It’s been two whole decades since Gangsta Boo first got started in the Rap game. Memphis born, Boo came up with the legendary Three 6 Mafia and would find her way back to the team again years later as part of Da Mafia 6ix. Now she’s doing her own thing, having just released Witch with La Chat and preparing for a heavily electronic project in the near future. Gangsta Boo isn’t your ordinary rapper, let alone woman. Her “No Fucks Given” stance echoes from her personality, to her music, and it’s probably the reason why Hip Hop heads and other music fans alike find her so captivating. Over countless mojitos, Gangsta Boo discusses her long history in Hip Hop and what she’s learned along the way.
Did you have any idea you’d have this longevity? You’re 20 years deep in Hip Hop now.
Yeah, ya know I never even thought about it until a few years ago. I was like, ‘Oh shit! This is my career for real’.
What was the environment like coming up in Tennessee?
I’m from a middle class family that kind of moved to the hood after my parents divorced, so I had the best of both worlds. It’s just Memphis. It’s ratchet.
When did you first realise that women were treated differently in Hip Hop than men?
Man, I realise that every day. It’s an ongoing experience. Men are more chauvinistic than they even know, really. I’ve had to go through certain things where I’ve had to push a titty up or two to get things done, whereas a man doesn’t. He can just scratch his balls and shake hands with a CEO to get his deal signed.
That sounds like you can use sex as a weapon…
How do you respond to men — from executive to artist — who come onto you?
Depends on who it is… But sometimes it’s not about how they approach you physically. Sometimes there’s a lot of mental abuse behind the scenes. I walk away from that shit, so if you don’t see me around some shit, just know there’s some mental abuse going on.
“I’ve had to push a titty up or two to get things done, whereas a man doesn’t. He can just scratch his balls and shake hands with a CEO to get his deal signed.”
How do you know how to identify that?
I study psychology; I self-educate myself all the time. My ex-boyfriend was a sociopath, and he used to do a bunch of shit that I’d wonder what the fuck it was. Then I told a friend of mine, and she was like, ‘Lola, he sounds like a sociopath’. Once I researched it, it was so him. It was like his picture was next to the definition. I just started studying a bunch of stuff, learning things about myself.
I like that.
Hell yeah, girl, I’m a smart muthafucker. A lot of people think rappers aren’t smart. You’d be surprised. A lot of them are dumb though.
It feels like Southern rappers get underestimated more though.
That’s very true, but that’s why the South stays winning. They play a sucker to catch a sucker.
When you first started was it to define your own direction without men defining it for you?
There was none of that. I always came across exactly how I wanted to come across. They might’ve added a couple of suggestions, but I’ve always pretty much had creative control. I was speaking more from a “Little Woman, Big Man” type of situation. But I’ve always had creative control.
What was it like being the only female in your crew?
Fun, because I got to watch all the other girls want the guys that I’d be around everyday. I was like, ‘Urgh, you want THEM’? But then there were times when I was so tired of being around them that I need to be around some girls. I’m over them. I don’t wanna be around men everyday all day.
I heard Crunchy Black bought you your first gun as a teenager…
He gave it to me. I don’t think he bought it. It was either a .38 or a .357. I don’t really remember. We were some badass kids. It wasn’t to kill anyone, but I guess kill or be killed. Actually it was definitely the .357 because I didn’t get the .38 until later, and I remember when I got the .357 it was loaded. I shot it a couple of times in the air, and it was the hardest thing I ever did. The .38, I never even kept bullets in it. I don’t like guns. I’m not even gonna sit here and lie to you. Because I’m fuckin’ crazy, so I could fuckin’ snap and be in jail. The First 48 type shit.
You’ve never been one to compete with other women in this industry. Is it because you don’t care about competition?
Yeah not at all. I don’t care about anything unless it’s my immediate family, my money, and my boyfriend at the time. I just look at this music shit as just fun. Female rappers aren’t my competition for one, because there ain’t a lot of them out here that’s worthy of it. Nicki Minaj might be the only one, and we’re so different that I don’t even look at her as competition because I can eat her up in some areas, and she can eat me up in some areas. That’s just truth be told. I know how to ride the fuck out of a Southern beat because I’m a Southern rapper. [Nicki] knows how to do her fuckin’ thing. Everybody is different, I don’t view it as a competitive sport. I’d rather compete against these dudes. I don’t really watch these bitches.
