Nowadays, it’s a 50/50 shot as to whether Artist Julius Dubose—better known as A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, the 21-year-old rap sensation—can walk down the street like a normal person. Some days, and on some streets, he is undisturbed by fans. Other days, “They get out of control,” he explains from the New York offices of Atlantic Records, his label. “Girls be coming up to me, jumping on me, trying to pull my sweater. Especially in Manhattan.” His star power has been steadily growing since his 2016 mixtape Artist; it spiked when Drake had him open for three shows on his tour last summer. With the release earlier this month of his first full length album, the impressively realized The Bigger Artist, it has reached stratospheric heights.
Boogie was born and raised in the Bronx, and much to-do has been made about the return of a homegrown New York MC. (Incidentally, Cardi B, who grew up in the same Highbridge neighborhood as Boogie, is also dominating the charts.) The Bronx was the birthplace of hip hop, after all, and while other cities may have stolen some of the thunder of late, Boogie cares about his New York sound. “I was raised hearing music everywhere I went,” he says. “New York sounds like something that I could really listen to. It’s like a vibe, it’s a hit song, it’s a song that you could listen to in five years and still like.”
By those metrics, The Bigger Artist is definitely a New York album. Throughout the 15 tracks, Boogie makes good use of his songwriting prowess, his affinity for piano, and his versatility. Some songs reveals a softer side—the album’s opener, “No Promises,” pays homage to a fan killed at one of his concerts—while others are catchy, and a little funky, with influences drawn from Atlanta rappers like Future. The standout track is the lyrically nimble “Drowning,” which features Kodak Black—it has already gone Platinum. Chris Brown, 21 Savage, and Trey Songz make appearances elsewhere.
Even as The Bigger Artist reached number one on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, Boogie has maintained a clearheaded—even zen—attitude about his life thus far. After the album, “I celebrated a little bit, but not too much. I didn’t go crazy,” he says. “I’m not really worried about the flashy stuff. I don’t got chains and cars. I spend what I need to spend. It doesn’t faze me. I’m still gonna do what I do. You can’t make me do anything else.” He goes on, mellow as could be: “Most of the time I’m making music. There’ll be moments of my life where I feel like I gotta to take a break and come back to the music. It’s hard to explain, but you need to get a break from it and then come back to it. It’s like you gotta lose something to appreciate it.”