After an early release from his drug-related, nearly five-year prison stint and an acquittal of murder charges, the artist formerly known as Lil Boosie dropped his prefix in 2014 because, frankly, there’s nothing little about the man anymore.
Boosie picks up where his career left off on his first studio album since leaving his extended summer camp, Touch Down 2 Cause Hell, which was released in May. The rapper also recently took part in a documentary by the same name, which recaps his time while incarcerated as well as his triumphant comeback into the hip-hop world.
Big business. Big money. Big family. Big ambitions.
You may catch one of his seven children on the couch playing Xbox during their summer vacation, don’t expect to see dad picking up a controller.
“I don’t play no video games anymore, I’m too busy doing other shit,” he says. “I’m in the studio, running a label, I got deposits I’m getting. My life is an airplane, how am I going to be playing video games?”
Even at a young age, Boosie never let an opportunity to better himself pass by. Some of his earliest summer memories include attending summer basketball academies where kids from the hood gathered in a large, sweaty gym and balled all afternoon. Being the late ’80s and early ’90s, many of them had dreams of being Louisiana’s next Karl Malone or Clyde Drexler.
“We were just playin’ man. Just playing ball all day, having fun. You win, they get mad. You lose, well, you know.”
Boosie was a promising young guard throughout his school years, but after getting involved in the drug scene and being expelled from high school, his future as an athlete was derailed. The Baton Rouge rapper did earn his GED while serving his prison sentence.
A self-described competitive person and an admitted occasional sore loser, Boosie says he has an insatiable need to achieve, be it through sports, music, or money.
“I think that just comes from me wanting to be the best at everything I do,” he says. “If I’m going to do something, I can do it good. Anything I do, if I can do something—like, if I fuck with that—I’m going to do that good. If I don’t, I might just play around with it, but if I do, I’m going to do that good.”
The need to be the best extends into his experiences as a father as well. Summer vacation plans for the Boosie kids will consist almost entirely of “daddy daycare”—following the BadAzz himself around the country as he tours, records, and brokers business deals.
“I’m a good daddy, man,” he says. “My kids got the best daddy ever. You know how many kids out there would love for Boosie to be their daddy?”
Boosie’s goal with his kids is to give them everything he never had. His own father was not around to see him grow up, and being locked away in prison kept Boosie away from his own children for a while as well.
“I know how it feels to grow up at a certain age with no daddy and I know what it’s like to want to have something that I can’t get,” he says. “So right out the gate, we [kids growing up without a father] comin’ up. For these little kids out there, they thinkin’, ‘Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’money.’ That’s my grind, man.”
From day one, Boosie says he made academics a priority with his kids. A good report card is a paycheck. A bad report card could mean a “whooping.” But the successes outweigh most slip-ups.
“Whatever they do, I’m with,” he says. “My kids are talented. Some shoot basketball. Some love music. Some love Instagram. Some love money. I got seven kids with seven different personalities.”
For a man forced to watch his kids grow up behind glass, who went years without a hug, no celebratory shopping spree or birthday present can ever be seen as too much. Boosie can’t put his love on hold for any longer.
“Nothing makes me feel better than when my kids smile,” he says.
Photographer: Rich Meade at Richmeade.com.