Nothing beats passion, and hip-hop diva Bootz Durango carries it with him by the boatload. To witness the spirited southerner’s infectious energy for yourself, all you have to do is type his fittingly cartoonish moniker into Google—the cross-dressing talent’s YouTube channel serves up ample evidence of his creativity and charisma, in the form of everything from polished music videos (for songs like “Love On Acid,” a visual tribute to Rihanna’s “We Found Love” with a tune all its own), to raw talent-show footage that looks more like an episode of VH1’s Unplugged, with a lovably dramatic Durango covering crowd favorites acoustically in his college auditorium. An honest and innovative up-and-comer who proves dynamite can come out of DIY, we spoke to Durango about his instant passion for music, his bubbling digital profile, and where the Bootz brand will be a year from today.
HOMETOWN: Charlotte, NC
CURRENT CITY: Greensboro, NC
A NATURAL PERFORMER: I started playing piano when I was five years of age. You try everything from sports to Boy Scouts at that age, but music stuck like adhesive glue to my fingers. Through classical training from Geraldine Daniels School of music at the age of nine, I always explored songwriting and creating my own music, even when I could only peck around at the keys.
BORN AND RAISED: [Charlotte] was a very accepting city to be raised in. I felt I could walk out of the house with a flowerpot on my head and it would be okay—so I did. My mother was (and still is) a major influence in everything that I do—I was adopted by her at a young age and was raised by her alone until the age of 13, when she married. Then I had a mother and a father to look up to and inspire me. For fun, I was an average kid. I loved basketball, the movies, and hanging out with friends, but music was my ultimate source of entertainment.
DIGITAL DIVA: I first started making YouTube videos on April 14, 2009. Initially, it was just to entertain individuals at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where I attend school. It wasn’t until “Name Your Weave” began to generate major buzz that I thought to broadcast my talents and promote myself through YouTube. Since then, the Internet has served as the prominent mechanism for marketing myself. At this point, I am not surprised at the positive or negative feedback that I have attained. However, I am surprised at how many people have an opinion about my work and am pleased and humbled at the fact that it touches so many people in so many different areas.
ON HIS TRIBUTE VIDEOS FOR NICKI, MISSY AND RIHANNA: The creation of each tribute was very different, but they all start the same: inspiration from a pioneer in the music industry. Women in the industry inspire me, mostly because it is a male-dominated industry. More specifically it is a heterosexual, masculine male-dominated industry, where anyone who doesn’t fit the mold (women, homosexuals, etc.) has to fight that much harder to attain success. The people I have chosen to pay tribute to have all succeeded in the industry despite not fitting that mold. I feel my walk in the industry will almost mimic theirs, which is why I am inspired to pay tribute to them. When I pay tribute to someone, it is not to emulate or mock them, but to show them that their music has inspired me to create my own work, and present it to them in my image.
DIY SUPPORT: My dancers and extras [in my videos and performances] are all people that are in my inner circle and am very close to. Everyone is extremely supportive of my work and myself, most of the time working just for recognition or to help me with a goal. The city of Greensboro has served as an incubation arena for me to develop as a rising star and human being, and I feel their support comes strongly, because they feel my confidence is infectious through my talent and various works I do in the community.
POLITICAL PARTIER: I currently am employed as a party host at Greene Street Night Club here in Greensboro, NC, where I host the most accepting and diverse parties in Greensboro every Sunday. There has been some debate about the noise ordinance in our city, and when my boss Grady Green called me to speak at City Council on behalf of the establishment, I was all in! The noise ordinance is still in place, but through the efforts of our nightlife community, we were able to get it raised to a slightly more acceptable rate.
THE FUTURE OF BOOTZ: My future is performance, and through performance I will attain success in terms of money and inspiring the masses to be themselves and express themselves in any way they see fit, regardless of other people’s opinion. In life, we need pioneers to spark change, and I think my future is being that pioneer for the individuals hiding from the masses, afraid to broadcast their talents because it goes against the norm. By next year I plan on continuing to produce music/videos, but hopefully to also be under the management of a major label. I would love to be as big as Lady Gaga, and work with her as well. I would love to work with everyone I paid homage to, as well as B. Scott. He has served as a huge inspiration as well.