Profile: Boaz

boazEssentially creating a lane for successful hip-hop acts in Pittsburg, PA, Rostrum Records has cultivated the lucrative careers of Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller. Next up to bat is Boaz Bey, or simply Boaz. Describing himself as a “fly brother, all around hustler and extraordinary musician,” the MC says growing up in the area of Larimer and watching hip-hop’s growth during the ‘90s gave him music aspirations. Helps that he came from a musically inclined family as well. “Music is something I’ve always been inspired by, and hip-hop was something I just gravitated to,” he adds. Boaz remembers his early fascination with Will Smith’s turn in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and House Party’s Kid & Play as forming his approach to relateability. “ I thought that was cool because it made me feel that regular people could have this ability,” says Boaz. “The raps they were giving off were that they were just everyday cats from the hood.”

Finding his passion, Boaz honed his craft as much as he could. Becoming good enough to compete, he won a local battle of the beats contest as a teenager. Making a name for himself, he eventually dropped his first mixtape in 2005. Other projects followed, including The Audio Biography, The Transition and Bases Loaded. “It really just took getting focused while learning the pros and cons of the business outside of the artistry standpoint,” Boaz says. Around that time, he saw the rise of Khalifa and Miller. “I think it was a beautiful thing,” he continues. “What I was lacking in a sense, they had it in their tenacity and really showing that it was what they wanted. I learned from them how to really attack my fans.” Working and hanging out in the same studio with Rostrum artists, a family vibe was developed. Though Boaz may have been unsure of his ranking in hip-hop, both label executives Benjy Grinberg and Arthur Pitt were following the spitter’s steady ground game. “They were familiar with my work and things done around the city,” he said. Around this time, he was approached by other labels as well, some major. “Once I started making a prominent name for myself and meeting with different labels, I noticed that Rostrum was offering everything a major could but on an independent level,” he explains. “Plus, it was easy to delegate my art to someone I knew.” In 2012, Boaz signed to Rostrum.

Since then, Boaz has toured the nation with everyone from his label mates to Kendrick Lamar, and has worked alongside top-tier lyricists including Sean Price, Freeway, and Schoolboy Q. Between 2012 and now, Boaz has been studying hip-hop while preparing his own attack. “Artist development and learning what we need to really market towards,” he says. “It’s beautiful to keep hitting people with mixtapes and free music, but you have to find a way to get the finances.” Considering Rostrum’s already cemented legacy, Boaz isn’t worried about the standards set. “I think that everyone’s approach has been different,” he says. “The label’s success has inspired me if anything.”

Boaz will have the time to show and prove when he releases his currently untitled debut album toward the end of summer or sometime September. “The album is like hot sauce on top of your favorite fried fish, man,” Boaz says about the album. Tracks already released from the project include “Like This”(produced by !llmind), “Hard To Forget” featuring Scarface and the Larry Fisherman (Mac Miller’s production alias) produced “Rapness Monster.” According to Boaz, outside of waiting on sample clearances, the album is 85 percent done. With his stars truly aligned, he has but still a ways to go. However, Boaz is more knowledgeable about his goals and how to attain them. “You want people to see the picture you’re painting, which I count as success,” he says. “I’ve just been learning and recreating myself. This has been an extreme learning experience.”

—Ural Garrett

One Comment

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