Is Boosie Badazz bigger than Jesus? In a new documentary, a fan likens the rapper (formerly known as Lil Boosie) and his release from prison to the Second Coming.
“That made me nervous. It surprised me,” Boosie laughed, deflecting the comparison. “A lot of love I got when I came home surprised me, [but] Jesus back? No.” Perched on a director’s chair at the midtown offices of Atlantic Records last night, the Louisianan rapper shared the first installment of Touch Down 2 Cause Hell, the five-part doc set to be released April 28 on WorldStarHipHop, and tracks from his forthcoming album of the same name (out May 26), for journalists, bloggers, and industry cognoscenti. “I’ve been through a lot,” he said.
Boosie may not see himself as the Messiah, but hip-hop’s love for him often borders on religious fervor. In 2011, the ascendant MC — most known for 2007’s breakout track “Wipe Me Down” — was sentenced to eight years in prison for a drug conviction and probation violation. Prior to that, he was incarcerated on first-degree murder charges and facing life in prison (he was eventually found not guilty). When Boosie was released in 2014, it was damn near a national holiday in hip-hop. Fans, journalists, and executives from Atlantic Records flew down to New Orleans to watch him sit on a literal throne and address his subjects in a press conference, while millions of us stayed home and watched the livestream.
Boosie has always been a largely parochial artist, beloved by Southern rap aficionados, and to outsiders, the pomp and circumstance may be strange. All this for a guy without overwhelming exposure or commercial success, whose biggest record — released eight years prior — barely cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard charts? But those people don’t get it. You can’t define Boosie by sales or radio spins. He transcends bullshit music-industry metrics with a truly visceral connection with the streets. The people fuck with Boosie. The people love him.
That’s why Boosie is releasing a 22-track album of music for his diehard loyalists. Thematically, there’s no shortage of the streetwise offerings we’ve come to expect, complete with heavy bass and menacing beats. The first single, “Retaliation” (produced by newcomer London on da Track), is a grimacing rattler about methodically making your enemy disappear. “Imma set it off in the muthafucka/I’m going ham with an AK,” Boosie snarls. “I ride for my niggas. I’ll die for my niggas/We searching for blood.” Both “Intro” and “Mr. Miyagi” are rowdy bangers as well. In the latter, the rapper touts this as “murder man music” and gives a nod to The Karate Kid with a “wax on, wax off” reference. As for whether he’s worried his gun references and violent name-checks will prove problematic as an ex-felon (in 2012, lawyers threatened to use his lyrics against him), Boosie assured master of ceremonies Sway Calloway, “I’m not guilty. I ain’t doing nothing wrong.”
The album does tread into the introspective, and the rapper reflects on his time behind bars. “Black Heaven” (featuring Keyshia Cole) is a retrospective on deceased icons like Malcolm X and James Brown, inspired by Nas’s “Thugz Mansion,” while closer “Sorry” is a long letter to the women in his life whom Boosie feels he’s let down, including his mother and daughters. “Mama, I’m sorry for putting you through so much,” he sings in the opening, as she tries to assuage his guilt.
Touch Down 2 Cause Hell is a street album, and as such, Boosie shared that he’s not actively angling for new fans. Still, by selecting features like Chris Brown on the love rap “She Don’t Love Me” and upstarts Rich Homie Quan on “Like a Man” and Young Thug for “On Deck,” the rapper shows that he’s not altogether alienating fresh listeners, either. He just wants the opportunity to win you over. “Just gimme a chance,” he said. “It’s my best album. Period.”