You’re unique in the sense that men aren’t afraid to admit they’re Gangsta Boo fans.
Yeah, I agree. I think it’s from being from the land of Three 6. Coming behind Juicy J and DJ Paul, it definitely helped. I cannot lie no matter what’s happened, Juicy J and DJ Paul, Three 6 Mafia helped mould Gangsta Boo — not character, but brand in a sense where I was heard so many times on songs with them. Men got so used to hearing my voice that they were eager to hear it because it was like, ‘Oh shit! Y’all hear this bitch? She’s snappin’, she ain’t talkin’ about a bunch of girly shit. She talkin’ about yo let’s ride, let’s pop the trunk, let’s smoke this blunt, let’s get this money’. They can relate to shit like that.
It was rumored that back when you took some time off from the spotlight, you found God.
That was like in 2001. I was young, like 21, when I did that. I had been in the game since I was like 14. I was 18 when Where Dem Dollas At? dropped, so there was just a lot of shit going on in the music industry that I needed a break from. There was a lot of shit going on in my personal life. I was on ecstasy pills, a lot of shit. I felt like I was getting depressed, I was crying a lot. There was a lot of shit going on within my circle that I didn’t like. I felt like I was getting sabotaged within my own camp. I felt like my only source of peace was religion. I later found it was more spirituality. I don’t really have to dabble in religion. I got so much insight from so many different things, that I don’t really want to categorise myself with one religious cult.
"I don’t care about anything unless it’s my immediate family, my money, and my boyfriend at the time. I just look at this music shit as just fun."
Speaking of cults, ever since you dropped your Witch project and have been making “witchy” references, people have wondered if you’re a pagan now.
Basically someone who practices witchcraft...
Oh. Nice. I like to create that mystique around me. If that scares people, then turn on the TV. There’s a lot scarier shit going on in the news than a girl tweeting or hashtagging “Have a witchy day!” Turn on CNN and watch that little whiteboy who knifed up and stabbed everybody at a school.
Let’s talk about your move into dance music.
My DJ, Speakerfoxxx, she inspired me a lot to do it. I wanna try it; I’m into it. I love being around happy people. I love watching festivals. I performed at one, TomorrowWorld, with Speakerfoxxx. Her boyfriend Daniel is Disaster from Heroes X Villains. I’ve always been in tune with other music outside of Rap. Alternative Rock, EDM, I just wanna work with different people and try different things. When I got put up on the RL Grime and the Steve Aoki, I got real intrigued. Going to TomorrowWorld was one of the best experiences of my fuckin’ life. It blew my mind. It intrigues me, and I’m part of that world. Those same little fuckin’ DJs that are playing at these festivals with 100,000 people, they Gangsta Boo fans too. They know about Three 6, so when they hear I wanna do some shit like this, they’re like, ‘Oh shit’! In some shape, form or fashion, I’ve inspired them or my sound inspired them. So why not work with them?
You’ve never been one to name drop clothing lines in your rhymes.
I got that from Mia X. She was like, ‘People like us because we don’t shop in our raps’. A lot of these bitches is gold diggers, and I’m not. They don’t know better.
How would you describe your personal style?
Really chill. Super hippie. If I could wear a flower in my hair everyday, I would. I definitely wear a lot of black though. Stuff showing my figure, like my legs or something. My style is that I can dress like a tomboy one day, and then wear a dress the next day. I don’t have one style. Thank God I’m not a glamour girl for Christ’s sake because that shit is expensive. I could throw on some Chucks and some fuckin’ jeans and a t-shirt and be gone and look good. Then I could take off those Chucks and put on some ankle boots and still be gone, I don’t have to get into the whole couture thing. I’m not knockin’ that because that shit is amazing. I would love to work with designers, but it’s not gonna make or break me if I don’t.
So let’s look at what you’re wearing right now. You’re dressed in all black, and you’ve got the iced out skull necklace, bamboo earrings with the red roses in them.
Yeah, at least they’re red. They’re not black. [laughs] I’m not a ‘pagan’!