Photo by Nick Gazin
Gangsta Boo is hip-hop legend. As the sole female member of the epochal Three 6 Mafia during the late 90s and early 2000s, she helped forge a space for females in hardcore rap, with aggressive rhymes on classic records like Choices: The Album, When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1, and her solo debut Enquiring Minds. I've been listening to Gangsta Boo since I was a kid, and she always fascinated me—and scared me a little. As a prepubescent horndog, I loved bumping girl rappers who talked about explicit sex shit because it was perfect fodder for my wankbank. But Boo never played herself like that for her male listeners. Even when her verses started off sexy, they ended defiant—like "Tongue Ring," which begins with her "pussy wet as a river" and ends with her using a razor blade to horrifically "slice yo' shit." There's no beating off to that. You just have to respect it, because the rhymes are hard as hell.
I had the rare pleasure of meeting Boo at my 25th-birthday party thrown by VICE's funny-book tsar and DJ extraordinaire Nick Gazin. Boo and I hit it off talking about what's great and what sucks bloody AIDS-infected penises in modern hip-hop. As agressive as her raps are, one thing that struck me about her was how genial and graceful she was. She reminded me of the ladies who offer you a candy when you sit next to them in church when you're a little kid. Basically, Gangsta Boo is a hardcore rapping saint.
I think she embodies a lot of what is desperately missing in the rap game right now. So, I invited her to the VICE offices in Brooklyn to continue our discussion of hip-hop, by sitting together and watching some music videos by some of the hottest lady rappers out today. Here's what she had to say:
AZEALIA BANKS'S "212"
VICE: You’ve seen this before?
Gangsta Boo: A couple of times.
What do you think of it?
She’s pretty, and she is representing for the brown-skinned ladies. I like that. She’s got an international vibe too. I don’t know too many of her songs to be honest, but I do like this one.
What do you think about the style of the video?
It’s black-and-white, and it has a retro feel to it. It’s simple. It focuses on her teeth a lot. She’s got some pretty teeth. It’’s cute, it’s basic. It’s one of those classic New York videos.
When you were working with Three 6 Mafia, was New York a hard place for you guys to break into?
Were there any female NYC MCs you looked up to?
Yeah, Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown... Rah Digga—she’s not from New York, but she is East Coast or whatever. I’m not an Azealia Banks fan, but I love how she uses “cunt” in this song. A strong a black female saying cunt is kind of ratchet.
IGGY AZALEA'S "MY WORLD"
You know she’s from Australia or something?
Really? I had no idea. She doesn’t rap like it. She doesn’t have an accent or anything. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but she’s definitely sexy and fly. She’s got swag for days and she knows how to work it in this video.
Do you think it’s weird for somebody to take on a different place’s twang—like her sounding like she’s from the States?
Nah. I’m a fan of The Walking Dead and it's so weird how they all talk like they have an American accent, but they are actually all from Australia, London, and other places. Sometimes it’s believable, sometimes it’s not. This particular video is believable, but a lot of her music isn't. However, I do like this song
Do you feel like artists taking on other styles is part of the creative process? Or are there rules in hip-hop?
Absolutely. There should definitely be rules in hip-hop because there are G-code rules in the streets. It’s cool to have fun, but at the end of the day it would be wack for me to rap like I’m from New York. It is cool to get influences from other places, but I want everyone to know that I’m from Memphis.
KITTY PRYDE'S "OKAY CUPID"
Do you know Kitty Pryde?
I know her. We have a song together.
Oh really? Is it out, yet?
No, I haven’t put it out yet, but Nick Catchdubs did the beat. It’s called “Fool's Gold.”
What do you think of Kitty?
I like her because she’s poetic. You can tell she’s a writer and what she is talking about is very believable. I hang with white girls like her all the time.
When you were first coming up, was there a lot of white female MCs?
No, but they’re everywhere now. It’s like a flood of these little white bitches. That’s what’s up though. I think Kitty Pryde is dope. She’s got that TV-friendly face.
Speaking of Kitty’s writing style, how do you write?
I get inspired by different things that I go through. That’s why I like traveling to different cities and catching vibes. I like to get outside of Memphis and get inspired by other people and new scenery.
Do you write with a pen and a pad?
