It's been one year since Boosie Badazz was released from prison after serving nearly five years in the Louisiana justice system. His release on March 5, 2014 was celebrated throughout the hip-hop community, with fans and rappers alike tweeting and Instagramming their celebrations and welcoming home one of the finest street rappers of his generation. Boosie's case hit home for many; in 2010 while locked up on drug charges he was indicted for 1st degree murder and facing down the death penalty with lawyers threatening to use his lyrics against him, an experience which would eventually title his comeback mixtape, Life After Deathrow(Boosie was acquitted of those charges.)

Boosie has been hard at work of late—maybe too hard, as his recent hospitalization for dehydration could suggest—touring and finalizing his first album in five years, Touch Down 2 Cause Hell. If his mixtape and recent feature spots on albums from Jeezy, T.I. and Rick Ross suggest, it could be one of the most raw and real releases of the year, a return to form in a world that embraces him on a higher level than it did before he went to prison. While behind bars, his regional fame blossomed into a national audience, opening his music up to the world beyond the southern United States.

Last month, XXL spent three days traveling through the American South with Boosie and his crew for a feature story that will appear in the upcoming issue of XXL Magazine, moving from Atlanta through Mobile and eventually cruising around his hometown of Baton Rouge. During the trip, we sat with Boosie Badazz to talk about the ups and downs of his first full year of freedom since his legal nightmare finally came to an end. Here are some selected outtakes from that interview and stay tuned for the full story in the next issue of XXL. —Dan Rys

XXL: You live in Atlanta now, right?
Boosie Badazz: Right, right, yeah.

When you first came home you were living in New Orleans?
Yeah, when I first came home I was livin' in New Orleans for about four months, five months, then I got my parole switched to Georgia. So I've been in Georgia ever since.

Why did you want to move to Atlanta?
Bigger city. I feel like in Atlanta I'm not as big of a target; I can fit in, you know? It was kind of life reasons and family reasons, and business reasons why I wanted to move to Atlanta.

How often do you get back to Baton Rouge?
I might go back once every two months. If I have something closed down here I go down here, but I'm busy on the road right now.

When you first came home you said you had 1,000 songs. What did that mean? How did you start sifting through that?
I had [a lot of] papers I wrote on. Half of them was already in my head, hooks and shit like that. I had done maybe 100 songs since I've been home. Once I drop the album, my label, Bad Azz Music Syndicate, we just gonna flood the streets with music, man.

So a lot of those are going to see the light of day?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. We just basically gonna mass produce the streets with Boosie music. It's just, we gotta get this album. The mixtape, the album, then let's blast this game.

Because with the mixtape, all those songs, the way you were rapping and what you were talking about, it sounded like they were written after you got home.
Yeah, yeah. Some of it was written in jail, most of it was written out of jail. I just felt it was a great mixtape for the streets.

You first said, too, in the first couple months that the album was coming in July, then there were gonna be two albums. What changed?
Man, this music stuff crazy, man. I felt like I already had the albums, but when it comes down to paperwork a lot of dudes play games with beats, and whatever. There be a lot of things going on with the music that make it get set back. Right now I'm at a point where I was gonna do a double disc, but now I'm gonna put 20 on a single disc and 26 on iTunes. So you know, I'm hustlin', man. [Laughs] You gotta go get the other ones. So that's the plan right now.

You've got a restructured record deal, your own clothing line. Was there any specific thing that happened that shifted your mind more towards the business side of things?
Just sittin' in prison, reading music books. Knowing my craft, or knowing what I can do to make more money. Knowing my wealth. It's just expanding my brand, just besides rapping also, you know. Just a whole different hustle. But music is where it started, so everything else branches off that.

It seems like that's always the hardest part for young rappers, is understanding and figuring out the business side of things.
Right, because most people come in here and they be like, you know, we be young. So we're all gonna make mistakes, it's just learning from your mistakes. Once you learn from your mistakes and you tighten up your hustle and you know your business, you get rich. That's basically true with anything.

