Memphis native OG Boo Dirty is having a hell of a week. Beyond celebrating his birthday with the release of his debut album, Billionaire Dreams, Konflict Music has welcomed OG with open arms. Akon christened OG Boo Dirty's sound as "reality rap reincarnated."
The album's been a long time coming. Since 2011, OG has released a series of mixtapes, Southern-drenched snapshots of the struggle that he hopes people can relate to. As he told REVOLT, "If you come from a past that haunts you or a past that you just can’t get away from ... you gon feel me." Akon and OG spoke with REVOLT in the midst of a whirlwind press tour, and the respect the two men share for each other was like listening to Master Po and Caine.
Congratulations on your first album! What was your thought process and influences as you put it together?
OG Boo Dirty: Basically a Southern Memphis sound like Project Pat, the Three 6’s, bringing the Down South sound back. Like, everybody running with the Atlanta sound — the Migos, the Young Thugs — everybody running with that style so I wanted to bring my own city style back.
Why is it important to you to rep for Memphis, Tennessee?
OBD: Because everyone forgot about it. Project Pat, he went Platinum. You know what I mean? Project Pat did what he did and went and did jail time; people forgot about him. Younger people under my generation don’t know Project Pat ... the people that’s younger than me think it’s all me, but I’m really paying homage to a legend.
Do you have any rules or rituals in the studio?
OBD: Only rules I got is just give my phone to the manager. I don’t get a chance to talk to nobody the time I’m in there, just put in work. And get ready. That’s all I know how to do is get focused, stay in a positive vibe, and keep my surroundings clear.
Akon, what made you interested in signing OG to Konvict Music?
Akon: I was just so refreshed to hear reality rap again. He had this record called “My Daddy” that I was listening to, and it was so relevant to what was going on, and it was one of them timeless records that no matter when you release it as long as there’s ghettos and people out there that grew up with a single father or a single mother ... so his lyrics just kinda caught me more than anything.
And then when I got to meet him we clicked instantly. He’s one of those guys, he listens, he don’t trip, he wanna get to understand how the business works, and more importantly, he wanna be sort of an icon for his community. He wanna be the guy that others can look up to and become an outlet for others to make it out. He don’t just think about himself, and that’s what intrigued me the most about him.
How would you describe OG’s sound?
Akon: It’s reality rap reincarnated. I like hearing songs that’s related to real-life situations, songs tht relate to people living today, in areas like struggle. Those are records that I can continue to sing 'cause I been there and I done it, and I have more passion for singing about the struggle because I went through it. But now if I was to sing about struggle and those kinda records, people won't believe me because they’d be looking like, man you ain't struggling no mo!
But it’s not really for me. When I sing those kids of songs it ain't for me. I’m the success story, but it’s a lot of people out there that’s still going through it, and I know sometimes my voice can be that extra helping hand that can get them through it. But I know how music is. Music is so right now and you have to be so believable. Sometimes the song, no matter how much great content it is, if they don’t believe you singing it, they can't really feel it like that, so I gotta relive those moments through OG, you know what I’m saying?
How has having that stamp from Akon helped you?
OBD: It’s like it’s a cheat code. They won’t let me do what I wanna do; they make sure I stay on task. Like when I get sidetracked and wanna do other things, I receive a call like a big brother call, a father call like, "Yo you got to stay focused, you got to do this, you too close, if you don’t make it now it just wasn’t meant to be." So basically he keeps me in order to where I wanna keep doing this, I wanna keep making the music, I wanna stay out the way, I wanna stay out of trouble. So I just want to base myself around the positive vibe and keep going forward 'til it’s my turn.
You two are on opposite ends of the spectrum: This is OG’s first album, meanwhile you’ve been able to sustain a career over a number of years. What have you learned about obtaining longevity?
Akon: It’s three main elements in it. The fist element is you gotta stay working on your last album as hard as you was working on your first album. I don’t think your work ethic should ever change because the competition is so steep, and the moment you take that two-second breather somebody else is in that spot doing what you thought you was gon' be doing the best at.
Secondly, originality. Always find new ways to reinvent yourself. Me, I was blessed to be a writer, producer and an artist, so I always had three choices. So you may not hear albums coming out on me, you hear the records that I had something to do with; whether I’m writing ‘em or producing ‘em, I’m constantly in the business.
I just feel like in terms of longevity, you gotta put people on. That’s what keeps you going, it preserves your success, because every time someone that you put on becomes successful, your name is attached to it, so that keeps you relevant. As long as you putting people on, helping people build their careers you're always gonna be in a good place within the industry.
OG, what's been the most surprising part of putting out your first album?
OBD: Patience. What I mean by that is that, when I thought I was ready, I wasn’t ready. When I thought everything was on point, it wasn’t. When I thought the mixes was right, it wasn't. When I thought the right features was there, it wasn’t. He got a different eye and a different ear, a different look, a whole different instinct at the things I don’t because I never been here before. I never saw the side that he looking at, so by the business mind that he got and everything that he got going on in his life, I’m on the outside looking in, but he understand what he looking for. I can’t possibly understand what he looking for until it works.
And finally, for someone who is new to OG Boo Dirty, why should they listen to Billionaire Dreams?
OBD: I represent the struggle. Anybody that’s been in the struggle or still in the struggle or know how it feels not to have nothing — light bill need [to be] paid and cut off for two days until you get it back on — if you ever been in that type of lifestyle you’ll understand me. Like if you come from a past that haunts you or a past that you just can’t get away from, or your father left you at a young age or yo mama died at a young age you gon' feel me, ‘cause I went through everything everybody else went through.
I can’t get on ths microphone and act like I got a billion dollars already, or a 20-bedroom house, I can't do that. I gotta stick to what I been through. I can't get on these microphones rappin' about Akon life. How I'ma make a living rapping about somebody else life? Like he just said, he can’t rap about the struggle no more, so that’s what I do. But basically I hope I can be able to say I can't rap about the struggle no more, I can pass it along to another young artist that come from where I come from. Until then I got to represent the struggle until it’s my turn.
Billionaire Dreams is available on OGBooDirty.com, and hits all major streaming platforms next week.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.