At first glance, 23-year-old Artist Julius Dubose isn’t exactly what meets the eye. The trendsetting, diamond-trenched rapper from the Bronx also known as A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie who is arguably one of the top contenders for future leaders in the industry. He created ‘Highbridge The Label’ with his partner QP, and received critical acclaim for his projects Artist, The Bigger Artist and Highbridge The Label: The Takeover Vol.1 with the Don Q before taking over the airwaves. If you’ve heard “Drowning,” or his recent single “Look Back At It” you know he’s capable of making good songs. But it’s the raw emotion evoked in songs like “D.T.B/Interlude,” “Still Think About You,” “Friendzone” and now “4 Min Convo” that showcase the vulnerability fans admire. His second studio album, Hoodie SZN debuted at number one on the Billboard 100 and he’s just getting started.

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Separating himself from his peers as a master of melodies but fused with lyricism, A Boogie bridges the gap between millennials and fans of the golden era of Hip-Hop. Today after getting a fresh cut for his photoshoot right before a sold-out show, he’s surprised that connection was made. “It’s crazy that you brought up bridging the gap because that’s the name of my management company and that’s basically the whole point of me being in this game,” he reveals. “To bring different worlds together so that when I go to shows, I don’t just see one type of crowd I see all types of cultures getting together.” Hailing from one of the toughest places in the Bronx–— Highbridge, A Boogie says things still have not improved there. “I feel like the Bronx has never really changed.  It changed from back in the day, but from my era, I feel like it’s kind of gotten worse. I feel like as we get older, the kids are younger involved with the streets… I know twelve-year-old little kids that want to drop out of school right now. I feel like the only way that (change) will happen is if people come to reality. No one really comes to reality when it comes to life.” He explains, “For example rules. Everybody has their own opinion when it comes to rules. Every single person.  Let’s say there’s 30 people in the room, and the teacher gives 30 people rules. At least 15—half of those people are not going to listen to those rules and they are going to want to learn a certain type of way. People have to really understand when things are changing. Kids shouldn’t have to learn about social studies more than they learn about real estate. This is the point where you need to learn how to do things like that. But they want kids to go to college just to say they went to college. What’s a diploma? A diploma can’t buy you a house? It can get you a job to work for somebody, if you don’t really learn how to work for yourself.”  

Numb to expectations, he believes it doesn’t have to remain this way. “I think things will change. That leads with people like me. People like Meek Mill, RIP Nipsey Hussle… mainly all the rappers that’s using the opportunity to build more opportunities. The crowds that we reach out to listen to the things that we say or the things that we do. It’s not all about just rap or about making sounds. It’s about making opportunities and building more opportunities. It’s like a blind side with this whole industry, a big blind side with it. It’s the distraction. You don’t really get the time to realize that you can do this and do this with it through doing music.” After spending a few moments with A Boogie, you realize there’s a hidden strategy to everything he does and he’s a self-confessed workaholic with the presence of an old soul. “I hear that a lot. I’ve been hearing that ever since I was 16. I don’t even like doing anything, I just like working. Sometimes I feel like I work too hard, but I’m not just doing this for myself. It ain’t all about having fun. I know everybody says, ‘Yeah but you got to have fun sometimes,’ everybody always seeing me with a little sad face or whatever (laughs) but I’m in this to win.” 

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Sharing parts of his private life on social media with his 2-year-old daughter Melody and his tumultuous relationship with her mother Ella Bands, the rapper exemplifies another stage of growth. He recently apologized to Ella on Instagram for ‘every little mistake’ and thanked her for giving him ‘a beautiful family to love, prosper and cherish.’ Unfazed by the opinions on social media, he doesn’t regret opening up publicly. “I feel like going into the future I would share way more. There’s things that I still go through in my relationship that people would like to know but I don’t talk about things that I’m going through unless it’s something that’s appropriate to talk about.” He does acknowledge the birth of his daughter changed his views drastically. “Having a daughter made me think about a million things differently.  It made me respect women way more. Even though I still have more learning to do it made me respect women way more.”  

Despite being open about some aspects of his life he doesn’t believe everyone should have access to his circle. “I feel like you have to gravitate to certain relationships only, certain relationships can be real bad for you. You could just jump into anything… let’s say one of my favorite rappers is the most violent rappers out here and I meet him and I do songs with him, and now I’m starting to feel the influence from him,” He explains. “I don’t feel like that’s the way, you have to gravitate on a positive energy side of it and realize who’s genuinely in it. I don’t like the fake friends/industry thing, I just stay to myself.” He does admit that he gets a lot of love in spite of being recluse. “That’s what keeps me going, because there’s certain rappers that don’t get no love and they just doubt themselves after that. You know how people lose energy?” He asks. “If you don’t peak your energy it’s going to peak without you.”

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Not shying away from the hard questions, he doesn’t blink when asked about the pill epidemic. “It’s never gonna change, it’s only going to get worse. Rappers are never going to stop talking about drugs unfortunately. I do it myself. So, I can’t contradict on that. It’s like a foundation we built. We didn’t do it for them to do drugs, but we do it because…I ain’t going to lie, it’s a selfish thing. It’s the selfish part of us. I talk about drugs in my music because I want certain people to gravitate, certain fans that I don’t have. ‘People out here doing drugs, all right let’s get them. You know that’s just how I think. It’s a business at the end of the day.”

Boasting confidence and business sense, A Boogie already considers himself a Bronx legend. “I feel like I’m a part of it now, I don’t just feel, I am a part of it. Being a part of it just makes me feel like I’m doing it at a pace where I got so much more time to put in, I can’t wait until I really reach my peak.”  He also has an exclusive deal with the iconic brand PUMA synonymous with New York Hip-Hop. “I gotta give it up to Biggs, Chief, Emory and my manager Emm for that one. That one came about through relationships and that’s what life is all about these days. Music is just the beginning, You see how some people say the most successful people in the world have five businesses? I want to have at least 15-to-20 businesses one day so I can be three times more successful than the most successful people.” 

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As for the future, A Boogie is gearing to release more music. “Right now, I’m working on Artist 2.0. I’m overloaded with songs. I got a few projects that I can make right now, but I got to make it make sense. That’s all I do, just puzzle things together and make sure I make a good project every time. And I’m working on my singles. I’m trying to get my couple number one records and it never stops.”