Lil Boosie holds a press conference to talk about what's next.
When she passed behind our row the first time, the young lady offered lanyards but found no takers. We all had creds for the press conference, we were already in the ballroom, and who needs another lanyard? Then someone asked, “Does it say Boosie on it?”
“It says Trill Entertainment,” she said.
OK, fuck it, we’ll take one. Everyone laughed, lanyard lady, too.
Today the hip-hop media descended on the W Hotel on Poydras this afternoon for the first public interviews with Lil’ Boosie, the Baton Rouge rapper freed last week from Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola after serving four years on drug charges. The promoters live-streamed the event so the world could watch, and Twitter seemed to indicate that many people took advantage of the diversion, happily employing the #BoosieSpeaks hashtag that replaced #FreeBoosie as the go-to signifier of support for the man who made “Ratchet” and “Wipe Me Down” famous. Interestingly, a cat from the LA Weekly tweeted that the “Wipe Me Down” video was playing on the two projection screens that flanked the stage, where gilded thrones awaited Boosie and interviewer Angela Yee. “Is this heaven?” he tweet-asked. In fact, that song never played; “Green Light Special” and “Top to the Bottom” were on a loop with the Atlantic and Trill Family logos. Perhaps, my neighbor said, the dude didn’t know any other Boosie tracks. We were in social media heaven, though, so do your thing, @Passionweiss. It would’ve been funny if it were true, and knowing the hashtag is more important than knowing the song, feel me?
Whatever Boosie means to media in Los Angeles, he’s been treated like a folk legend in Louisiana, and his return was significant for all the fans who pined for him and his snarly whine. I liked his music and I liked how hard he repped Baton Rouge, and how that loyalty was reciprocated along the Gulf Coast. I dug that his videos featured him riding on the front of a bicycle past peeling shotgun houses. I never realized how popular he was in hip circles pre-prison, but I’m often surprised like that.
At 1 p.m., people got to their feet to capture the entrance of Bun B, Young Jeezy and Webbie, all of who spoke briefly to the press. Well, Bun B and Jeezy were brief. Webbie decided to take the throne with Angela, laughed that he was nervous, and proceeded to crack everyone up. “I talked to God, you coming home,” he said in his deep drawl when asked what he’d told the imprisoned Boosie. “Them n*ggas pussy!” Webbie was blazed and honest.
His lawyers said a few words, then Boosie came out in white Gucci shirt, pants, and shoes. His arms looked thicker, but sunglasses covered his eyes, which always used to look haunted, slightly tweaked. He sounded relaxed, comfortable, like he really felt at home. He didn’t listen to many new artists while he was locked down; there might be a collabo with C-Murder; he has a song for Bieber; he wrote 1,018 songs in prison.
All of which you probably heard about. When something’s live-streamed and big on Twitter, what do you report afterwards? If it’s prepped for voyeurs, why rehash the facts of a spectacle? I say that as a compliment to the promoters: this was an artist who gained wider attention while in prison through his popularity on social media, and today was a solid social media freedom party. Better yet, social media was the theme of Angela Yee’s questioning, and it was pretty funny. She asked about Instagram and Boosie said he was just shocked you could see someone on the phone while you talked to them. They mentioned all the web support and subsequent growth in popularity, and Angela asked what Boosie’s first freed tweet would be. Boosie hadn’t really thought about it, and I liked that.
I kept thinking how insane this must feel. To suddenly be free, off the plantation that is Angola. Like, just imagine that. Forget whether or not you came up hard, were an iridescent talent, scored big hits, told reporters you’d stuffed E into the rear ends of chicks to get a quicker---forget all that. Imagine you were in jail, now you are free, and you have to adjust to freedom and the world. Think about how crazy that would be. And then to sit down on a gold throne in New Orleans and have people ask about your opinions and plans for some little screen when you just got out of a little box. And no one asks about life inside (or your lawyers won’t let them), what it was like.
Near the end of the interview, Boosie mentioned prison. “I went through some stuff in prison. You ain’t gotta ask me about what I went through.” In fact, he was charged with attempting to smuggle drugs into the penitentiary, and there may be legal reasons why that was left out of the questions from Yee and the assembled reporters. Really, the details and charges are irrelevant. Maybe it got covered in his subsequent one-on-ones. I’m still wondering, though, what was it like in Angola? I guess we’ll have to wait for “Boosie the Movie,” which he promised us today.
Today marked the reappearance of someone who’d been made exponentially more famous by the Internet while he was away for four years. The event seemed to be more concerned with the reengagement with social media than with society. Why he left, what he experienced when he was gone, what it was like to be free—those weren’t so important. There was music to be made. Atlantic was “betting the house” on Boosie now, his lawyer told us. And, after four years of tweeted clamors for his release, maybe that wasn’t a bad bet. Maybe, too, it was the hyperbolic symbol of an industry’s desperation. For the last 4 years, Boosie was a great hashtag, but we’ll have to wait and see if the hype for the prisoner translates to hits for the artist.
By Brian Boyles