Interview: A Boogie Doesn’t Only Want To Rap About Heartbreak Anymore
Two years since the release of his debut album, A Boogie reflects on his come-up and discusses the way fan reception has shaped his artistry leading up to ‘Hoodie SZN.’
A Boogie wit da Hoodie as we know him is dead, the Bronx native reveals as he reclines in a velvet blue armchair, conveying a relaxed and reserved demeanor. “It's no ‘old A Boogie,’” he reaffirms. “It's no coming back to old A Boogie.”
Melodically skipping over beats since 2016, A Boogie — born Artist Julius Dubose — came into the game walking the tightrope between sensitive and street. Sparked by the flame of resentment, Dubose introduced himself to the game in Feb. 2016 with his debut, the heartbreak-ridden mixtape Artist. While his breakout track “My Sh*t” demonstrated his ability to rise from the trenches and deliver a New York anthem, tracks like the fan-favorite “D.T.B.” branded Dubose as a skeptic of love, ultimately establishing the persona that drove his Highbridge come up.
But years after fans fell in love with his original sound, the now 23-year-old finds himself at a crossroad between progression and consistency. “After I came out with Artist, I wanted to try something different,” A Boogie says, reflecting on his decisions to incorporate new instruments, beats, and artists on his June 2018 mixtape, International Artist. Created mainly for experimentation and growth, the Highbridge rapper also looked to expand his empire beyond the realm of New York. “I feel like all my fans saw what I was doing, but they just didn't care” he continues. “They loved how I started so much that they didn't care about the switch up, they just wanted me to be heartbroken.”
Still, Dubose decided to honor his own artistic trajectory while still appeasing his loyal fan base on his latest project, Hoodie SZN, which debuted on June 21. A Boogie goes 18 cuts deep to show fans that he can level-up in a way they’d appreciate and understand. “I don't want to be f**kin' heartbroken no more,” he laughs. “I could use those flows, yeah, but I feel like I updated too much for that. I feel like that A Boogie was amateur, and this A Boogie can do that plus way way more.”
Chopping it up with VIBE, A Boogie discusses perfecting his craft in the limelight, his roots as “Artist,” and broadening his palette on Hoodie SZN.
VIBE: So there's “Artist” and then there’s A Boogie. How would you categorize the difference between the two?
A Boogie: I would just categorize it between “in your feelings,” which is Artist and “in your bag,” which is A Boogie. A Boogie is when you put your hoodie on and feel street vibes, like “f**k b*tches” sh*t.
You were saying how your fans want heartbreak, but aren’t you in a relationship?
Yeah and even though people go through it in relationships, that's not where I want it to be at right now. But I guess [my fans] put me back in that bag anyway because I'm making my next album right now, Artist 2.0, and I feel like they got me back in that bag. I'm going through some stuff anyway, so I feel like it's that time to just let everything out and give people what they want. No features on Artist 2.0 though. My fans don't even like me doing songs with people, that's the funny part. (Laughs)
Which version of you are we going to see on Hoodie SZN?
Hoodie SZN has both versions, and it's a good reason behind this too. Hoodie SZN got a lot of songs on it, as you can see, and I was going to break them up and have Hoodie SZN just be straight hoodie-on, street vibes while Artist has the love songs, but I feel like that's not me, though. I always have to mix it in and balance it out between the street and the love, so that's why I named my tour A Boogie vs. Artist, because I'm just fighting amongst myself.
That's the upcoming tour, right?
Yeah, it's starting in February. On the low, it's starting in Australia in January, but officially it's starting in February because the [second] Artist tape drops on [Feb. 14], so that's when it begins right there. Everything is changing too. I'm having an update on all my shows, my stage presence, everything…It's going to be crazy.
Hoodie SZN is your longest project to date. How did you decide what would make the cut?
This one is 18 tracks compared to my usual 12 to 13. It’s long, so I wasn't going to drop anything after this for at least half a year so fans can really let the music sink in, but then I thought about it. I said, "Hell no, I'm dropping every quarter…” I got enough music to drop all of that sh*t. I pick and choose what I want to put on what. Instead of just dropping a single, I like putting projects together.
Tory Lanez is like that. I know you guys collab a lot, but he makes a lot of music and he picks and chooses how he wants to put it out, which I think ends up working out really well.
Word. I think we do things the same exact way, that's why it's crazy. We got the same format, but [the difference is] he could work independently. Like if his engineer not there, he could just work by himself. Me, I don't like doing that. I have to just close my eyes and vibe out, I can't go back to the computer. It messes me up.
He said he records in his house, but you record in the studio. When you recorded features, did you work in the studio with everyone?
Not everyone. Only person I wasn't in the studio with was Tyga. I never even met Tyga before. That just got put together, but everybody else I met before, and we’re real good.
You have two cuts on the album with newer artists — "Demons and Angels" with JuiceWRLD and then "Swervin" with Tekashi 6ix9ine. What is your take on hip-hop's freshman class and why have you decided to invest in them?
