Jimmy Ness ain’t no Ken.
Gangsta Boo ain’t no Barbie. One of the south’s few premier female MCs, Lola Mitchell spit vicious rhymes as a part of legendary Memphis crunk pioneers, Three-6 Mafia. Her tough attitude and witty lyrics backed by her trademark “Yeah, hoe!” ad-lib earned the respect of peers, fans and white New Zealanders named Jimmy. Boo appeared on five Three-6 Mafia projects and released several popular solo albums before leaving the group in 2000 due to financial disagreements. But her career hasn’t got any less interesting – she briefly converted to Christianity, renamed herself Lady Boo, was accused of armed robbery, and has since affiliated with producer Drumma Boy.
Gangsta Boo is also still highly opinionated and doesn’t take any shit. She expressed annoyance over constant Three-6 Mafia questions, had some advice for women and was critical about the mixtape era. We also chatted about possible retirement, friendship with Drumma Boy and Kreyashawn, collaborating with Eminem and her new mixtape.
How did you start rapping?
I started writing poems to my dad and one poem lead into another poem, which lead to another. He started finding me keyboards and karaoke machines and stuff like that. I honestly don’t know where it came from. My mother used to sing and my dad used to be in a group, but I believe it is just in my genes. I could not tell you the day I started rapping, but I do know my motivation was 8Ball and MJG and a lot of Memphis legends like Skinny Pimp.
You went to junior high with DJ Paul from Three-6 Mafia and he saw you rapping in a talent show at 14 years old?
[Laughs] Yup, exactly in that order. He wanted me to get on his mixtape, so I got on his mixtape and I became really popular. I was being requested to be on more of the Three-6 Mafia songs and I kind of just got in the group like that. People kept requesting me.
What was the rap scene like in Memphis at the time?
It was great. The music, it was amazing. Like I said we had 8Ball, MJG, Skinny Pimp, Al Kapone, S.M.K, Gangsta Pat. You had a lot of Memphis legends that I looked up to. So the Memphis rap scene was actually pretty cool. We had a little U.G.K, but for the most part I grew up on Memphis music.
You were one of the early female rappers from the south. Were you always aware of that and working harder to prove yourself?
To be honest, I was aware of it. But you know, you had Mia X, I always looked up to her. She’s one of my good friends. So I never looked at it like it was just me in the south because she was around before I was. I kind of always had Mia X in the back of my mind and other females that weren’t from the south. I used to look up to Da Brat. I used to love Da Brat, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown.
Did you ever get disrespected because you were a female artist?
To be honest – no, I never went through that. I was always respected because I was around Three-6 Mafia all the time, so there was no room for disrespect.
Some of the Three-6 Mafia lyrics were about chickenheads and hoes or other misogynistic subject matter. Did you feel you had to be more lyrically creative to rap about subjects usually only men covered?
Man, I just did what I did. I used to just write for some of the cats in the booth. I was just a good writer and I didn’t think too much. There was really no concentration in my lyrics to be honest. I was good at what I did so I didn’t really have to study.
You left after the group in 2001, was that a tough choice for you?
No, I left the group on my own. They didn’t even know I was going to leave the group. But that was over 10 years ago. I don’t know why people still care about that. Now I’m with Drum Squad and I have a whole different team. I really don’t understand why I still get the Three-6 Mafia questions, 15 years later. I think it’s kind of weird.
Do you still talk with any of them? I know you are in contact with La Chat.
Yeah I still talk to her, I haven’t talked to the other guys in a long time. DJ Paul he works with Drumma Boy sometimes. You know Juicy J shout out to him, he’s doing his thing with Taylor Gang. Me and Project Pat, we talk on Twitter every now and then. But other than that, I don’t really have a reason to talk to them, you know what I mean? If I had a reason I would, but there’s no reason.
After leaving the group you became a Christian and changed your name to Lady Boo. Tell us about that period in your life, what led you to it?
I was just depressed being in the group. I just wasn’t happy with things that were going on within my career that Paul and Juicy were handling. I got depressed and one of my friends was a pastor at the time. He started getting me involved in church and I started becoming religious. One thing led into another, but I kind of backed out of that a little bit. I don’t consider myself religious, I consider myself spiritual. It was all a part of my growing pains.
Did you go on a hiatus? You’ve been releasing a lot more material recently than you did for a few years.
I know right!? [laughs]. I just had to just chill and be Lola. I had to be a daughter. I had to be a sister. I had to be an aunty. The rap game really wasn’t doing it for me at the time so I decided to be around my family more. You know, why indulge in a business that’s not indulging me back? I’ve been with Drumma Boy for a long time too, for almost ten years. I got with Drumma Boy right after I left Three-6 Mafia and just being around him and his young energy, it motivates me to do music and to keep on going. I have a fanbase and they want to see me. They want to hear me. I can’t let my fans down just because I don’t wanna do something, because without my fans I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I heard that you weren’t completely happy with your song “Where Dem Dollas At?”
Where you hear that?
You made a brief comment about it in a Thisis50 interview.
