44. Lil Boosie
From: Baton Rouge, LA
Signature Song: Lil Boosie "Top To the Bottom" (2010)
"It's time to introduce Lil Boosie Boo or should I say Lil Boosie/The one who rap bout killin', shootin', and marijuana distribution." So began Lil Boosie's scene-stealing verse on South Coast Coalition's "Livin' What I'm Spittin," a song title that could also serve as a statement of purpose for Boosie's brand of "reality rap."
Although he's had dalliances with the pop charts, like a guest spot on Foxx's "Wipe Me Down," Boosie's strength is in a catalog that he spent the bulk of the 2000s building, until his arrest on gun and drug charges in 2009. His scratchy vocals and gripping delivery cut through the noise on every track he appears on, and helped make him a fan favorite on the southern touring circuit, depicting himself as a man of the people and a gun-toting drug trafficker unafraid to shoot, fighting murder cases while buying food and toys for local children in his neighborhood.
Epitomizing the schizophrenic tensions latent in all gangster rap, Boosie seems to understand, intrinsically, the resonances that drive hip-hop's street audience. He lashes out against corrupt police ("Fuck The Police"), laments duplicity with particularly visceral anguish (Betrayed ") and explores the darkest side of his own psyche ("Mind of a Maniac"). It's compelling drama, made moreso by the lines between fact and art that his music so often disregards.