The city of Baltimore has almost become synonymous with drugs and crime, but there is more to the Southeastern city than just missing lamppost lights and drugs. There is a whole Hip-Hop scene and sound that has even up until now been unscathed. Home to record executives and athletes, Baltimore is a city begging to make a name for itself in places other than a derogatory list. Bossman who was born and raised in the city of the trade, is hoping to shed some positive light on the city where Jay-Z, 50 Cent and the Notorious B.I.G all praised to be the place where they made the most cash and show that although Baltimore has been through “The Wire”, all it takes is a Bossman to place it on top. Virgin records new rookie has more than his city on his shoulders and a lot to prove not only to the industry, but Hip-Hop as a whole. The soul survivor of a drug infested family and two parents that were incarcerated by the time Bossman hit his teens, the 24 year old emcee thrives on the challenge and is ready to show the world who the boss truly is. All Hip-Hop.com got a chance to speak with Bossman in his hometown and see what it is that makes him stand out in the crowd.
AllHipHop.com: First things first, why do you think that Baltimore is so overlooked on the Hip-Hop scene?
Bossman: I think that basically if you look at our history that we have had in Hip-Hop, we have had people that had a chance but never got it to pop. Like B-Rich, he had a nice single with the “Whoa Now” joint, but at the end of the day all he had was the nice single. So that wasn’t a good look for Baltimore or for himself, the other artist Comp that was signed to Def Jam, never came out. So I definitely feel I have something to prove and show everyone that we have a sound too, and now you can definitely come here and find some real talent because now we are ready.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think that you will be able to show a different side of Baltimore, because when people think of Baltimore they think of the drug trade?
Bossman: Yeah, definitely. I mean it will be tales of that in it, because I have been here all my life, and grew I grew up in it. With me, mainly it was my family, because I grew up with parents who hustled and were addicted to drugs and ultimately ended up incarcerated – and a brother who was selling drugs to my father who, was hooked on drugs. [I tried them too], because that’s what I grew up around. So don’t think that when I address the topic it will be promoting the lifestyle, instead it will show a different side, like what it does to families. Because it was hard for me to basically raise myself and stay on the positive route but honestly I saw music as my way out. AllHipHop.com: Growing up in a family affected by both the selling and using of drugs, how do you feel about the rappers who promote hustling as the thing to do? Bossman: Honestly, I can’t knock anybody for doing what they do. I don’t want to contradict myself, because I am not completely positive. I don’t know how other people grew up that made them choose that lifestyle, but what I can do is show the realness of it, and show my aspect of it. I mean, I know real dudes that made getting money their life, and there are certain codes that they live by. To me, if you are really living that lifestyle, you wouldn’t promote it to kids like it’s the thing to do; you would look at it like what it is-your choice. Really, if people look at it, the worst rappers are the ones who contradict themselves. You can’t be like, “Don’t sell drugs and smoke weed,” nor can you act like you don’t give a f**k on records, and tell your kids not to do it; kids see that and don’t know what to think. If you are going to go hard, go hard.
AllHipHop.com: How are you dealing with the pressures of not only establishing Baltimore on the map, but also your label because people responded poorly to Jermaine Dupri’s Young, Fly, and Flashy and SunNY’s project…
Bossman: Well, the pressure of neither one of them is getting to me, I mean, with the success that I have had on the underground; I pretty much know that I can sell anywhere – if they market me right and stick to the script. Honestly, it’s hard being on any label, not knocking Virgin, but the industry is so Pop and single driven that labels have a hard time trying to market real artists without turning them into someone else, or presenting them as something they’re not. The industry now isn’t like what it was back in the day, there was no marketing [then], because artists gained fans by letting you get to know them.
AllHipHop.com: That’s true because one of my favorite artists is Nas and although I didn’t care too much for NAStradamus, I bought it any way though just because it was Nas.
Bossman: That’s what I am saying, you bought it because he made you like him as a person, and when artists establish that type of rapport with the fans, you can do what they feel creatively, and know that your fans will stick by you. Not because you made a hot song, but because they like the artist. Don’t get me wrong, I have a song that will knock in the club, but you can’t make a whole album with singles… well you can, but you won’t last.
AllHipHop.com: As a “rookie” in the industry what do you feel is the biggest block in creativity in the game, because when you are fresh from the independent route you have a different view on creativity than if you have been in the game for a while?
Bossman: I think that the lack of creativity comes from artists letting the labels mold them, because they don’t know who they are. I think that is the worst thing for an artist to do is let someone tell you what direction to go with your music, because let’s say you do that and flop, then try to create a sound that is really you but a totally different direction, people ain’t going to feel you because they are like-“I thought the other sound was you?”. So as an artist, whether new or established, you have to make sure you know who you are and what type of sound that is true to you, because if not fans will see right through it.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think working with Jermaine gives you an advantage or a disadvantage, because when some people think of Jermaine Dupri and his projects, they think of Pop or little kid rap?
Bossman: I think that working with Jermaine is definitely to my advantage, I mean although he is known for more of a Pop type of work, this dude has brought some stuff to the studio that makes you think twice. I mean he really takes his time to get to know you as an artist and your style so that the beats and stuff he brings to the table for you, is really you. So, I think the fact that you don’t see me all up under him in the videos and in pictures is a benefit for both of us because you don’t stigmatize or taint either one of us. All in all I think that music will speak for itself and in the end our situation is going to be similar to that of Young Jeezy and Jay-Z.
AllHipHop.com: What do think about Cam’ron dissing Jay-Z and then holding a press conference about it, do you think that Rap has gone to the point now where it’s just a circus?
Bossman: Well, I think that if the beef is real. Like, if two artists really have problems with each other, then it’s all good. But if you are doing it just to promote an album, then you are wack because people can see through it. Dealing with Cam and Jay, Cam is a cool dude and I don’t have no problems with him, and I know that he has had problems with Jay for a while so I feel the diss record was appropriate. But to hold a press conference about it, [laughs] I don’t know, maybe he felt that he needed to explain some things about the situation he is dealing with.
AllHipHop.com: Dealing with your album, why did you name it Law and Order?
Bossman: I named it Law and Order for a lot of different reasons. From a musical standpoint to me, the game is running wild and there is no law or no order. I don’t think that people are following the original laws of being you and that is why stuff is so out of order, and we have all these one-hit artists coming out. I mean look back at like ‘94 and ‘96, to me those were the best years in Hip-Hop because there was such a different array of sound, you had Wu-Tang, Gang Starr, Tupac, Death Row, Biggie, Outkast, I mean the list goes on and on, so if you didn’t like what Wu was bringing, you could listen to Nas, you didn’t like that you could listen to Death Row; now it’s more like you stuck listening to one thing with no alternative.
AllHipHop.com:: Do you believe in labels on projects, like ‘underground’ and ‘commercial’?
Bossman: No, not really because I feel that if an artist is just being them and their song is hot and happens to get played on the radio, that doesn’t make them commercial, that just means the masses are feeling them. I think commercial is when the artist goes completely against who they are to sell records, and get played on the radio, that is commercial to me. Some people hate and say stuff like Nelly is not [Hip-Hop], but Nelly is rap; he’s doing him-he’s representing who he is and where he’s from which is genuine and that’s why he is successful. He’s better than the rapper that comes out sounding like someone else. So I give him all his props.
AllHipHop.com: Coming from the independent circuit and then signing to a major label, if you had your choice which would you prefer?
Bossman: Honestly, I would go the independent route just because you don’t have to answer to anyone about creative decisions. I think that’s why the South is popping off like it is, because no one in the majors wanted to give them a shot, so they made their own way and now look.