"This world will take your dream from you quick if you don't stay locked in," Boogie says on a cold day in Lower Manhattan. He is referring to a lesson intended for his young son, but it comes from personal experience. For five years, the Compton representative has been persistently pushing the line with his art. The MC and singer who
used a student loan to purchase recording equipment has transcended from reaching out to blogs for posts to signing with Shady Records and going bar-for-bar with Eminem. In 2019, his dream seems to be manifesting in real-time
Boogie has already released one of 2019's best albums so far in the form of Everything's For Sale. It marks the Compton, California representative's first drop with Eminem's label and his first time on the charts. Twenty-nine-year-old Anthony Dixson is a different kind of act on the Shady roster. Although a cutting lyricist, Boogie's music
also offers melodic deliveries in many places. His sound and style pull from the church and Southern California's gangland, in a cohesive way. On the microphone, Boogie shuns the cheap maneuvers so many rappers seem to rely on. He speaks his mind, confronts aspects of his personal life, and makes no bones about wishing to be remembered as a great. Although the presentation is quite different, the approach is not unlike that of Marshall Mathers some 20 years ago.
In speaking with AFH TV, Boogie unpacks the messages found on Everything's For Sale. Along the way, he discusses his career, and his views about parenthood as well as love. He also details an emphasis on writing the kinds of songs that not only make him so easy to listen to, but someone that is relatable to so many.
Before joining Shady in 2017, Boogie existed without the kind of cosigns that many emerging artists seem to seek and rely on. While he admits that he no longer cares, the MC notes, "It was irritating at a point for me, 'cause I felt like I was working so hard but was getting ignored. But I'm realizing that confirmation from another rapper or another man, period, that don't define success. That's just
some stuff that was all just in my head. So now I don't need they cosign, 'cause they're competition at the end of the day." By 2016, veterans and peers took notice. Boogie appeared on songs and projects by hometown heroes such as The Game, DJ Quik & Problem, as well as fellow sensation Buddy.
Now, Boogie's latest single, "Rainy Days," features Eminem's first music of 2019. Asked how Shady's founder discovered his music, Boogie says, "I have no idea." Like Yelawolf, he was an Interscope Records act before inking with Shady. The label distributed some of Boogie's prior releases including 2016's Thirst 48 Part II. "I think [Eminem's] manager, Paul [Rosenberg] got wind of me, maybe from the 'Ni**a Needs' video, 'cause Rihanna posted [it on Instagram]. I'm just guessin'; I have no idea. I just got a call one day that Em was interested. Then I was in Detroit like a day or two later." Ahead of the 2017 Shady cypher for the BET Hip Hop Awards, Boogie showcased his skills alongside Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher, following Eminem's blockbuster political freestyle. Royce 5'9, who later put Boogie on 2018's "Dumb," watched in the background.
On "Rainy Days," Boogie begins his verse: "So word to my idols and word to the GOATs / I ain't sayin' I like 'em, I'd kill all them ni**as, and wear 'em as coats." He reflects on those bars. "At the end of the day, I'm not tryin' to be nobody's little homie. That's just me tellin' y'all I'm on your head; you can get the same sh*t that everybody else gettin'." AFH TV asks Boogie about the lyrics' context, given the collaboration. "Yeah, he changed my life; he put me in front of 80,000 people. I'm signed to him; that's the big dog. He's one of the greatest rappers of all time, if not the greatest. But my purpose in life isn't to be second to nobody at the end of the day; my purpose is to be bigger than Eminem, bigger than anybody else who wants to step in my way." Moments later, Boogie acknowledges that JAY-Z is his favorite MC. In addition to the "Renegade" MCs, he says he considers J. Cole, Tupac, and Kendrick Lamar to also be in that elite class.
In terms of Hip-Hop, Boogie also provides his definition for "Real Rap," a term that can mean different things to different people. "[It means] honesty, emotions, and just not trying to avoid the fact that you're human and you've got real feelings. That's what it means to me." In looking at his evolution as an MC, Boogie notes, "I think sometimes I just need to learn how to come off more subtle. I think if
I want people to be open to what I'm saying I need to not be so aggressive when I'm doin' it." For an artist who regularly bemoans personas "on social," he later admits he had to learn to put himself on display. "If you want to have change in the world and more impact, when you show people that you're just like them, it's easier for them to accept it so people know that I go through sh*t too."
While Boogie reps Compton, he was born in Los Angeles and raised in Long Beach. During adolescence, his mother got him involved with a church in the Hub City. While the move was intended to clean up his act, it became a pivot to the streets. "The church is the reason I started gang-banging. I wouldn't have been in Compton in the first
place if it wasn't for this church, 'cause I wasn't born in Compton," he says. On his 2019 album's artwork, Boogie is dressed in a red suit, carrying a casket outside of the church with red doors. "Everybody from that church just happened to be from this neighborhood. So after church, I was always in Compton streets. Just transitioning to that it was a super easy transition. The crazy thing about Compton, church and
gang-banging, they go hand-in-hand. I don't know why. It's a dark thing though." Like past collaborators Quik and Game, that affiliation also sticks with artists for life.
After becoming integrated with the CPT streets, Boogie's musical direction changed from Gospel Rap to songs covering all aspects of his life. "I had to tell what I was really goin' through in life. [I was not] just goin' through Christian wars. I was really goin' through street battles, and you can't really talk about that in church. I had to talk about what I was goin' through, like the gang-bangin' stuff. It just
started happening like that."
While it may have introduced him to gang affiliation, Sunday services also contributed to his musicality. "That's 100% from the church choir and me listening to R&B all day." He notes that Lauryn Hill, Brandy, and Usher also reinforced those interests.
Carson, California's Reason is another artist who has worked across gang boundaries and neighborhoods. Boogie, Reason, and J.I.D. have developed a friendship as three artists with similar principles. "People always put us in a box together, me, J.I.D., and Reason," notes Boogie. Besides Em, Dreamville's J.I.D. is a standout guest on
Everything's For Sale video single "Soho.". He appears on "We [all are] rappin', and not like on some corny back-packer stuff, but we got substance, concepts, and stuff like that—not sayin' other people don't. [People hear] similar vibes I feel like, even though we all rap so different. J.I.D. rap way faster than me. 'Cause I got a lisp, I can't rap that fast. Reason's super punchline-head-ass, like I tell him all the time. I got more melodies than both of them. They're my
Elsewhere in the discussion, Boogie explains why he is intent on winning a Grammy. He also discusses the value in finding a partner who embraces flaws, and the importance of his son.