Finally, at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, the crowd at Webster Hall's mid-size Marlin Room had filled out, and folks had been dancing to a bounce mix just as Boosie Badazz crept up the steps at stage-left, mic in hand, ready to tear shit up. Boosie held that stage for about 90 seconds, a brief and tumultuous term that ended, abruptly, with his vomiting across the stage, plunging back down the steps, and being escorted from the building to seek medical attention, or maybe just relief.
Five or so minutes before Boosie made his way to the stage, his tour DJ and host DJ Envy of Power 105 both warned the crowd that Boosie had, for unspecified reasons, been rushed to a local hospital earlier that day. His doctors discharged him quickly enough, and so Boosie performed against some better judgment. Boosie is famously diabetic. He is recently clean. In February, he was hospitalized due to severe dehydration while en route to perform at a concert in Charlotte, N.C. From where I was standing in the crowd at Webster Hall, Boosie looked old and overworked, though dutifully excited. He was not so fresh from those five years he spent in Louisiana prisons.
In any case, he took the stage at 9:30 p.m., only 30 minutes after the concert's listed start time.
Boosie waved and made eye contact across the nearest rows of attendees. I was standing just a couple yards away and quickly noticed, however, that Boosie's eyes had gone glassy and nausea or some other agony had struck him; you could tell just by reading his face. He was winded. As he rapped, Boosie lost his breath every four bars, swallowing big air and struggling to reconnect with the beat and his backing track.
Once K-Camp's recorded hook kicked back in, Boosie heaved twice, turned his back to the stage, and vomited at the feet of his DJ. The attendees gasped and, depending on their typical nerve at the sight of vomit, either pressed closer to the stage or turned away and shielded their eyes. There was no mayhem, however, just sudden confusion and deflation as Boosie fled.
After Boosie's team rushed him out through the lobby, his tour DJ, who never left the stage, made several announcements and apologies between tracks of the setlist that he nonetheless continued to play. The crowd, though briefly distressed, was still dancing. I sent three urgent updates through to my editors before the DJ played "Wipe Me Down," which had me ignoring my phone (shoved to my pocket) and bouncing with former colleague and fellow Southerner Elena Bergeron, the biggest Boosie fan I know.
At 9:55 p.m., an Atlantic Records publicist at the scene confirmed to another one of our correspondents, Eric Diep, that Boosie had left the venue. No ambulance was called to the scene. At 10 p.m., Boosie's tour DJ offered one final apology and yielded the stage to a house mix with the volume turned way down. There was no massively irritated rush for the doors. About 40 attendees lingered at the stage to give the DJ their contact information and Instagram handles, which he'd requested.
Given that Boosie's performance at Webster Hall was scheduled to coincide with the release date of his new album—Boosie's first full retail project since his release from Angola in 2014—his illness is both a personal and professional disaster, and cause for concern among his fans. Boosie is scheduled to perform in Oklahoma City on Thursday evening, with festival stops in Texas and Tennessee later this summer.
We will continue to investigate the medical causes of last night's fiasco. For now, I'd prefer to believe that Boosie Badazz of Baton Rouge was simply allergic to New York City. Ninety seconds into his performing a remix, Boosie's very first Manhattan concert sent him running for the Turnpike, and there I was, just about to follow him.
A video posted by djenvy (@djenvy) on May 26, 2015 at 10:10pm PDT
Justin Charity is a staff writer for Complex. Follow him @brothernumpsa. Additional reporting from Eric Diep.