Opening with the faint sound of birds chirping and oddly-metered “Doo-Doo-Doo-Dooo-Doo-Doooo” scats, “Believe” — the first track from West Philly MC/Singer Boogieman Dela’s latest EP Broken Watch 02: Future Currents — properly encapsulates the projects fresh, breezy spirit.
Once the over-sized kick drums hit, Boogieman enters with a slick, melodic flow and lyrics urging listeners to wake up and self-actualize. We caught up with him to chat about his beginnings in hip hop, his process, and the Gospel upbringing that helped shape his rich, soulful sound.
The Key: For starters, can you tell me where you’re from and how you got started in music?
Boogieman Dela: From Philly. Born in Uptown. Been living in West for a while. Started off in music playing the drums and trumpet in my elementary ages. Wrote my first rap in 5th grade and it was no turning back
TK: Word. The same. From Uptown, living in West now. What inspired those first raps? Who put the battery in your back to do this?
BMD: Not gonna say there was a battery, but it’s what was going on. The older kids who was cool around my way always cyphering. I used to watch them from the basketball court. All I knew is I wanted to be like them.
TK: Word. That seems to be how it goes: Older kids or siblings get into the artform and it spreads to the younger kids.
BMD: Yeah. I used to write mad raps before I ever let anyone hear. I ain’t never cuss tho, just in case my mom found em.
TK: That’s smart, my mom used to find mine like “What is this?!?” Lol
BMD: Yeah, Moms wasn’t having that.
TK: No doubt. Can you tell me a bit about how you made the transition from just writing to being a recording artist? Your voice is unique and an instrument unto itself. I’d imagine it took some time to develop your style and make songs.
BMD: Starting off rapping in my neighborhood, we would always freestyle and make up a story in the raps. On the other hand, I also grew up in the church, so that gospel soul was also an influence. A lot of people in my family are good singers and me loving rap music. If you mix all those things you get this Dirty Harmony style that I bring.
TK: Yeah, I wanted to talk to you about that. I hear the influence of gospel and the blues all through your music even though the sound is rooted in Hip Hop. Was / is that something you do consciously?
BMD: More so something I do naturally. I was raised off gospel music, that’s what my parents always listened to, and they were strict about what I could listen to. But I had an older sister who was a great singer, so I would listen to her CD’s and she loved that neo-soul. So I could only listen to what was around. That’s when i got into Erykah Badu and D’angelo. She didn’t listen to a lot of rap, but she had this Redman CD called Muddy Waters that I had to sneak to listen to — that was my shit. One of the first rap albums I ever heard.
TK: People don’t readily acknowledge it, but Gospel is a pillar of american music. Everything that we have comes from that and the Blues.
BMD: Definitely. And Mom was the choir director, so I got it directly.
TK: Wow. Yeah, you had a good foundation.
BMD: Yeah. And In the early 90s she had a few solo gospel albums of her own. So I think that was a big part of even believing I could do it.
TK: That’s dope. Passing on that legacy. Could you talk a little bit about Future Currents and the writing and recording process?
BMD: With the name, I was thinking of all the artists that we love and respect that aren’t here anymore. A lot of them didn’t get that love and respect while they were here or in their prime of creating. My music may not always get the huge response that I always want but I think people are just accustomed to liking the things that are pushed in their face by specific media outlets. But they listening wrong and will catch on later. “Future Currents”; it’s the next wave. I’m creating something that last forever.
TK: Word. Any last thoughts or anything you want to share?
BMD: The future keeps running away. Don’t wait for tomorrow when you can do it today. Be blessed. Be great.