It depends. Sometimes I write on my phone, and sometimes I write on paper and sometimes I just go off the the top of my head.
WASH 'N' SET'S "PRIVATE PLAY"
I premiered this one on VICE.
Yeah, I only know about them because of you.
Do you like it?
To me, honestly, it’s wack. Everybody doesn’t need to rap, man. It is cute. But I can’t take them serious.
I think some younger rap artists feel like they can just have fun with the art form. But when you were coming up, more doors were closed to female MCs, so you guys had to go harder on the mic than the best male rappers.
Exactly. For me, this kind of stuff is offensive because I feel like they’re taking up space for somebody who takes it serious and is starving in a place where there are no opportunities. There’s a lane for this, and there’s a lane for real shit. I just stick to the real shit.
Damn. I like this song. Besides the rapping, do you at least dig the beat?
It reminds me of “It’s So Cold in the D.” It was like extra wack. But I would tear this beat up.
KILO KISH'S "NAVY"
What’s your take on Kish?
I think it’s nice that a lot of cute girls are rapping now, but I just don’t know if I would bump them personally. I would take this more serious at an open mic. I don’t consider these girls rappers.
You're saying she is trying to do something, but she hasn’t mastered her craft yet?
No, I think she’s mastered what she’s doing. I just don’t think she’s really rapping. It’s more poetic. My homegirl does poetry in Houston. I went to a few of her open mics and it sounded a lot like this. Not saying Kish couldn’t write a rap or be a dope MC, I just don’t think that’s what she trying to do and that is OK for her.
What do you think the line is between poetry and rap?
Rap to me is more aggressive, more in your face.
When was the first time you heard a girl rap with an aggressive flow that inspired you?
Da Brat. She was dope.
Probably “Funkdafied.” She was the first female MC to go platinum.
Did you ever feel like you had to be extra aggressive to get respect as a female MC?
I had to rap with, like, five different dudes, so I always had the mentality that I had to outdo everyone I was on a song with in order to stand out. I’m a girl in a man’s world, so I trained myself to always go harder than them. Period.
PINK DOLLAZ'S "BAD BITCH"
The concept is basic. I don’t consider myself a "bad bitch." I’m over that. The hook is wack too. But it does have a dope beat. I like the whole West Coast flow too. But the “bad bitch” concept throws me off. It’s just kind of tired of it. I don’t want my daughter calling herself a “bad bitch.” What does that even mean? I don’t have kids, but if my daughter said something like that, it better be because she is in school making good grades. Not because she has red bottoms. Being a bad bitch is fine, I’m just kinda over the materialistic aspect of it.
Do you think materialism is hurting rap right now?
Let’s get back to the music and less of this fashion stuff. It’s an expensive lifestyle to keep up with, and it’s all an illusion anyway. But hey, if you got it, rock that shit. I really can’t tell you what hip-hop needs today. People need to just stand out on their own and do them.
Look at those bootiess shake! I love this video. This song is strictly for...
The strippers? I’m known for making stripper anthems. Maybe she’s a stripper and she just wants to represent her set.
What do you think about the video?
Basic bitches shaking their ass.
When you write a “stripper anthem,” how do you approach it?
When I did “Where Dem Dollas At,” it was inspired by Jazze Pha. He did a beat for Tela called “Hoes in the Club.” But when I came up with “Can I Get Paid,” that was considered the stripper's anthem. Writing those songs, I was thinking about the mind frame of a stripper. I was younger then. Now that I’m older, I wouldn’t make a video like Pink Dollaz. I might make a strip-club song, but the video would be different. This looks low class.
Did you spend any time in strip clubs when you were younger?
Oh yeah. Man, watching the girls dance and do tricks—that’s what I like to do. Magic City in Atlanta has some dope females who do some crazy tricks. I fuck with the A and their strip clubs. Maybe these girls are strippers turned rappers. There’s a few of them nowadays. Make your money, ladies. But there’s a fine line between classy and trashy, and sexy and messy. And it takes time to figure it out.
SNOW THA PRODUCT'S "COOKIE CUTTER BITCHES"
I found this a few minutes before you got here. I was surprised it had so many hits. A lot of people are talking about this girl.
