The first lady of Three 6 Mafia, Gangsta Boo, is one of game’s most hushed legends. In a world where music critics love to throw lazy stereotypes on female rappers, the Queen of Memphis has stood the test of time as an O.G.in the game.
When Deep South country boys first heard Gangsta Boo on “Will Blast,” from Three 6 Mafia’s 1997 Chapter 2: World Domination album (Some were first introduced to Boo on Chapter 1: The End) spitting just as hard, harder in some cases, than her fellow Mafia brothers, fans were hearing a promising career.
Over the years, her status grew, but still she was often overlooked as a Southern pioneer in her own right. However, her stand out debut LP Enquiring Minds, which contained the hit single “Where Dem Dollas At,” help stamp Boo as solo force — and the hip-hop world embraced her.
“Being in Three 6 Mafia did give me a lot of confidence. I started noticing that not only am I hot, but that I’m talented,” Gangsta Boo told VIBE from her California home. “But you’d be surprised at how many motherfuckers don’t know that I was in Three 6 Mafia.”
This is why her latest mixtape, Candy, Diamonds & Pills, contains skits of Boo addressing her love for Triple 6. She wants to disepel any rumors one may have about her relationship with her Memphis family.
But going unnoticed by millennials isn’t really a concern for the rapper born Lola Mitchell. That’s because legendary artists like Outkast, Run The Jewels, Eminem, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, and others have sought sixteens from Gangsta. In her words: she was the feature girl. These emcees reached out specifically to her as opposed to the entire Three 6.
“It just motivates me to be like, ‘Hey, I got more work to do.’ And I just cater, and be happy with the fans that I have. I look at it like this: I get props from the people who want to give me props, the magazines, blogs, just normal people in the street,” the Memphis native said.
Gangsta’ rap is a staple in Memphis. And the city’s underworld plays an integral role in the careers of its artists. From local legend Tommy Wright III, Eightball & MJG, Three 6 Mafia, Yo Gotti, Don Trip, and Young Dolph, they were respected in the streets of Memphis long before they were introduced to the world through their music.
Memphis sits just 150 miles north of Greenville, Mississippi, and 533 miles south of Chicago. Chi-town and the ‘Ville has been a pipeline for gang culture and drugs for decades — thanks in part to the Great Migration when Blacks flocked north escaping Jim Crow laws. And, Memphis is the melting pot that sits in the middle of the Windy City and Greenville, absorbing everything from drugs, guns, prostitutes, pimps, and everything else that’s traditionally transported on U.S.Route 61, which connects Mississippi, Illinois and Tennessee.
Unfortunately, the violence that has plagued Memphis has made the city a regular on A&E’s First 48, a docu-series where real-life gang culture and murders are exposed. In fact, it’s alleged that drug lord El Chapo was connected to South Memphis Kingpin Craig Pettis, who is also DJ Paul’s half-brother.
The fact that Gangsta Boo made a name for herself as a street rapper in such a crime-ridden city, yet still found the resilience to stay focused in order to exit a stifling environment speaks volumes about her determination.
“When I’m in Memphis, I’m seeing family, and maybe two or three friends, and I’m out. I’m not trying to get killed in Memphis. Memphis is on that on that ‘hood shit still.”
Now, before you go hating on Gangsta Boo, relax. She’s not abandoning her city. Boo is human just like you and me. And she understands that she’s not immune from getting touched by some stomach growling goon looking to pay rent and feed his family.
“But I rep my city, I love Paul, I love Juicy, I love (Yo) Gotti, I love (Young) Dolph. I was talking to a friend of mine about Gotti today, and I love what they are doing. And, I’m so proud of Dolph. Every time I see him I tell him how proud I am of him.”
While Memphis can run a check list of some of the greatest street-rappers from the South, the city has a reputation of disunion amongst its artists. And the current beef brewing between CMG’s Blac Youngsta and Young Dolph doesn’t help the city’s image of togetherness.
“Memphis has a lot of negativity, but we’re a dope ass city, but we’re not Atlanta, we’re not Houston, where all of the rappers blew up at the same time and stuck together and put each other on songs. It took a very long time to put Eightball & MGJ on a song with Three 6 with “Stay Fly.” And for Christ sake, I still haven’t heard a Juicy J and Yo Gotti song. But T.I., and Ludacris and other entertainers join forces to make their city whole. But Memphis ain’t like that and probably never will be. I think some of the leaders lead wrong, and also a lot of people look for artists to get them on, and don’t have the drive to put in the work themselves.”
With nearly twenty years in the game, Gangsta Boo, coming off 2015’s Candy, Diamonds and Pills mixtape, is making some of the best music of her career. And 2015’s Underground Cassette Tape Music with Houston native, Beatking, was also one of the best mixapes that year.
“It does feel like I’m getting better, because I study my past songs or verses, and I pay attention to what my fans consider my best verses or best songs, I constantly critique my flow, speak more clearer and try to swag it out more.”
Now that she’s a veteran in the game, Gangsta has priceless gems for her fellow chicas in hip-hop. She even saluted rapper Lil Mamma after watching her hold her own during a recent interview with The Breakfast Club.
“She was crying. She just had bad time. But, I was looking at her today, and I was like, ‘Ok, she looking good.’ And she seemed stronger and seemed to have a different energy about her. And I was happy because she is a female, she is trying to do her thing and there is nothing wrong with that. She got another chance to redeem herself, and her legacy, I think that’s pretty dope.”
Boo continues: “My advice to anyone trying to come up in the game is be different, and find something about you that everybody likes. If you know that you that bitch in your hood, or if you know you that bitch at your school, or if you know that you that bitch just in general, then it has to come across on camera. It has to be high self-esteem. And it really shouldn’t be that hard because if you believe in yourself, everybody else will believe in you. And it shows, if you got it, it just shows.”
In retrospect, it seems that Boo found something that the streets and the industry liked about her. This is why she’s made a living doing what she loves. Today, she’s been blessed with a great degree of unselfishness which allows Boo to pass down the game she picked up from the likes of Mia X, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown and others.
That’s how legends move.