What's going on with Trill right now? Because after you went away, everything kind of fell apart there, Turk and Mel were on trial—
Right now with Trill, basically we focused on me. I basically have my own thing going with Bad Azz Music Syndicate, my label, so we finna mass product the streets. Right now, I'm Trill's focused artist right now. I'm hearing that after this album, after we push the label launch of the Bad Azz Music Syndicate, we gonna see if we gonna do that Gangsta Muzik 2, me and Webbie, you know. Aw, man, I'm ready, I'm ready. [Laughs] I'm ready.

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I was gonna ask about your relationship with Webbie. He was such a big advocate for you when you went away.
That's my boy; me and Webbie been together since we were teenagers. Since I was 15, 17 years old, we been in the studio together. We from different hoods, but we been in the studio together, you know. Basically we like brothers. We done been through everything together. We went through some shit, we been through some shit on this road, 'cause we been on the road a long time, man. We been on the road gettin' money a long time. We been had those fans that will always love our music. We like brothers.

You've got the clothing line now too, Jewel House, right?
Right, it's doing great. I launched that maybe 10 months ago, soon as I came home. It's doing great, man, I'm blessed. I'm in the stores everywhere, man. So quick! It was so quick; everything we were putting up, because it was Boosie, my fans were eating that up, they eating it up online. I'm just grateful for that. I just feel like I made muthafuckas millions for years, wearing their clothes. Coogi shoulda been gave me that big ole bag a long time ago. LRG, you know. I'm in this business. I coulda been the focal point for a lot of people that I coulda took them to the top, but everything happen for a reason. Now I got my own shit, now I'ma get paid.

Are you designing, or are you running the business?
I'm helping out on the design; before we do anything I look over it and check it out. But man, we doin' surprising numbers. The people are on it. They say, Damn, he a star. We picked the right one, you know? [Laughs] They'll tell you, we picked the right one.

When you first came home, what was the atmosphere like for you? The industry embraced you right away, but after those first couple weeks, what was it like? Were you straight in the studio all the time, or was there a period of down time where you were like, Let me figure this out a little bit?
Nah. At that time, I was just in the studio with my kids. I had all my kids with me, and we was just ballin'. [Laughs] That's all we did all summer. Those first two weeks, my kids took off school for a week and we just went shopping, you know, I was straight. It just felt so good being home. It just felt so good being home, I just wanted to enjoy myself.

What about industry-wise, with other musicians? I know you've said that Jeezy and Gotti held you down...
Basically, Jeezy, that's my dawg, that's my homie. Call the homie, he gonna look out. Gotti looked out for me too, man, I catch Gotti, I tell people Gotti is good. Trae Tha Truth used to look out for me, too. Got a couple real cats in the rap game, man, that's why I fuck with them. If a dude will do something for me, if a dude show me realness, when he call me for a record I'ma get on that record, period, on the strength of my dude.

I'm always tryna help people get bigger and bigger and bigger. I might hear somebody record who I fuck with and I'm like, "Man, that shoulda been my verse! I woulda killed that muthafucka!" So I always look out for somebody else, too. I want everybody to blow. Everybody whose solid, I want everybody to blow.

With the Ferguson situation, you're almost uniquely placed in knowing how the system can fuck people over. Is that something that you really want to convey on your album?
Exactly. It's talked about, but it's not a focal point of my album, of what they do to us. That's not a focal point. More of a focal point is, you know, I'm out now. But you definitely gonna get a feel for what they did to me.

