Pittsburgh MC Boaz signed to Rostrum Records back in June and dropped his project, Bases Loaded, on the indie label last month. It's been a long time coming; he's been in the game since 2003, and worked independently for years, but now he's looking to branch out.
Boaz links up with Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, and Schoolboy Q on his debut, and when he sat down with Complex we talked about those collabs, along with his city's music scene and what it took to get past his days of rapping in a funeral parlor.
Interview by Lauren Nostro (@LAURENcynthia)
What has the feedback been like since dropping Bases Loaded in September?
The feedback has been very good. Very rampant—more rampant than any other project I came out with. I’m at a point in my career where it just means growth. The industry’s moving so fast.
I know you’ve been on the scene since 2003, so that’s more than 10 years. How did you get into rapping in the first place?
I think just rap having such an impact on the culture, growing up in an impoverished area on the east end of Pittsburgh, in a community called Larimer.”
What was your childhood like?
Childhood was great. It was a big learning experience, just coming up with your back to the wall. You have to work hard straight out of the gate. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t expect it to be, but it was a beautiful thing. Pittsburgh is a beautiful place to grow up.
You have to work hard straight out of the gate. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t expect it to be, but it was a beautiful thing. Pittsburgh is a beautiful place to grow up.
Were you into music as a child? You played clarinet, didn't you?
I did. I could [play that on a track], but I’m so busy with what I’m doing now.
I know, but a lot of your beats have orchestral background and that has to influence your music.
Certainly. It’s just my taste in music is more gravitated to the soulfulness. I just love instruments.
When you were starting to rap, who influenced you?
The great artists that still working today. The likes of Jay-Z, Nas, just pretty much everybody who’s made a footprint and who’s left a strand of inspiration along the way. To see those guys keep doing it at such a high level for such a long time—that’s been my inspiration.
I [find inspiration] pretty much everywhere else. I come outside, and I see the people. It’s kind of funny. I was getting dressed this morning, trying to figure it out, and I just looked out the window. And you see, everything’s just moving so fast. You just find inspiration from everywhere.
Tell me about this funeral home that you recorded in for the very first time.
My good partner’s grandfather owns a funeral home, Coston Funeral Home. It’s a real popular funeral home on the east side. When I first met him, he would try to take us there to scare us up a bit.
That sounds creepy.
We got used to it. His grandfather had an old karaoke set where they held the funerals at for if people wanted to sing. One day we had just found some instrumental tapes and realized the microphone worked, and I’ve been inspired to be a rapper ever since. [Laughs]
What was the first thing that you rapped? Do you remember it back then?
Goodness. I couldn’t remember. I remember coming into the house, and seeing my older brother and his friend. They had been listening to a CD, and back in the day they used to put on this single with the instrumental. The instrumental came on and I heard them in there fucking around, just saying shit, and I went in the room and said a few things. I saw how it interested them, and how I kind of captivated them. For me, I’ve just been inspired, whenever I saw a microphone or instrument, I couldn’t keep my hands off it.
I saw how it interested them, and how I kind of captivated them. For me, I’ve just been inspired, whenever I saw a microphone or instrument, I couldn’t keep my hands off it.
When you started rapping in 2003, you were doing things independently.
It was fun. It was a learning experience. It got me to where I’m at right now. It was something I wanted to do. I was just inspired by all the other musicians who were becoming businessmen and starting labels for themselves. It was a great learning experience, I still got my company, Point Blank Productions, and we still intend on doing certain things.”
Right, you own Point Blank Productions, and you’re still working with that label now?
Yes, but I am signed to Rostrum Records.