In Compton, Boogie Just Wants To Empower His Neighborhood The rapper's son has changed Boogie's outlook on life: "I need to show him that he can be strong where he at and make a difference in this world."

In Compton, Boogie Just Wants To Empower His Neighborhood

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The city of Compton, Calif. has just under 100,000 residents. But it's given rise to a number of rap's biggest stars, from the late Eazy-E - once called the Godfather of Gangsta Rap - to mogul producer Dr. Dre in the '90s to Dre protege The Game and current Billboard chart topper Kendrick Lamar. It's also the home to a new voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BITTER RAPS")

BOOGIE: (Singing) Yo, it's a thin line between opinions and bitterness. Choose wisely.

CORNISH: Anthony Dixon.

BOOGIE: I don't really like that name. I actually wanted to change my government name to Boogie.

CORNISH: Boogie is his professional name. And on the surface, he's got the kind of back story often told in hip-hop - the kid of a single mom and an absent father, a high school dropout, a former gang member. Boogie he says he may have come up in the birthplace of gangster rap, but there's another way to look at that often vilified music.

BOOGIE: Gang-banging started with empowering your community from the police. At some point in time, it's changed from empowering our community to hurting our community. So, if we could find a way to bring positive light to gang-banging - even though the name gang-banging just sounds so negative - like, I just got a find a way to bring positivity to it. Me just walking away from it, it's never going to happen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BITTER RAPS")

BOOGIE: (Singing) Man, I'm a witness. I hate when [expletive] get to flexing just to show off for some [expletive] but still ain't got none. You smoke 'em out just for the kisses, always asking for a shotgun.

CORNISH: You can understand Boogie's viewpoint better when you think about how he first embraced the music. It wasn't in the streets, it was in the pews. He was in middle school when his worried mom urged him to go to church, saying it would help him with his grades. And he listened.

BOOGIE: I ended up going to church like, every day of the week at some point in time in Compton. But that's when I fell in love with music. I was put in a choir. I didn't really like it at first. And I just fell in love with it. And, yeah, that's where my musical beginning came from - a church in Compton.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MIDNIGHT")

COKO: (Singing) Don't wait till midnight.

BOOGIE: My favorite church song is called "Midnight" by Coko.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MIDNIGHT")

COKO: (Singing) When there is no sunshine.

BOOGIE: I've been listening to it a lot lately, as a matter of fact. (Singing) You are a stranger until there is danger.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MIDNIGHT")

COKO: (Singing) And that ain't right.

BOOGIE: It's basically about people only going to God when they feel like they're in trouble. I feel like by habit and by nature, every time people get in a bad situation, they'll be like, God help me. But in their good moments, they don't really, you know, have any words for God. That's what that song is about. So it touched me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MIDNIGHT")

COKO: (Singing) Hello, my child.

BOOGIE: I was 19 when I found out I was having a kid. Yeah, and once he was born, something just came over me that I just wanted to always be with him. Like, I'm attached to his heartbeat. I feel like I need to be with him every minute of the day or know what he's doing every minute of the day. And it's a feeling I didn't even think was possible, this level of love that I have for him I didn't even know was possible - honestly.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAVE ME")

BOOGIE: (Singing) Won't you save me 'cause lately I ain't seen no sunlight. Why you so shady?

BOOGIE: My whole outlook on things is different now because of my kid. Right now we still in a real negative state in my neighborhood, so my kid is witness to a lot of this. Like, he's 5, but he's already seen a drive-by. And that's not really something a 5-year-old should really see. So, hey, he pushes me to either change the neighborhood around me or get him out of it. But I honestly think me changing the neighborhood around me would be the best idea because me just running from one problem and going to the next problem isn't really helping him at all. I need to show him that he can be strong where he at and make a difference in his world.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAVE ME")

BOOGIE: (Singing) This ain't never my birth wishes. You know the struggle that worst wishes. The homie had a wife until my [expletive] got a strike and then they wonder why I curse (ph). They trying to say I think wrong. If I don't make a hit I ain't gonna never leave home. The homie got killed it seem like everything gone. The cycle ain't broke and we forever need loss (ph). I'm trying to read on. This ain't just my story.

BOOGIE: I think what a lot of rappers mess up on is, when they try to make a change, they try to make it seem like they better than that environment. But I'm just trying to let people know I have just as many flaws as my homies that's stuck here, but it's all about not glorifying it. We can say where we from. Like, I'd be a liar if I told my kid I wasn't from this neighborhood. But it's all about - we can empower this neighborhood, we don't have to bring pollution to it. So, that's my whole plan.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH MY")

BOOGIE: (Singing) Oh, my. Oh, my goodness...

CORNISH: The rapper Boogie, government name Anthony Dixon. His latest album is called "Thirst 48."

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