PUMA, the iconic sports footwear and apparel brand that helped capture the slick, yet gritty vibe of New York City during the 1970s and 1980s, is looking to disrupt the sports and lifestyle industries in a big way in 2018. Making a big splash by inking premier NBA draft picks Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III to endorsement deals earlier this month, PUMA has re-emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the sports world, but also has its sights set on appealing and ingratiating itself to the hip-hop community.

One of PUMA's recent steps towards strengthening that relationship is their partnership with A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, an artist that exudes the hustler's spirit the brand has been synonymous with dating back to its beginnings. Hailing from New York City, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie attributes his fashion sense and artistry to growing up in the Bronx, the borough notorious for helping birth hip-hop and producing rap royalty like Slick Rick, KRS-One, Fat Joe and Big Pun. "[The] Bronx helped my music and my style, period," A Boogie says while clad in a red and white PUMA tracksuit and matching GV Special kicks.

First making waves in 2016 with his debut mixtape, Artist, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie has enjoyed one of the more meteoric rises in rap as of late. In addition to penning platinum hits like "My Shit," "Timeless" and "Jungle," A Boogie has set himself apart from his contemporaries by flexing a business acumen that allowed him and his partner Quincy “QP” Acheampong to broker a joint-venture with Atlantic Records for their Highbridge the Label imprint. Although A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and Highbridge the Label's success may have seemingly come overnight, it is simply the product of the kind of work ethic and persistence that comes from scratching to survive in the mean streets of the Boogie Down. "People's hustle in the Bronx is real," A Boogie shares. "Like, a lot of people out here is starving and to get it, you'll do anything."

The year 2017 was major for A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie's evolution, as the New Yorker would take his grind globally with the release of his debut album, The Bigger Artist, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 chart and earned gold certification. The "Drowning" rapper also made waves when he was selected as a member of XXL’s 2017 Freshman class that same year, an accolade which a rising star holds near and dear, but one that has also lit a competitive fire within him to grow even more creatively and business-wise.

"2017 was crazy when I made the Freshman cover ’cause I looked up to it and I really wanted to be in it," A Boogie says. "It was motivation for me after that, I kept on going and I grinded. The spot I'm in right now I'm not even all the way happy with so that's how you know I'm hungrier." With the release of his latest project, The International Artist, and his induction into the PUMA family, the sky is the limit for A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, who is eyeing the trajectory of Jay-Z, another business-minded New York native, who also happens to be the new Creative Designer of PUMA Basketball.

"Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, they took hip-hop somewhere else and that's what we trying to do," says A Boogie. "We started from hip-hop, now we trying to move on to the bigger level, so you gotta keep your mind focused and really create that long-term career for yourself."

Watch A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie break down what the Bronx means to him and how it's influenced his style and hustle.

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