Is there anything you've learned the most about the, so to speak, "new" record industry in the year since you've been out?
It was a good thing to move to Atlanta. [Laughs] 'Cause that's the music capital. You can go right around the corner and get on a track with anybody you wanna get on with. And I'm the type of nigga, I got work ethic. If you're willing to work, I'm willing to work. 'Cause music make money. That's what make money. And we like makin' money. So I just learned that, basically, networking. When dudes call tellin' me they got a deposit, fuck that, jump on a jet, we gonna go get it. You might change your mind; FaceTime me. FaceTime me 100 bands, I'm finna fly to your muthafuckin' ass right now 'fore you change your mind. [Laughs] So I just learned, you can't really wait no more. You gotta just really go get it. And that's what I came home with, a real go-getter mindframe. Since I came home I've been booked every damn weekend. You know, so I need to take a damn rest, I need a vacation, ya heard. [Laughs]

It's funny; Migos, Quan, Thug, all these guys are all on records with each other. And I was there yesterday; Street Execs, Freebandz, DTP, they're all right around the corner from each other, and everybody's working with each other. That must be a really creative atmosphere.
Right, I got records with Rocko, I got records with Scooter, I got records with Migos. Four or five with Rich Homie. It's just dudes paper chasin' to get money, and I'm one of the dudes paper chasing. That's what makes me successful. You know, I got kids.

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Are all of your legal situations resolved? You're on parole—
I'm on parole and I'm on probation.

Does that restrict travel for you?
Yeah. Before I go somewhere I gotta let my P.O. know. Drug test before I go, whenever I come back in town drug test again. But they let me fly anywhere I go. You know, I gotta get my money, they gotta let me get my money. I'm a real entertainer. [Laughs]

One of the things I thought was interesting in listening to your new music is you mention Bobby Shmurda and his situation, almost as similar in a way to your own.
Right, right, right. I just feel like, man, when you young, bruh, and you rapping what they feel like can start an epidemic, if they feel like you a real star... I feel like they go out of bounds and make it personal sometimes. I just feel for dude, 'cause I know what he goin' through. That's why I be hollerin' "Free Shmurda," man, 'cause don't forget about a nigga when he in jail, man. That's a nigga goin' through some crazy stuff, and I went through that, so I know how he is in that cell, you know what I'm sayin'? But yeah, that was it.

It was strange when that got announced, because a lot of people were laughing at him online. But it was like, the real issue was, kid finally found a way out and then everything he had to do to get there caught up with him before he actually made it.
Right, right. And that's what it do, man. That's why it's just best to... I don't know, man. It's crazy with these hip-hop police and things like that. They designed to try to bust you. I deeply feel a superstar is not supposed to be treated like that. But that's all a part of the game, and you just gotta be ready.

I also wanted to ask you about the name change. You're going by Boosie Badazz now officially.
I just took the Lil off Boosie, 'cause I just felt like, Damn, how long am I gonna be called Lil? That's how I really felt, you know? I'm a whole G out here, been a G. I don't have lil problems, shit. Damn, Boosie Badazz. Put a stamp on that, damn. I run a whole record label, I'm a whole entrepreneur. That's how I just felt; I'm like, man, I don't want this, don't put that on there.

What are some of the things you enjoy doing, some of your favorite things you get to do since you've been home? What you do when you've got time for yourself?
I appreciate being in my home in a big-ole ass house. With my kids, going swimming. Those are the best times. The rest of the time, that's work. That's clocking in. The best times are when we celebrating. When we just have fun; them the best times for me. The rest of it is just work. No worries, look at us now. "Whatchu want, baby?" You know, stuff like that. Minks everywhere; those the best times. [Laughs] The rest of this, these clubs every other nights, arenas, that's work, man, that's real work. This that, if you don't get enough rest your body will shut down-type of work. People think rappers just... Nah, it's hard to get rest in this. You land in another city, it's in-stores, club that night, fly out that morning, you get to another city and it's the same thing. For real. Man.

We're less than a month away from your one-year anniversary of freedom, March 5. You got anything planned for that day?
I might just be prayin' somewhere, ya heard. I might just be prayin' somewhere. The year at home has been the best year of my life. It's been the best year of my life, and I still got a month. It's crazy right now. I might just do something with the family. March 5, I think I might name it Real Nigga Holiday. The day I came home, that was a real nigga holiday, I said that in a song. So I'm thinking, not this year, but next year we're gonna do a little get-together, maybe have a parade.