly what a 32 year old rapper should be doing: taking what he’d learned from his youth and distilling it into a new creative fuel that could sustain a whole second wind of quality material free from the self conscious style-morphing or played-out drudgery so often found with rappers in his age group.
So when I read homie’s post I wanted to stick up for Boosie, I thought everything was rosy! Then I listened to the song he posted from his then forthcoming post-prison debut album and I was suddenly much less confident in my opinion. I’m even less confident now that Touch Down 2 Cause Hell is on the shelves. I’d hoped that “All I Know” wouldn’t be representative of the album as a whole, just a tinge of grandiose accessibility insinuated among 18 tracks rooted in the grounded intensity that Boosie has always excelled at. But the homie’s concerns have proven valid. There seems to be a clear shift toward appealing to a more mainstream demographic in this effort; the production flashy, reverby, and polished, the features seem to be chosen by either hot-right-now standards (Young Thug, Quan) or established-name standards (Jeezy, Rick Ross, TI, Chris Brown) and not by who would actually be a good compliment to his style (even the two Webbie features feel like they were done out of some sense of obligation than any real chemistry between the two), and, as Si Mane Price points out, there is a total lack of regional identity on this album, which has always been one of Boosie’s strong points.
Boosie Badazz – Spoil You (feat. T.I.)
I just finished Scarface’s new book and he talked about how making The Fix was such a liberating experience for him: he got a fat advance before sessions even started, he was working with a label he’d respected his whole life (Def Jam), he had “the best beats, the best studios, and the best engineers at my disposial”, he could spend “thirty or fifty grand on one track” if he wanted, he worked with all the hot producers of the time (The Neptunes, Kanye West), he almost got a damn Stevie Nicks feature on “In Between Us“. Everything was luxuriously presented to him like a casino buffet and he got to record a whole album feeling fully supported and free. But The Fix is not Scarface’s best album. I’d take The Diary over it any day, and it’s interesting to hear him talk about his process in making that album:
There was never a moment where we sat down and said, This album is going to be this, this, and this, and it’s going to fuck motherfuckers’ heads up for real! It was never like that with us. We just knew I was cold, N.O. Joe and Mike Dean and my uncle Eddie were cold, and all of the musicians that we brought in to work with us were bad motherfuckers. I’d get fucked up and record and see what came of it and then take that and see what we could do with it.
The process shows though heavily on both of these albums, for better and for worse. The Fix was recorded in an upper echelon New York studio and it fucking sounds like it. The Diary was recorded at his house with his friends and it fucking sounds like it. I’m sure the process for The Fix was more enjoyable for him, but it did not result in better music.
Touch Down 2 Cause Hell is Boosie’s The Fix, and while I’m happy that both of these extremely talented artists reached a level of success where they can create in the lap of luxury, the music definitely suffers. I don’t wish that Scarface had to always record on painkillers, Miller Lite, and pounds of weed because he’d recently broken his hand punching through a wall, and I don’t want Boosie’s process to be any more arduous, but isn’t there a way for these artists to have some room to breathe without them getting all self conscious and wanting to prove themselves as “great rappers” in some abstract sense? The journalists certainly aren’t helping. The Fix got 5 mics in The Source, and Touch Down 2 Cause Hell is receiving more favorable press from the mainstream rap media than any of his previous efforts. I’d like to think that Boosie just needed to get that album out of his system or prove a point before returning to his previous self-assured disposition, but I’ve watched too many rappers start down this road and discover that it’s one-way. As a human being, I’m happy Boosie has arrived at the comfort level he has earned, but as a rap fan I’m sad to see what I’ve always loved about him fade away.
For all the mamas.
Lil’ Boosie – Mama
Lil’ Boosie – Hands Up
I really wanted this new Boosie single to be a Bone Thugs reference but instead it’s a much more well-trod Big Pun/Lil’ Wayne/Rich Homie Quan/Ty$/etc. etc. reference.
Lil’ Boosie – Retaliation 
Ty$ – Stand For 
YG – My Nigga (feat. Rich Homie Quan & Young Jeezy) 
Lil’ Wayne – Ride 4 My Niggas 
Big Pun – Off Wit His Head (feat. Prospect) 
Both of these videos came out in the past week and it’s interesting how the artist and titles are just a couple syllables away from each other but COMPLETELY different in every other way.
Lil’ Wayne – Krazy
Lil’ Boosie – Crazy
Put away your “Free Boosie” shirts, pull out your “Trill Entertainment” shirts.
Lil’ Boosie – Show the World (feat. Webbie & Kiara)
Remember when Lil’ Boosie wrote that heartfelt letter to his fans from prison about not emulating him, but surpassing the level of conduct he’s practiced? Or the relief when it was revealed that whether or not Lil’ Boosie was found guilty for the murder charge he was facing, that the would not be facing the death penalty? Well after some surprising twists of fate in the courtroom over the past couple days, Lil’ Boosie has officially been found NOT GUILTY for the murder of Terry Boyd! WOOOO!!
Does that mean we’ll be getting the new Boosie album right away? Maybe so, maybe not. Boosie did already plead guilty to drug charges that will keep him behind bars for 8 years, but according to this article, part of the evidence seized in the murder trial was the hard drive from his computer which contains “albums for days”, so we just might be gettin’ some new tunes if the right people can get that hard drive back. We’ll just have to see. Worst case scenario, at least we’ll get a new Lil’ Boosie album in… 2020 or so? Better than having him locked up for life, which is what he was facing. Boosie’s gettin’ free!
Lil’ Boosie – Loose as a Goose (feat. Foxx & Mouse)