Boaz Is the Hip-Hop Reformer

Photo Credit: Jeff Swensen

Most independent record labels never make it past the idea stage, and then from those that do, most never really end up being profitable. Rostrum Records, started by Benjy Grinberg in 2003, with Arthur Pitt having joined soon after in 2005, is an exception to the rule. It could easily be argued that Rostrum is one of the most successful independent record label of all time. From Rostrum came two of the most successful rappers the industry has ever seen, in Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa. So there is no doubt that scouting talent is something Rostrum has never taken lightly. They have learned to be a highly efficient organization that has been extremely calculated in what they do. Introduce Boaz, signed in 2012, who just released his debut album with the label titled Intution, and all one should see is the inevitable success.

Like Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa, Boaz is also from Pittsburgh. A natural hip-hop connoisseur, he does not remember when he got into hip-hop. Growing up in the 90s, which was a strong time for the genre meant he was never formally introduced, but rather just grew up around it. He was always rapping, but started getting into it more formally in high school. During his senior year in 2003 he won a battle of the beats contest for weeks in a row in his hometown, and that showed him using the support of those around him, he could truly turn this into a career.

His first recording studio was one most people could never imagine,

My buddy's grandpa had owned a funeral home so we would do recordings on tapes in a karaoke machine at the funeral home. They had a microphone and all the instrumentals we needed so even though that was a bit of a strange way to be making music with dead bodies everywhere, it's how I got my formal introduction to recording. We had some real jam sessions in that funeral home!

Growing up in the 90s lent Boaz the ability to be a fan of all the powerhouses of the 90s; Rocafella, Cash Money Records, No Limit and all the people who tried to make an impact for change. He was inspired by those businessmen, and thought that finding a way to create an empire from being from a marginalized group was beyond inspiring. And part of that was what attracted him so much to Rostrum, for what they were doing for Pittsburgh.

Photo Credit: Jeff Swensen

Growing up, Boaz says the music scene wasn't huge in Pittsburgh, but the successes of Mac Miller and Wiz Khalifa, along with his own growing success of Boaz have changed things. The neighborhoods are really embracing a music identity. And he believes over the years we're going to see more and more artists from there. He has been very been inspired for the city watching it go to new heights, and could not be happier that he has been a part of what has allowed that.

Being an entrepreneur like Boaz is tends to come with a host of issues. The music business is entrepreneurial in nature, and with that come the hardships of that life. Boaz has been an artist for 10 years now, and he admits it's something that has its ups and downs. Something insightful that he does when the downs are,

I draw a line between knowing when are those times are. When you might as feel you're at some height in your career because you signed a deal or are got an advance, it's merely just a start. The grandeur of your situation should be humbling. You should realize you have a lot of work ahead of yourself. Realize it's always work. Don't get too engulfed too far in the fame because that comes with the work. Stay focused and keep that humility of knowing you're just a peculiar value. You're just trying to make yourself a bit more particular than the average person. It's tough but drawing that line is very important.

It truly seems being from a blue-collar place like Pittsburgh where things are grass rooted has allowed Boaz to keep his humility. He thinks Pittsburgh is a place that you can use your neighbors as a crutch so when you're successful, people around you feel successful. He compares it to the level of emotion people have about being fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He says everyone in the city feels like they are a part of the team so they root for it like they are, and that it works the same way for him being an artist from there.

In terms of being a celebrity he thinks it doesn't necessarily change you, but it makes you wonder what people are thinking. He believes keeping your desires modest allows you to stay humble; something most people in hip hop would never want to be. But that's what makes Boaz so unique. He truly is a down to earth, humble guy, who just happens to be an excellent artist in a genre where others aren't like him.

I think even in just seeing the people around me, it shows me what fame does to their character. You see some people run to the success, but the people who tend to maintain it find a good way to create a balance between career and regular life. It's what allows for longevity. In this industry, nothing gets given to you. It's humbling and gratifying at the same time. It's work and it's a beautiful thing. I'm already ready to start working on the next album.

There is no doubt Boaz is on the verge of breaking out. He has the industry experience and understanding of a veteran, but the hunger and work ethic of a rookie. A mix like that is not one that comes along often, and is the perfect blend for success. He also has a company backing him that has a proven track record of success, which is difficult to find alone. All the markings of success are there so don't be surprised when you start seeing his name everywhere.

Photo Credit: Dan Folger