In just three years, Boosie Badazz has gone from facing the death penalty at Louisiana's notorious Angola State Penitentiary (he was found not guilty on murder charges) to releasing a major-label LP with Young Thug, T.I. and Rick Ross. In the interim, his music became an ad hoc soundtrack to the protests on the bloody streets of Ferguson, Mo., and he's ascended to the current vanguard of weird Southern rap with tales of post-prison life that add essential new layers to today's music of police protest.
"Touch Down 2 Cause Hell," Boosie's sixth album and his first formal full-length since his release, could have emerged only from these circumstances. Boosie was a prolific recording artist even while locked up, but "Touch Down" feels especially considered — he clearly spent his time inside thinking deeply about what this comeback album should mean. Singles "Like a Man" and "Retaliation" nail the gothic and narcotic sounds ruling southern rap today, but Boosie's lyrics have the harrowing air of a man who saw death slinking close.
More unexpectedly, he shines on the gentler material as well. "Black Heaven," in particular, imagines an afterlife in which Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye team up to make posthumous classics. Boosie might not be at their caliber yet, but for this moment in American life and hip-hop, he's as visceral a voice as we're going to get.
"Touch Down 2 Cause Hell"
Three stars out of four