Pittsburgh rapper Boaz has been around longer than most people think. The MC signed to Rostrum Records—the label that bred hometown superstars such as Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller—in 2012, and has recently been building buzz on the success of two new EPs, Real Name, No Gimmicks Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, with guests such as Scarface, Sean Price, Punch from TDE, Rockie Fresh and Crooked I. Now he's gearing up for his debut LP for Rostrum, titled Intuition, which is due out October 21. The album is set to feature Junior Reid, Styles P, Jadakiss and Miller, but will largely feature just Boaz rhyming over beats from K-Salaam & Beatnick, the Heatmakerz, ID Labs and Jim Jonsin, among others.

With the release date for Intuition quickly approaching, Boaz has been dropping heat in the form of videos for "Like This" and "How We Law," as well as the recent cut with The LOX, "Rootin' 4 The Villain." Last week, the Rostrum rhymer swung through the XXL offices to lift the veil behind some of the elements of Intuition, including his mindset with the project and the experience of working with Jonsin. Pittsburgh represent. —Dan Rys

XXL: Tell me about the album title, Intuition.
Boaz: I think it just kind of self-developed, man. We was in the studio one day and I usually get a series of beats to my email, so I'm chillin. And my man is sending me these beats, and I'm like, let me check my homie's beats before I get to the rest of these. And it was just a banger, and when I started hearing it it just took me back to that early '90s feel of just music, for the title track. And it just came about that way. When I was doing that song, I was in the middle of the album, and I was like, man, this shit just seems perfect right now. I figured it would be a perfect way to drop the album with a video, with the title track. It just came about real sweet, man.

And it was real reflective of my personality, my characteristics. So naming that shit Inuition was just like, we wanted to reflect something that was just authentic, you know? So hopefully the things we're foreseeing—what's gonna take place, hopefully, with our careers, how we wanna do music—all that shit was intuition.

How do you think the EP set you up for this?
I think the EP was good, man, it was just something fun to do while preparing the album. I was just putting together so much music that I just had enough music to do something real fun and it was a beautiful commercial or advertisement per se, just to keep myself hot. It was some real good music I had that I felt just needed to be out there. So the Real Name, No Gimmicks joint it just came about by just working, saturating myself in the studio and just making mad music. So when we dropped it, it was pretty good content, so somebody might've been like, "Damn, if this is what it is, what's it gonna be on the album?" So it was just grinding. The last few years have been about the show and prove and I really made myself just a workhorse in the game, man.

You've been collaborating with Scarface, Jadakiss, Styles P, Sean Price; a lot of more rugged rappers. Do you gravitate towards that type of rapper?
I think right now we're at a point where we're just trying to keep everything authentic, man. And the people we work with is the people that's taken a liking to the music, taken a liking to me as an artist, so we're open to pretty much working with anybody that's doing they thing, that wanna work and that's on their grind. I think we took a natural attraction to those guys, maybe given the resemblance. [Laughs] It was a natural bondage, man, and it was a little easier to put together that chemistry with some of those more rugged rappers.

Most of the project doesn't have anybody else on it.
Yeah. I think that's one of my main focal points, is just showcasing my artistry, man. There's so much of me on the album that I try to make it a point where I'm changing a bit or my character is changing in certain songs, so it's like, "Who the hell was that that you had featured on that?" And it's me. So it's really just showing that little bit of versatility, and how you can create so many different sounds to make this same point, or exercise this same title I'm trying to get across. It's all about having that good intuition, being able to see music from different angles.

Did you have one thing in mind going in with your beat selection, or was it just about how things popped up?
Yeah, I think as it becomes more of a routine, beats are always being thrown at you. So it comes a point where you gotta weed those tracks out for the sound you're looking for now, 'cause there's always good music out there. Even producers; you might get with one of the best producers in the game and he's playing beats for you but it's just not that sound that you wanted, that you're looking for. I think that's one of our main focal points; when we go to search for our production we're always looking for that sound that seems like it's a bit futuristic but still has a very easy listening to it, man. That's one of the toughest parts, is just finding production that's different, but still good. Hard as work, bro. 'Cause you creatin' your sound; that's like the base of your outfit, that's like your sneakers or your hat. [Laughs]

Which producers are on the album?
I got K-Salaam & Beatnick on there of course, they produced two joints on there. I got Heatmakerz on there. Home team, ID Labs production on there, Team Green on there. Izzy The Producer on three, I got some hot producers. And you know I got my man Jim Jonson on there, that's one of the bigger tracks on the album. Went down to Florida to record that one, man, it just came out super sweet. Lot of exciting, different production from just everywhere around the world. Just trying to keep that sound nice and fresh.

What was that session like with Jim Jonsin?
It was amazing, bro. We had flew down to Miami. It was crazy—I wanna say it was Memorial Day—and we had stayed in Miami or whatever, but Jim stays probably an hour away from the city. So we were like, alright, we'll go mob and mess with Jim. And at the time I had a bad ass ear infection, bro, so bad I got snot leaking out of my ear, right? So we go over to the studio and shit is kinda funny 'cause at the time when I'm down there and we're trying to market the situation, I'm taking all these Instagram pictures of shit and I got this piece of fuckin' cotton in my ear, shit was funny as hell.

We get to Jim's crib and as we're pullin' up I'm like, "Damn, this is the fuckin' studio?" The studio was fuckin' awesome, man. Got the mansion, all the racing cars outside, pool in the back, just a hell of a relaxed environment if you wanna write. So if you writing to music, there's no way you can be at Jim's crib and be like, "I got writer's block." It's just a total escape from everything, you know what I mean? So we get in there, meet him, I'm excited like, wow. That's the part that kinda fucks you up, when you meet these guys and it's like, life kinda goes on. It's kinda tough when you makin' stardom yourself and you see a bigger star than yourself and you gotta humble yourself, it's like, wow.

Life doesn't just move in slow motion in those moments.
Nah, but you want it to, right? [Laughs] I wanted this shit to freeze, but it was like, nah, Jim Jonsin, we working together and that's even more of a pleasure. So he plays this beat for me, bro, and it's rockin'. You know as you're listening to a beat you wanna kind of get the feel of everybody in the room? I could see everybody else [loving it]. Long story short, this isn't the song we used. The next day I come back to the studio, and I see Jim and he was like, "Yeah man, yesterday we had a good session, song came out good, go on in and listen to it. But I got this one more beat, just one more beat I wanna play for you before we go in and start mastering this song." So he presses play and it's the grooviest shit I've ever head. It's perfect summertime, or anywhere where the weather's nice, titties out, asses bouncin'. It's just the perfect joint.

So he gets to singing us a little melody in his head, and it just came about. And the title, "Pussy Good." So it's sweet; hell of a song, man, shout out to Jim. It's sweet to get with those bigger producers and see how they see the music for you. It was just a hell of an opportunity to work with a producer of that magnitude and have something to inspire me and pull something new out of me. It was sweet, man, hell of an experience working with the homie, man.