Man, Tekashi, that's the bro right there. I f**ked with his vibe from the jump. I met him in London. We’re in a whole other country and two New York n****s link up and it started a whole new thing out there. We went to a show together and that was the first show we did. That's when I was like “Damn, this n***a is lit.” I didn’t know he was that lit too.
Why'd you decide to make "Look Back At It" the single?
Nah I wasn't gonna make it the single because it took so long (to clear the sample of Michael Jackson’s “You Rock My World”), but to me that song was so special, that it was just a personal thing that I had to make it the single. Besides that, the fans have been waiting on that sh*t for forever too, so like I said, it's for my day ones so it's only right that I give that to them first. They get treated first.
You have two MJ songs sampled, and you’re wearing a Michael Jackson pin. How would you say he influenced your artistry?
In every way. Even though I can't dance, that's like the one thing I wished I could do growing up. I used act like I was MJ, doing the moonwalk, tip toes, leg kick all that. (Laughs) He was just being him and that sh*t was amazing. I saw this whole movie, it was like a five-hour movie of him? [Ed. note: A Boogie may be referring to Moonwalker, Michael Jackson's anthology film from 1988.] It came out a minute ago, cause I was like probably 15 when I first saw that. It wasn't even a documentary, that's why I liked it. It was like a movie movie and it explained everything from when he was a little kid, and then when his mouse died he made that song "Ben" and then he had his first show and all the shows at Apollo. And he wrote that one song, what's the name of that sh*t. (Laughs) When he was like "I treated you bad."
That's a Jackson 5 song, it was "Who's Loving You."
Yeah, "Who's Loving You." That was my favorite song when I was younger, that's top five still in my books when it comes to Michael Jackson and that song "You Rock My World" and "Remember The Time" was my top two, so I had to put that in there.
On B4 Hoodie SZN you had "3 Min Convo" where you get introspective about your life. But then you hit us with “4 Min Convo" on Hoodie SZN. What was the inspiration behind the names of the tracks, and why did you decide to make a follow-up?
“3 Min Convo” was a very personal song for me because it was actually made off of a phone call with my friend that's in the feds, V-12. I said his name in the song too. When I hung up, the phone said [the conversation lasted for] three minutes and I just started thinking about him and my other friends that's in jail. When I thought about it, I thought that “3 Min Convo” was a perfect name for the song before I even made it. But speaking of phone calls, on “4 Min Convo” I start by talking about "I woke up to like 99 missed calls,” and how I was on a jail call when someone [else] called me. People think I’m ignoring them and so [the song] is about my lifestyle and everything I've been through. It’s basically just me venting and talking with a melody.
So “4 Min Convo” wasn't based off a phone call?
No, “3 Min Convo.” “4 Min Convo” is just a follow up. When I dropped “3 Min Convo,” I basically treated it like a throwaway, so instead of bringing it back and having fans ask why I did that when they already heard it, I made a brand new one that, in my opinion, is better. I may only be saying that because it's newer than the other one though. I’ll let the fans decide.
Would you say it's your most personal track on the album?
Yes, but throughout the whole album, it's a lot of different vibes. It's mood swings.
For the first three vibes, it's just me. The first one is the intro and I'm talking some heartbreak sh*t, plus street sh*t on that one. They’re going to feel that one from me. That's from the heart right there.
"Beasty," I feel like that's more for the streets, where they can say "Oh sh*t, he was hype on this one." On “I Did It,” I'm back on. You could say that's a little bit of old A Boogie right there. On track four we start getting into the features, but then I take them back to me on “Love, Drugs & Sex.” “Skeezers,” is like a confessional, but it's also a catchy song. Then on “Savage,” I'm just talking about how I always thought my last bi**h would be my last bi**h (Laughs). For the middle of the album, it slows down and turns more into talking to the females. It creeps in there with the JuiceWRLD track, but I really get into it on “Come Closer” with Queen Naija. I like that one a lot. We were in the studio in Atlanta cooking that one up, and we really took our time and plotted that song out.
Would you say “4 Min Convo” is most important to the project, or did something go down while you were recording one of those other tracks that make it hold a higher significance?
I went through a lot of little things throughout making this album, but it definitely is “4 Min Convo” when it comes to talking personal stuff. That's why I put that as the last song, so people could just sit there and listen to it.
You think it makes a difference being able to be in the studio with someone and vibing out versus having it set up?
It makes a difference sometimes, but that sometimes is very important. (Laughs) Me and the person could be in the studio and the vibe could be amazing and we can make a whole bunch of songs to be able to choose from, like with me and Thugger. Me and Thugger could make nine songs in a day and then choose which songs we like the most and think is gonna do something. With other people, it's like, we pick one song and we hope it's the one. (Laughs) That's why I say sometimes, because it just depends.
Stream Hoodie SZN below.