I certainly hope that by this point in time you are aware of the name Boog Brown. For starters, it is my honest opinion that there are few artists out there who are more genuine that Boog. The Detroit-bred, Atlanta-based emcee and poet has an enormous talent on the microphone, however beyond that, she understands the true merit of her work. It’s awfully refreshing for there to be such a smart and level-headed hip-hop artist, so trust me when I say that Boog deserves every ounce of recognition she is getting and then some.
But, I digress. Boog took the time out to speak with us about her musical inspirations, struggles and philosophies (many of which actually transcend the music-real life boundaries). Hit the skip to pick her brain:
Potholes In My Blog: Hey there, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. How are you doing?
Boog Brown: Oh man, I am elated! I am elated to be here. This – this is… wow [laughs]. It’s surreal a bit – the amount of work I’ve put in and the amount of time I’ve been doing this. I am really blessed more than anything else.
PIMB: Many people might know you for your latest collaborative effort with Apollo Brown, but you have actually been around for quite some time. Talk about your early years as an emcee and poet. How did you get into hip-hop?
BB: Well, I had been writing poetry since about the time I was 14, after my mom died. I was in high school, entering my freshman year. My mom passed away and really my only outlet was poetry. I started writing poetry but I didn’t like to rhyme. I enjoyed the free verse, kind of prose-ish. I decided I wanted to freestyle with my homeboys when I was in college in 2003, 2004. That was cool, but I was really wack. But Invincible, that was my homegirl even outside of hip-hop. We would kick it, and she would give me pointers. I would ask, “How do I do this?” When I moved to Atlanta, I really wanted to improve on how to make moves. I ended up linking with Illastrate, and from there I just practiced, practiced, practiced. I’d be in the lab, practicing how I would write, how I would spit, my pocket, and my confidence on the mic just escalated. It was kind of more of a gradual progression.
PIMB: That’s what they say – it’s all about the journey not the destination right?
BB: Exactly! I would not have thought that I would be where I am right now. Three years ago, when I first moved to Atlanta, if you had asked me where I’d be, I couldn’t have told you any of this. Not in a million years.
PIMB: Being a talented female rapper, did you face skepticism or hurdles on your hip-hop career path, as a result of your gender? If so, how did you handle it so well?
BB: Of course there were people that had their feelings about female emcees. There were always those people, but I had a pretty good foundation. I never thought about myself as a “female emcee.” I won’t say that Lauryn Hill and MC Lyte and Queen Latifah weren’t influences for me, but the emcees I really was really digging were Nas, OutKast, Raekwon, Method Man, Redman. I’m emceeing for the fact that I want to emcee – not because I feel like hip-hop needs a place for a female emcee somewhere. So, I just really paid it no mind. I just stayed caught up in the idea that if you’re not paying attention to me as an emcee, you’re missing out.
PIMB: You played SXSW earlier this year. Surely there were some people who may have known your work from The Grind Season Vol. 1. How was that entire experience for you? Was the crowd receptive to your music?
BB: I think a couple people – my fam – really knew who I was. The people who had followed me since the beginning knew I would be there. Invincible actually set it up so that I could be on that phenomenal show with Tiye Phoenix, Eternia, Bahamadia – so many other women. [Invincible] set it up so I could be a part of that, so all my family from back home kind of knew what I was doing.
That experience was so huge for me though. I had heard about SXSW, and as early as I was in my career, I didn’t think that I would be a part of something that big. It was a bit surreal. I’m still like, “Oh my god!” I’m still digesting all of it.
PIMB: Detroit has a rich musical history, even beyond the scope of hip-hop. How has that city and its heritage played a role in your development as an artist?
BB: My uncle and my grandmother were pretty big on the gospel scene. We all used to sing in the same space; singing along to Aretha Franklin. My mom used to sing at nightclubs when she was younger. So we always had music in the household. Not so much hip-hop, but more r&b, soul, funk and jazz. I played violin when I was younger, so that’s where my musical interests were. But then I started hearing De La Soul, N.W.A., Snoop and Dre, and all those cats, and that’s what sparked my interest in hip-hop. Once ATLiens came out I just jumped all the way into it. Nas – Illmatic; It Was Written.
So Motown [the city, not the label] has definitely had its influence. Slum Village, Dilla, Phat Kat, Marv Won – there’s so, so many artists there. Even outside the city in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor with Athletic Mic League, 14KT. Yeah, KT is my homie. Good people. Even beyond good artists, they’re good people first.
PIMB: Let’s dig into Brown Study. How did you and Apollo first link up, and what attracted you to each other’s music?
BB: Twitter [laughs]. Yeah, I love Twitter. It was supposed to be like a What Can Brown Do For You?-type thing. It was going to be Kev Brown, Apollo, me, and maybe Danny Brown. It might have been just a passing thing, but then Mello Music came along and said they were serious about it. So I was like, “Well, if you’re serious, I’m serious.” So the whole thing snowballed and came together.
PIMB: What in your mind was the biggest challenge throughout the entire recording process?
BB: I think the biggest challenge was not being able to sit in the studio with Apollo. I wouldn’t say it was a challenge – it was just different than the way I had made music before. Sitting in a studio with a producer is important in building chemistry, but it really turned out to not be that big of an issue. Still, I would have preferred to sit with him and hear how he felt when I was recording.
The biggest thing was that I didn’t want to fall into the trap of trying to make an album for everybody. I didn’t want to please everybody. I wanted to remain true to myself as an artist, do justice to the beats that Apollo laced, and make an album that we’ll be able to sell.
PIMB: Is there a particular message that you hope fans take away from your music? And along those lines, do you have a particular song that you feel best expresses what Boog Brown is all about?
BB: “Understanding” and “Shine” probably describe where I am in my life right now. Those joints really will give you a good grasp on who I am as a person and as an artist. Just do you. It’s okay to be who you are, and do what you do. You don’t need someone to be like “that’s dope;” you don’t need to have someone cosign you, or call your name in good circles. You don’t have to retweet ten links to everybody. You just have to make good music. That’d what Illastrate taught me – just make good music and do you. If you make good music, people will gravitate towards you. That’s really the message of Brown Study – just do you!
PIMB: What’s next for Boog Brown in 2010 and on into 2011? Can we expect to hear some more music from you anytime soon?
BB: I’m working on a joint with Lex Boogie called The Boogie. This is Lex Boogie from the Bronx. I’ve got another project in the works with Illastrate. I decided that because he was here and he’s as dope as he is, I would just go with Illastrate on this one. Then there will be a few new videos coming from Brown Study.
PIMB: Thanks so much for the interview. Any final words for the fans out there?
BB: Thank you. I love you. That’s really all I can say. Thank you for helping me get to where I am.