“This is all I’ve ever wanted,” A Boogie says of his increasing recognition. “What I got going on right now, it can’t get any better than this. Only I can be the judge of that—I can make it better or I can make it worse.”
On “The Jungle,” the 20-year-old singer and rapper draws a line in the musical sand: “Why do you think my name is Artist? I’m an artist.” A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s real name is Artist Dubose, and he describes his two identities as Artist, the alias behind his love songs, and A Boogie, who is his street side found on cuts like “Bando” and “Bag on Me.” He inherited his name from his father, who was a creative that liked to draw. Inspired by the construction of writing music, A Boogie got into rapping, penning some of his first rhymes when he was 13 years old.
Growing up, A Boogie listened to The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac, as well as New York mainstays like Jay Z and 50 Cent. He likes Kanye West and he’s a fan of J. Cole. He remembers carrying around a “notebook of bars” during his freshman year at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, participating in lunchroom cyphers by spitting written rhymes. Most of his material centered on things that he didn’t actually have—just an imaginary lifestyle of riches he hoped to be a part of one day. His classmates enjoyed it, too. “It was bars! Everybody liked it, everybody was rockin’ with it. And after a while I just started spitting real things that I was going through,” he says.
The way he was singing it, he wasn’t doing it right. I went in the booth and I showed him how I wanted it, and it came out like magic. I was like, ‘Oh shit, I could do that?’
When he was 16, he had to split time between New York and Florida. After his parents heard that he was getting into trouble in New York, they made him move to Florida as punishment. “I wasn’t going to school. I started being on the block a lot. I got locked up for weed a lot,” he says. From 16 to 18, A Boogie was an unknown artist, devoid of any industry connects and with no access to a studio. Still, he made moves when opportunities presented themselves, and in December of 2014 he connected with a producer named Myster Whyte who worked on his single “Temporary.” It was the first song he had ever made in a studio.
During the session, A Boogie struggled to perfect the song’s harmonized flow, which is a kind of distorted croon. At first, he was screaming his lyrics—it was so bad he quit for a few months. “I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. I was horrible,” he admits. He even tried getting a singer to help coach him, but something was off. “I was like, ‘Yo, try to sing this for me,’” he says. “The way he was singing it, he wasn’t doing it right. I went in the booth and I showed him how I wanted it, and it came out like magic. I was like, ‘Oh shit, I could do that?’”