The Artist in A-Boogie Wit Da Hoodie
Proving time and time again to be a star power we can all see ourselves in, with his added verification, “...this shit is crazy, because I’m deadass a normal person,” maybe A-Boogie’s success isn’t solely reliant on his ability to curate a highly specialized voice or his attention-worthy hooks. Maybe it can be chalked up to the profound fact that the masses can relate and trust him to convey messages felt by an entire generation.
Tell me a bit about your earliest musical memory.
I remember hearing this Michael Jackson song pretty young that made my mom cry.
It went something like, “I treated you bad.” It’s called “Who’s Lovin’ You.”
So who were you inspired by growing up? Any New York artists?
It was mostly people in New York, but as the era has moved on, it became everybody—everybody got a chance to shine. I know someone from Australia now, and I think they’re about to become pretty big in America. And that’s a whole 20 hours away from here! His name is Laroi, shout out to him.
Do you think your music has adapted from your inspirations, or are you in your own lane?
Music is a cycle. I’m not gonna say I copy, but I will say that I do get influence from certain artists that I grew up on. And nowadays, I just try to find new sounds. Ultimately, that’s why I always say I have my own sound, because I’m constantly trying to find something new. I know how the game works, people that follow behind the current era are gonna sound like this era a bit, because it’s hard to hit that target. For example, Lil Uzi. No one can sound like him if you think about it. People can try to use his voice a little bit, but that’s his style, and only one person can do that.
I read that you would rap at lunchtime back in school, is this true?
I wasn’t really performing. I was just having fun—banging on the table, freestyling. Everybody would get in the cypher and take turns.
Were those early thoughts of you thinking you wanted to make a living out of this?
I always dreamed of it. You know how you always think of something like, “damn, imagine?” It was one of those things, and you never really think it will happen. Because there’s so many rappers in New York, DC, Atlanta. Out of all those millions of rappers who are trying to be that one rapper, you’re like, “Damn, I can’t do it.” But then some people just go with it, because they’re talented, and you can’t stop talent.
So what made you want to keep going?
I saw the talent in myself. I knew I was going to make it. I had to really practice my craft to get to the level I’m at right now, and I’m still working on it. I always had a low voice—it isn’t really a singing voice, but I made it my own. I call it rapping with a melody.
Well it’s clearly been working well for you. I know you’re really well-known for collaborating—and the younger generation, especially within New York, definitely isn't afraid of working together. Do you think you’ve benefited as an artist being apart of this current generation?
It became a big advantage. Me and my manager were actually just talking about this in the car. This era has a head start if you compare it back to the Jay-Z era. They were selling CDs, and it wasn't hitting like streaming, or other ways you can more easily make money off music now. So we have a big head start, and imagine how that will change in the next 10 years. I feel like somebody like me could be a billionaire in half the time. Everything is speeding up. And you can see it in the stock market too.
I know you recently had a daughter, congrats! Which of your own songs do you sing to her?
I like to sing the hook to “Come Closer.” She likes that one, but she likes hard songs too.
What’s one thing you’ve learned since becoming a father?
When it comes to being a father, you learn how to balance yourself. Not even yourself—your family. You understand that you’re not just doing stuff for yourself anymore, it’s for your family. Your life becomes more valuable, because you want to leave your kid better than you were.
You recently instagrammed a picture with the caption, “I wish I was regular.”
Yeah, it’s a song I just made. It’s my new project—nobody would know though. You know when you want to talk about something, but you just keep holding it in?
Yeah, of course.
That’s one of those songs where I kind of just started venting and going back and forth. I never like to stay on one topic, especially when it comes to love songs. If it’s too lovey-dovey, I can’t listen to it.
Love isn’t all good parts anyway. It’s compromise and work.
Yup, I know that.
Tell me one thing that I don’t know about.
It’s a lot of things, but one thing? I don’t like to tie my shoes. I just slide them on. I don’t like that big bowtie look.
*Looks down at my tied-up sneakers*
So, what’s one thing about the music industry that surprised you?
You know how you see a person on TV as a kid, and you meet them? And then you learn, “Oh shit, this is actually a real person.” Now, I always have flashbacks to times like that, and I look at where I am now, and I’m really in their shoes. It’s hard to still think about how it feels in my own shoes.
What is that feeling like?
It’s a big accomplishment. It makes me want more, to become the best in the world. Imagine becoming the best in your lane, in your era.
What for you would mean being the “best”?
I don’t look at the most popular—I look at the numbers. I like numbers.
Tell me a bit about the creative process on Hoodie SZN.
A lot of artists have the same process, in a way. Everybody freestyles now. Freestyling isn’t freestyling anymore. You just go off the top. But when you get the bar, you can just try it over and over again. It’s easy now, because you can fix your mistakes, and people gotta realize that. A lot of people will just make a song and not pay attention to the actual quality.
Are you obsessed about each piece of the puzzle when you make a song?
Every word. I make sure every word is heard, and if not, it’s for a reason.
You have a lot of amazing features on the album. Who was the most interesting person to collaborate with?
These dudes be interesting. I ain’t gonna lie, this shit is crazy, because I’m deadass a normal person. I’m not too normal though, I be doing weird shit.
What are you listening to right now?
Nah, Uzi and I have like seven songs I’ve been listening to lately. We just made them, but I’ve been listening to them all day.
Which is your favorite?
We did a reggaeton-type beat, and people won’t expect it. That’s why it’s fire.
If you could return to one time in your life, not to re-do it but just to relive it, where would you return?
There’s not too much shit I would go back to—I was bad back then. If i didn't move from New York to Florida for the rest of my high school years, I wouldn't be here. I’m good moving forward.
My next step is to show people instead of telling them.