Gangsta Boo, the only female member of Three 6 Mafia, has a bright smile. If you spend some time with her, that smile usually makes an appearances after she says something ratchet or when she’s checking her teeth using a Tinker Bell cosmetic case. Reflected in the tiny mirror is the Memphis bred-and-born Lola Mitchell, donning bamboo earrings, a nose ring, and a beanie embroidered with the words “Gangsta.”
Mostly known for her 1998 hit, “Where Dem Dollas At?,” and membership in Three 6 Mafia until 2001 (twelve years later, she would join Da Mafia 6ix sans the de facto 3-6 leader, Juicy J), Gangsta Boo played a role in southern rap unlike that of any other female MCs. To this day, she boasts a surprising cult following.
After all these years, Gangsta Boo is still making music and touring. Her collaborative album with La Chat, Witch, is slated for May 27, and the video for their single, "Bitchy," was released earlier this month. But right now, she’s sitting in a restaurant on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan talking about guns, the first time she recorded with Three 6 Mafia, and how she found her way back into the Oscar winning group.
Interview by Jon Reyes (@JonReyes)
You’ve been in the game for 15 years, what lessons have you learned?
You can’t have everybody in your ear telling you how to handle your business. You have to make decisions for yourself, follow your mind and your instincts. I learned that the hard way. I left Three 6 Mafia a little too early. I could have played my position, but I didn’t because I had people in my ear. Shit, [then] they won that goddamn Oscar. [Laughs.]
When your first album, Enquiring Minds, came out in 1998, there were a lot of female rappers like Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, Da Brat. What’s your take on the current state of females in rap?
I think that bitches is jealous of each other and shame on them. I hope they get it together. Chicks are really catty and want to be the only one to shine. I share my spotlight because I’m gonna shine regardless. A lot of chicks don’t like to share the stage with other women.
Chicks are really catty and want to be the only one to shine. I share my spotlight because I’m gonna shine regardless.
Do you remember the first rap you ever recorded?
I remember the first song I did with Three 6 Mafia. I was 15. It’s called “Cheefa Da Reefa.” We recorded it in a little closet. The whole song was about smoking bud. Back then it was regular weed, no good weed. Tragedy. I was 15 and it was like ‘94 or ‘95.
I think to myself, “Goddamn, I’m from the fucking ‘90s.” I might as well fucking say I’m Marvin Gaye and say I’m from the ‘70s. What’s the difference? It’s almost like the ‘90s was here. But when we were in the ‘90s it just seemed like it’s some Back to the Future shit. Our ‘90s is our 2000s.
I heard you took some time off because of a “conversion to Christianity.” When was that?
In 2001, when I left the group. I had been famous, especially in Memphis, since I was like 14 because Three 6 Mafia had always been big. So we were traveling through Mississippi, Nashville, Atlanta. I never listened to my parents. I was always a wild child but not wild as far as [being] promiscuous. Wild as far as being a tomboy, I got a gun, I got my regular weed, and I’m rolling with my niggas. By the time I turned 21, all the stuff I did in the past caught up to me.
You carried a gun?
Yeah, Crunchy Black gave me my first gun. I had a .38, then I upgraded to a .357 revolver—long nose. I was 16-years-old and would shoot it. But now, I hate guns. I’m like, “Get that fucking gun away from me.”
So all that caught up to you...
Yeah. I got depressed and it wasn’t going right in my mind with being in the group. I wanted to try a different religion. Growing up, all I knew was God and blah blah blah. So I tried that and found out that really wasn’t for me. I rather be spiritual than religious. I don’t like organized religion.
I was in search for some positive energy and light, I got that. It helped me to evolve into who I am; into a person now. I have a conscious. Even if I did some fucked up shit on purpose, I still regret it and be like, “Fuck!”
How long were you away after you converted?
Two years. I said I wasn’t going to curse in my music no more. When I was 18, I didn’t think that I would be rapping in my 30s. You say what you think you’re gonna be doing in five or 10 years but how the fuck do you know? So I’m back to cursing.
How did you find your way back into Da Mafia 6ix?
[DJ Paul] found me. Really, we doing it for the fans. We probably don’t even like each other, we probably actually like the fans more than we like each other. Nah, I’m playing. We love each other, we got too much history. But we love our fans and they wanted to see this.
Was it a phone call?
It was a conference call with everybody, even Lord Infamous. It was really him who put the group back together. Him and DJ Paul was about to do an album and he was like, “No, I want the whole group.” Rest in peace, Lord Infamous, thank you.
Crunchy Black gave me my first gun. I had a .38, then I upgraded to a .357 revolver—long nose. I was 16-years-old and would shoot it.
Why did DJ Paul send a Twitter update confirming you were still in the group?
I told him to do it because I did 33 straight tour dates with them and I wanted to hop off the tour and promote “Bitchy.” When I wasn’t on a few of those shows people assumed that we got into it. I’m like, “Paul, this is making me uncomfortable because I have to talk to these fucking fans that think I’m out the group. You need to tweet something.” So that’s why he did it.
What was it like touring?
We bonded. I love them, no matter what. We fight just like brother and sister, but they’re my dudes. They’re all I know. I used to get the question, “What’s it like being the only girl in the group?” I was like, “Oh, it’s nothing. I don’t fuck with bitches anyway. I hang with dudes.” Being on that tour made me realize I don’t want to be around a bunch of dudes all the time. It sucks. I don’t want to be looked at as one of the guys because I’m a woman. I got tits and ass.
What's next after your new album with La Chat, Witches, comes out on May 24th?
I want to go on tour with La Chat. I want tour forever, like an old rock band. I want to be married and touring on the bus with my husband and my family. On separate buses. [Laughs.] Not [from] Chat, but with whoever I tour with, I need my own shit. If it’s not a girl, I want my own bus. I do not want to bus with a bunch of boys no more.
What was your favorite part of working with La Chat?
Opening her up and bringing out the best in her. She already had it, but she’s a mom, she’s a daughter, and a real family person. Whereas I’m kind of a traveler because I don’t have a child. So I be like, “I’m gone.”