[Laughs] The reason is because I’ve had so many songs since then, but it’s the only song people recognize me for. It’s just annoying, that’s all. I work my ass off. It’s not easy to write a fucking song. It’s not easy to record them bitches either. It’s not easy to come up with concepts. But I do all of that, just like these men do and I feel like I don’t get the props that I deserve. So I’m just stuck with “Where Dem Dollas At,” as if I’m a one hit wonder. So it’s a gift and a curse. It’s a blessing to have such a strong impact song that people feel love for in 2012. I recorded that song in 1997, you know what I’m saying? It’s definitely a blessing for sure, but it’s also annoying cause I work my ass off and I’ve got thousands of songs. It seems like I’m just recognized for that one.
In 2009, you were accused of armed robbery on a Mississippi retail store but the charges were dropped. It was a bitter former associate?
Yeah, I knew him and he thought I had snitched on him. So in return to get me in trouble and embarrass me, he told some people I was with him. Of course it was not proven and of course it got dropped and expunged off my record. Right now he is sitting in jail doing 20 years for the crime he committed that he said I did with him. It was just a situation where I got caught up in some bullshit. It just shows that everybody that is with you, are not always your friends. So you’ve got to watch and try to keep positive people around you. You know I don’t hang around people like that, so I don’t have people like that around. I won’t be getting caught up in nothing like that no more.
You dissed Kreyashawn and called her a “wigger,” but it seems like you’re okay now?
Yeah we are, she’s actually sweet. A lot of my opinions don’t necessarily have to be stated in interviews and that was what happened. It was my opinion, I said it in an interview and it spread across the media and it hurt her feelings at the time because she was a fan. We communicate through text, inboxes on Twitter and I think she’s a sweet person. I think she’s very artistic and creative. What I said was what I meant at the time but I had to get to know her. I don’t believe that anymore. I think she’s a sweet person.
Recently you were featured on Yelawolf’s song “Throw It Up” with Eminem. How was that experience?
It was a really good experience that kind of came out of the blue. I didn’t know I was going to be on a song with Eminem. I knew I was going to be on a song with Yelawolf, but they put Eminem on it too. That gave me a lot of media buzz that I really wasn’t prepared to take at the time. It was kind of overwhelming, it came in so fast. It was definitely a high point in my career. Eminem don’t just do songs with everybody so for him to jump on the song with me and Yelawolf and to say my name in his verse was definitely an accomplishment. That is something I can say I’ve done in my career. I’ve got on a song with Eminem. That was pretty dope.
Tell us about your decade-long friendship with producer Drumma Boy, how did you meet?
I met him through another local producer in Memphis and me and him just became really cool, really quick, like a brother and sister relationship. He used to live with me in Atlanta. I’ve turned around and stayed with him before. It’s kind of like we scratch each other’s back. Now that he’s in a position to crank out hot music, he’s never gone without giving me beats. That’s why my loyalty is with him because he’s never left my side through all the rumours, all the shit that he’s heard about me, he’s never left me ever in his life. He’s never left my side so my loyalty will forever be with Drumma Boy.
You’re working on a new mixtape?
Yeah I procrastinate a lot. I love doing music don’t get me wrong, but I don’t have the hunger that I had before. I have other things that I want to do, like I want to get a degree in music production or business management or just something else. But yeah, I’m just working on songs. I don’t know if I’m putting them on a mixtape or going to drop an EP. I just be so confused.
Unfortunately, the game right now is in the mixtape status like you have to have a mixtape. That’s because I’m in the game and I’m a player in the game. I’m probably going to drop a mixtape. I’m really confused about the title. I don’t know if I want to call it New Boo, Forever Gangsta 2, Boo Music. Like I don’t know what I’m going to name it so right now it’s kinda untitled but it’s going to be out in a couple of weeks because it’s almost finished. I’ve got a song I’m pushing right now called “Pillow Talk” with 8ball and Maino. I got a song with Young Buck and both are produced by Drumma.
Me and Trina, we tweeted each other. There’s a song I want to put Trina on. I’m going to be in Miami in August so hopefully I get to knock that feature out with her. So far I’ve got Maino, 8Ball, Daz Dilla, Young Buck, of course Drum Squad, Trouble from DTE he’s going to be on the mixtape. You know it’s going to be pretty dope. Typical Boo music, that gangsta shit.
You’re thinking of eventually retiring and just becoming an A&R or working at a label?
Just some sort of executive, yeah. I’m about to be 33. I don’t really want to waste my entire 30s in the music business, rapping. I don’t want to waste my 30s trying to get “that song.” Because I’ve got songs. I’m not about to keep putting out music for free, just to try to get a fucking deal or a buzz. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to discover new talent, who have the same vibe that I had at my age when I first came out and put them out. I just think it will be easier, the game is always ready for something new. I’m going to still be a part of it because the music is in me, I don’t know what I would do without it. I’m going to still be around. I’m just not going to waste my time and the rest of my years trying to blow up, as they say.
You mention not wanting to waste your 30s, what are you plans for the future?
