×

Remembering Gangsta Boo as a Friend and Fellow Rapper Who Deserved Her Flowers

Kosha Dillz reflects on a hip-hop force cursed by success at a young age and the fear of asking for help.

INDIO, CA - APRIL 11: Rappers Gangsta Boo (L) and Killer Mike of Run the Jewels perform onstage during day 2 of the 2015 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 1) at the Empire Polo Club on April 11, 2015 in Indio, California.  (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The most gangsta thing Gangsta Boo could do was ask for help.

Lola Mitchell, who died on Jan. 1 at age 43, was my friend. We met in 2012 at a show when she approached me and said, “Who you?” That interaction with Boo sparked 10 years of collaborations — songs, shows and hours of conversations and advice on everything from music to relationships. We both loved the hustle and both had addictions. That is what drew me to her.

I had been aware of Gangsta Boo’s influence even before hearing her music. Trap music was all the rage and “Where Dem Dollas At” was infamous. After taking Boo and her friend out to Mel’s Diner in Hollywood, we would go to record a song with Murs and Jesse Shatkin for “Where My Homies Be” and years later I even brought her to the moon on “Solo” with Sam Barsh, where she got extremely deep. When we shot the video, she said, “Cool, but if you are gonna put me in an astronaut suit to Mars, you are gonna have to pay me more.” I happily obliged. 

As Gangsta Boo, she was socially conscious. We attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Los Angeles and recorded for a collaborative program on Black-Jewish relations called “Soulvey” on a makeshift green screen Zoom in her hotel room with nonprofit Value Culture and Holocaust Survivor Sami Steigmann. We played showcases together at South By Southwest and last year, I tried to get her on a TV show to perform. Unfortunately, Boo preferred to wait until COVID restrictions would change. I didn’t understand her vaccination stance, considering this was someone who willingly introduced dangerous and addictive substances into her body — as did I for many years.

I introduced myself to Boo as a sober person, which was always intriguing to her. She would say how “proud” she was of me, but I knew Boo had her own issues. Now that the music community is reflecting on their own experiences with Lola, many are afraid to taint someone’s legacy with the truth, so here is mine.

Courtesy of Kosha Dillz

In recovery, the least enjoyable thing is to push “recovery” onto someone else. The problem is for many of our artistic heroes, they use their personal demons to deliver great work while high. That’s what Lola did, and successfully — she shared in an Oscar win, after all — but she never got the proper respect or proper representation. Why wasn’t she signed to one of the major booking agencies after she toured with Run the Jewels? Why didn’t she get a solo set at Coachella after appearing at the festival twice and even having a song with Eminem?  How can someone who appeared on “Drink Champs” and a Verzuz battle sell merch via cashapp instead of a proper fulfillment company? And why was she occasionally short on funds?

For most of her career, Boo wasn’t properly compensated for her worth. This was going to be her year. She was right there with a Glorilla and Latto record. Her monthly streams went from 40,000 a month to well over 1.7 million. And yet the sad ending of her story isn’t unique. Boo was caught in a vicious cycle many hip-hop artists face: the curse of success at a young age and the fear of asking for help. Instead of living paycheck to paycheck, artists live Cashapp to Paypal, hustling as a one-person army.

Smoke a lil weed just to ease my thoughts / My Daddy just died so I feel super lost / Don’t have a lot of friends till the end / But then again Imma win at any costs.” 

We all wanted Boo to win. Sadly, addiction doesn’t care if your “career” is on an uptick. It is only a matter of when it will take everything from you. We all know a Lola — someone of tremendous talent who left the world far too soon. It is ultimately up to the person to let others help them. If only that was seen as the gangsta move. 

Kosha Dillz, or Rami Even-Esh, is a rapper from New York City and a new cast member on VH1’s “Wild N Out.” with Nick Cannon. Sober since 2004, he speaks on addiction and mental health issues around the world. Find him on Twitter or Instagram.