I’m not smart enough to understand time dilation, but Lil Boosie is.
Since his release from prison eight days ago, Baton Rouge’s favorite son has presumably not had a second to breathe (although I hope he has checked his mail). Just as I don’t understand the finer points of advanced physics, I have never emerged from a half-decade behind bars—but I imagine it’s hectic. Reunions and welcome-home parties can only last so long when you’re a public figure. And while Monday’s press conference—where Boosie addressed the world from a gold-plated throne—was an appropriately joyous occasion, there was no denying that it was a business engagement, what with its rows of cameras and press passes. If only there was a way to capture the release itself: the joy, the anxiousness, the vindication.
Mercifully, as Torrence Hatch has his freedom, his friends have iPhones. In a car on the way home from the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Boosie did what made us care about his incarceration in the first place: he rapped. The video fails to capture the man’s face, but it captures just about everything else. Eager to revisit both his barber and his “money machine”, Boosie is as nimble as ever, shifting from a precise staccato to soulful longing for his kids—“a feeling only I can explain”. Artists returning from long absences (especially incarcerations) seldom sound like the artists we loved initially; here, acapella, Boosie is exactly the rapper we remember.
In a sea of shoddy, incomplete attempts to put Boosie’s career in the proper context, a few wise souls have drawn the one comparison that makes perfect sense: Tupac Shakur. While the Louisianan has never had the same singular political bent, the artists are cut from the same cloth. In his freestyle, Boosie’s cries for his children—cries that are tender, paternal, and vulnerable—come just a few bars after he likens himself to Scarface, Al Capone, and Larry Hoover. These sides of Boosie aren’t there to contradict one another or cancel each other out. The man who rapped “swear to God I love the kids/but I’m ‘bout mine, I slang iron” understands desperation in a way most never could.
It’s cause-and-effect: Boosie is the man he needs to be to provide for those he loves. He reflects often and with a keen sense of perspective and his own moral code, but he isn’t big on broad mea culpas; his world is too complex, too vivid. It would take ages to explain in full. Time hasn’t been on Boosie’s side for the last five years, but for the fifty-four seconds captured here, it stands still. The video title adds the qualifier “(Partial)”—at the end, after Boosie breaks out in song, it abruptly cuts off. For once, that’s fine. He can finish later. He has all the time in the world.
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