Well I don’t waste them grinding. I want to have fun. I want to eat off the fruit of my labor so it’s not that I don’t want to waste my 30s, cause I’m still young. I have no kids, I’m young. I’m vibrant, I’m nice looking, I’m getting money. It’s just that I want to be able to enjoy the fruit of my labor in my 30s versus me just still grinding.
So hopefully sometime in 2013 I open up a beauty supply store, that’s been my dream for a very long time. I could have did it, but when you’re young and you get money you don’t really think about the future. So shout out to anyone reading this interview, save your money, get you multiple bank accounts and get you an accountant and pay your taxes. So my dream is to be a franchise beauty supply store owner.
You also listen to a lot of rock or alternative music, not just rap?
Exactly my point, exactly! I want to do shit like that. I’ve been rapping so long, I’m kind of over it. I would love to record a rock song one day, go on tour with a live band, stuff like that. Not just the rap. I fell asleep listening to One Republic on my Pandora last night. I love them.
What happened with collaborating with Pink or Kelly Clarkson?
I know right? I put out the Tweet. Sometimes you Tweet shit and they bite back. I just tweeted “man I really want Trina on a song,” and she tweeted me right back. So you never know what the future holds. I’m a firm believer in god, I pray and I know god will give me what I ask for so hopefully one day. I know I’m doing some work with Kitty Pryde. Me and Kitty Pryde is cool, she a fan of mine. She’s actually going to be in Atlanta, August the 2nd and I’mma go fuck with her and we supposed to be doing some songs. I’m crossing over man. I need that Wiz Khalifa crowd. That Coachella crowd. I’m cool on the black Hollywood. It really hasn’t been my friend, just to be honest. I mean black Hollywood is cool, but I get a lot of love with the hipsters.
You’re also involved with some dance crews?
I like my shows to be a representation of where I’m from and I’m from Memphis. We have a dance culture that’s been around for the past 25 years called Memphis Jookin. I just did my research. I grabbed a couple of things like Gangsta Walkin. I used to mess with G Nerd and this other dancer named Lil Daniels, they used to dance for me back in the day like in the early 2000s. I needed them for this video that I did called “M.E.M.P.H.I.S” ft La Chat and Frayser Boy and Drumma did the beat too. We haven’t put it out yet. Earlier this year, I got on Twitter and was like “hey, I need some Memphis Jookers, who’s Jooking in Memphis?” And the name G Nerd came up and I was like “oh ok I forgot about G Nerd.” So once I hooked up with him, I was just so infatuated with his videos. Just all of the dancers in Memphis because they don’t get recognized. Atlanta gets recognized for every damn dance they do, but Memphis they dancing like Chris Brown, Usher and all these other people and they teaching themselves how to do it. They not going to these lessons, they not doing all of that. So I was just really infatuated and wanted to be a part of helping Memphis Jookin get off the ground.
Another dancer Lil Buck is on tour with Madonna?
Lil Buck is on tour with Madonna right now so she recognized. She had a contest called the Smirnoff something, something with Smirnoff and he sent in his stuff and she picked him. She picked him out of a lot of dancers. She respects Memphis Jookin. So it’s just something that all Memphians respect and if they don’t they should, and if you a dancer you’ve got to respect it because it’s different. It’s one of a kind. So I’m definitely going to incorporate Memphis Jookin with everything I do as far as my shows because every time I bring one of them out, people look in amazement like “oh my god!” You know Crunchy Black was known for doing it with Three-6 Mafia, now you’ve got a new generation doing it. I just want to put them on.
What’s the biggest misconception about Gangsta Boo?
That I’m crazy. People think I’m crazy. Not in a psycho way but in a temper tantrum way like if I don’t get my way I spazz out, which is true, but that don’t have nothing to do with my music. If a man is a boss or a kind of aggressor, he the man. But when a woman does it, we’re a bitch, we’re crazy. So I think that would be a big misunderstanding that I’ve had. A lot of people don’t know how to deal with me.
Do you feel like you empower women with your music?
Yes, most definitely. I encourage women to be strong. If you’re going to be hanging around these men get something from it. Keep your legs closed. Don’t be sleeping with all these rappers if you’re trying to make something of yourself. There’s just so much stuff that women should not do especially black women. I see so many black women degrading themselves just to be a part of this so called “entertainment business” and everything glitters is not gold. That’s a real problem that I see a lot of young women having. Once the light and the cameras are off, then what?
What do you want people to remember most about Gangsta Boo?
I just want people to know that I’m a really hard worker. I’m human just like everybody else. I write all my own music. I’ve helped other people come up with concepts. I’ve helped put a lot of people on. I just want to be respected. When it’s all said and done, I want to be remembered as Gangsta Boo from 3-6 Mafia. The first lady of 3-6 Mafia. The first lady of crunk music. The first lady who brought a platinum plaque back to Memphis. The first lady who brought a gold plaque back to Memphis. I’m the only female rapper in Tennessee that has ever did that and probably I will be the only one that ever will. I just want to be known as someone that put her heart into her music and who really really appreciated her fans. Because if it wasn’t for my fans, like I said, I definitely would not still be doing this. My fans are my motivation. I love my fans.