boosienext.jpgFolks love Lil Boosie ’cause he wears his heart on his sleeve. Gloating and emoting over Louisiana bounce beats, the 23-year-old Baton Rougian has earned what is surely many rap fans’ highest compliment: a comparison to 2Pac. “It’s one of my top motivators when someone tells me in the club, ‘Nigga, you the next ’Pac,’” he says. “I idol ’Pac… When they tell me that shit, I go home and get focused.”

While Boosie is new to national fame, a slew of loyalists stretching the Southern belt have exalted his ghetto testaments for years. Having grown up in a poor but close-knit family (he slept in the same bed as his grandmother up to the age of 16), he got serious about his rhymes after his father succumbed to cancer in 1997. “It made me start rapping,” he says of his dad’s passing. “That’s when I really wanted to express myself.”

Originally discovered by local No Limit recording artist Young Bleed, Boosie—a self-proclaimed “neighborhood bad azz”—released his debut album, Youngest of Da Camp, on the independent C-Loc Records in 2000. Things hit a snag, though, later that year, when he was sentenced to jail for being in a stolen car. Luckily, Pimp C’s Trill Entertainment business partners, Turk and Mel, came through with bail and a recording contract that partnered the troubled teen with fellow Baton Rouge youngster Webbie. Within a five-year span, the duo dropped two joint efforts, along with their respective solo work.

So to hear him tell it, the attention Boosie’s been getting lately is way late in coming. “I feel like I’ve been overlooked for a long time,” he says, his pinched, high-register voice sounding even edgier than usual. “When Cash Money was dropping hits, I was dropping hits… Real talk, if I had a $10 million budget, I’d be selling millions.”

He’s probably getting closer to something like that. After Trill secured a deal with Atlantic Records, he scored his first countrywide radio play last year with the Yung Joc–assisted “Zoom” (on which Boosie says he carries a Glock ’cause he’s “paranoid like ’Pac”). And this past summer, he ascended another level, with his song-stealing verse on the “Wipe Me Down (Remix)” (on which Boosie claims he and his cohorts are “famous like the Ninja Turtles”), from Trill’s Survival of the Fittest compilation. “When I put my verse on that mutha-fucka, it just took off to other places,” he says in the midst of prepping his forthcoming set, Show the World: The Return of Boosie Bad Azz. “They done let me get in the door. Everybody get their time to shine. Now it’s mine.”
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