She's almost at a million. Yeah, they're talking about her.
What do you think?
I fuck with her. I like gangsta bitches. We met at South by Southwest and may do a song together. She’s thick, she’s pretty, but she’s not showing her ass. She wants people to hear her lyrics and not that other mess. If she wanted to take off her clothes, men would just die. But they have to respect her for what she’s saying—having a nice body and being pretty is just a plus.
Because rap is a lyrical art form, do you have to come with the rhymes whether you’re pretty or not?
I think so. It’s like, "OK, I know you have a big ass. Who doesn’t? You can pay for those nowadays. Let’s hear what you can say."
BROOKE CANDY'S "I WANNA FUCK RIGHT NOW"
I love Brooke Candy.
Yeah, I couldn’t believe this video. I was like, "Oh my God."
You can tell that she has been listening to some Gangsta Boo records.
Definitely. And for some reason, I believe this video is just representing how she really is. She doesn’t seem like she is lying. She must have been a stripper or something. I can tell by the way she hits that pole. It just seems like it’s her. Plus, any chick that rocks snakes and shit in their hair is hands down, a real bad bitch.
Yeah, this video is insane. What was it like making your early videos?
I did “Where Dem Dollas At?” in New York my first time out there. It was fun, especially coming from country-ass Memphis. It was fun then and it’s still fun. The cool part about it now is receiving the love from the younger generation. It’s just dope and it feels good and that’s why I get down with the young artists like the Raider Klan.
Was it hard to get your videos played back in the day?
Not that much after we got signed. It was pay-to-play at that point [laughs]... Are all Brooke’s songs like this?
Yeah, they’re pretty intense. It’s weird because a lot of people hate on her.
What are they hating on her for?
Too much sex stuff, I guess. And they think she looks like a man or something. I think she looks great.
Shit! They’re always saying somebody looks like a man. I don’t care. I like her. There’s so many dancers that come into the rap game and act like they don’t dance anymore and then have to end up going back to the strip club. At least she’s still in the strip club.
MIA'S "BAD GIRLS"
This is a good one.
This bitch is one of my favorite bitches of all time. This is one of the hardest videos ever, just because she’s so sexy and she’s just swagged out. And she's got that whole Sri Lankan vibe. Her and Brooke Candy are my favorites out of everybody you've shown me thus far.
When did you first hear MIA?
“Paper Planes.” And then when this video came out, everyone was talking about it, so I got on YouTube and watched it... Was that car really doing that?
Yeah. From what I hear, they really do that.
Wow. I wish she didn’t settle down and have a baby. But she went and got her some money and that’s real... Are they on skates?
Looks like plain old sneakers to me.
Boy, what are you talking about? Sneakers? I love how they have her chain bouncing on her chest. That’s crazy. Her videos are empowering.
Does it ever surprise you when you see people interpreting rap, a culture that you’ve been a part of, and spit it back at you in different ways?
I think it’s cool. It’s inspiring to know that people are watching you everywhere.
DIE ANTWOORD'S "BABIES ON FIRE"
But I don’t think this is dope. It’s weird. She looks like a fucking freak.
ANGEL HAZE'S "WERKIN' GIRLS"
OK, moving on to Angel Haze. What do you think?
To me she kind of sounds like Nicki Minaj.
Is that played out?
I don’t think it’s played out, I just think it’s Nicki. It’s that whole New York thing.
I think she’s from LA actually. That’s what’s weird about rap today and the internet. Regional sounds have kind of faded away.
She’s cool. I would need to hear some more to tell if I'm really into her.
She’s definitely a spitter, but it takes more than great bars to make a good song. When you write, how do you approach hooks?
Man, those hooks are not easy to write. It has to fall off your tongue. You can’t think too hard and you just have to go with it. Sometimes when you’re writing those lyrical songs you have to take a step back. That’s why Gucci Mane has been able to stay relevant for so long, he just says whatever. Gucci just raps. Literally. He freestyle raps. And I think sometimes when you write hooks and stuff like that, especially if you’re a rapper, you should just let it roll out of you. That’s how I write a lot of hooks. I just let it roll. Sometimes you have to—not dumb it down—but make it people friendly.
For sure. Thanks, Gangsta Boo!
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