News of Gangsta Boo’s death over the weekend hit hard across rap, but it especially hit hard here at UPROXX. The Memphis rap godmother had put in an appearance at UPROXX Studios just weeks before to shoot content, resulting in a rowdy performance of her 2020 single “I’m Fresh” for UPROXX Sessions and few lessons in Memphis lingo in which she broke down some of her favorite Dirty South slang. The occasion for her recent flurry of activity might have been her new collaboration with breakout Atlanta star Latto and Memphis upstart GloRilla, “FTCU,” but the honor was all ours, because Gangsta Boo very much defined rap royalty in her life, even if she wasn’t quite as well known by mainstream standards.
Born Lola Chantrelle Mitchell in Memphis in 1979, Gangsta Boo got her start in the rap business as a member of the pioneering group Three 6 Mafia alongside Juicy J, DJ Paul, and Lord Infamous. The group’s 1995 cult classic Mystic Stylez helped to create the template for modern trap music; Lord Infamous is often credited with pioneering the “triplet flow” popularized more recently by Atlanta rap trio Migos, while the group’s thumping 808 drums and eerie sampling style can be heard in Southern rap bangers from Atlanta to their hometown, Memphis — and everywhere in between.
While Boo left the group after the release of its 2001 album Choices: The Album to pursue a solo career, she remained associated with them and released her first two albums, Enquiring Minds and Both Worlds *69, on the group’s label Hypnotize Minds before striking out on her own. In 2014, she teamed up with fellow pioneering Memphis female rapper La Chat to drop the Witch EP, a blueprint for the era of solidarity that followed a few years later and coincided with the current wave of dominance by female rappers in hip-hop.
And although her output slowed in the years since, any number of true hip-hop heads could see her influence and impact growing in the rising importance of Southern rappers like Latto and GloRilla, even before their collaboration. However, the moment of her greatest resurgence came in 2020, when she was featured on Run The Jewels’ RTJ4 track “Walking In The Snow” after her scene-stealing verse on the group’s 2016 track “Love Again?” served as a reminder to rap fans just how influential she had always been, increasing interest in new music from her — which she was more than happy to oblige with a string of singles including “I’m Fresh” in 2020, and a flurry of activity in 2022 including “Sucka Free,” “4Eva Crunk,” and “FTCU.”
The overwhelming sense among rap fans was that Gangsta Boo was due for a re-emergence. Thanks to her passing the torch to Glo on “FTCU,” her status as a rap elder stateswoman had been certified, and all eyes were on her. What moves would she make next? Unfortunately, it now seems we’ll never know, although her commitment to the craft remains unquestioned. Although she’s far from being one of rap’s biggest “What Ifs” thanks to her iconic status as a member of Three 6 Mafia, her story also feels incomplete. It seemed like she was on the cusp of finally receiving her due as one of rap’s most fearless, boundary-breaking figures — especially among the oft-overlooked godmothers of the genre.
Perhaps now she will be recognized for her contributions to the culture, albeit belatedly. If there’s a takeaway from this loss, it should be this; we have a lot of legends who aren’t getting their flowers while they can still smell them. It’s time to change that, because as the loss of Gangsta Boo shows, time is the one thing we aren’t guaranteed very much of.