'No Questions About Lil B': A conversation with A. Boogie
I’ve been obsessing over A. Boogie Wit Da Hoodie for quite some time now. His trademarked sound (a natural yet unexpected blend of post-Drake era harmonies with gritty horror-core subject matter) has made him a fixture within hip hop’s emergent generation — the rare youngster who’s neither wholly resistant to nor blindly acceptant of old school practices. For this reason, I employed the Bronx-raised crooner as a centerpiece in my ode to New York hip hop last winter, and in February, I drove all the way to Columbus, OH for his concert (which turned out to be a lousy club walkthrough). I even eagerly anticipated the late September release of his debut album, The Bigger Artist, which enhanced production value and earned the number one spot on Billboard’s hip hop/R&B chart.
However, last week, when news began circulating that A. Boogie had physically attacked Lil B “THE BASED GOD” at Rolling Loud Music Festival, I consequently unfollowed him on multiple social media under an assumption that I would no longer be able to root for his success.
So, what was I to do when, on Sunday evening, I got offered a 10 minute phone conversation with A. Boogie in promotion of his upcoming concert in Detroit? I instinctively accepted then constructed a mental strategy in which I expected to transition from casual small talk to a more combative discussion about the BASED GOD. (“Shouts out to a boogie,” Lil B wrote on Twitter, publicly diffusing tensions after the altercation; “Is it really all love?” I imagined myself inquiring.)
This plan almost actualized too, until exactly two minutes prior to my Tuesday conversation with A. Boogie, when I received a confirmation from his team bearing exactly one condition: “Heads up has been given and no questions about LIL B,” the email read.
Immediately, I found myself navigating a journalistic semi-crisis, weighing the pros and cons of agitating a newly-platinum rapper who’s bragged of having “shooters beside (him).” Even whilst speaking with A. Boogie, I remained undecided on the issue and suppressant of my intrinsic desire to surge for the story. I was finally convinced not to, though, by A. Boogie’s genuine likability: Throughout our conversation, he displayed both a focused work-ethic and passionate belief in loyalty; he simultaneously presented the unapologetic attitude of a street-raised business bull (think Jay Z, one of his idols) aside the softer, calmer tone of a sweetheart big brother.
Who is A. Boogie? That remains up for interpretation (much like the circumstances that led to his controversy with Lil B). What’s known for certain, though, is that he won’t allow himself to be boxed in — not geographically, generationally or even by the “BASED GOD.”
You’ve had a wildly exciting year: Between the birth of your daughter in February to the recent release of your debut album, a lot of milestones have been crossed. How do you manage to stay grounded amidst such consistent growth?
I just keep positive people around me, I keep the same, same day ones around me, you feel me? And I just keep doing what I’m doing plus more. As long as you keep doing what you’re doing plus more, you always gonna succeed and be successful.
How did it feel to have The Bigger Artist debut as the number one album on Billboard’s R&B / Hip-Hop charts? Was that something you were striving for?
Yeah, man, that’s something I feel like, I checked it off my checklist and I’m on to the next one. Now, I’m trying to win a Grammy, feel me?
One of the album’s most deep-cutting songs is its introduction, “No Promises,” on which you rap: “Lifestyle getting out of control, lifestyle getting ludicrous / I made a mili in less than a year and I blew that on stupid shit.” What were some of the first things that you splurged on after initially becoming successful?
Man, some of the first things I bought, I went right to Avianne, copped mad ice, got my mom a crib, gave my mom some bread, I gave a lot of love to a lot of family when I first got money.
What’s different about being in New York City now, as a celebrity, versus being there before as a regular kid from the Bronx?
Man, being from New York City, first of all it’s hard coming out of NYC, making it though. So, I’m just, I feel like I could do a lot, just ‘cause I did that. It’s a blessing, you feel me, and I feel like I got that prince, I feel like I’m in that prince spot right now.
You told Complex that growing up, you rarely traveled out of Highbridge because: “The Bronx really don’t get along like that.” Is it all love everywhere when you go back now?
Yeah, I feel like that’s everywhere though. Like, when you go to Brooklyn, people in Brooklyn don’t get along with Brooklyn people, Bronx don’t get along with Bronx people, just cause like, you’re all too close to each other and everything I feel like though. It’s different.
As you head out on this world tour, headlining concerts in Europe and different countries, what are you most excited to see or do for the first time?
Um, I don’t really know, I’m just looking forward to learning new things and seeing new things, and knowing what the whole overseas thing is about. Everywhere you go is always different, so you never know what to expect … I’m excited to perform in London. I sold out in London.
Are we ever going to get those collab projects with Don Q or PnB Rock that you’ve been teasing?
Man, I’m good at those, but … I got everybody’s songs. I’m gonna release a whole bunch of music out of nowhere, so …
How did it feel to be a part of the XXL Freshman Class? Do you feel connected to that new wave in hip hop that’s emerging, or are you kind of like an old head within that crowd?
Nah, I still fuck with the old heads, but I fuck with my generation too. I’m learning. Like, my generation is still new to me, so I’m still learning new things about hip hop these days. That XXL part right there was just like, man … I’m glad I did that ‘cause my whole teenage life was just looking at the XXL (and) who was on it on the next year, on the next year … So, me being on it for last year was just a blessing bro.
You told Billboard that you’re considering going back to school. Would you ever consider coming here, to the University of Michigan? I can give you a tour if you need.
Who knows? Who knows where I end up man, you’ll probably catch me somewhere in the cut with a hoodie.