Gangsta Boo, Pioneering Figure in Southern Rap, Dead at 43
A pioneering figure in the Southern Rap scene and one-time member of Three 6 Mafia, Gangsta Boo was found dead in her hometown of Memphis at around 4:00 p.m. local time on January 1st. Her cause of death was not immediately known as of press time.
Gangsta Boo was born Lola Mitchell in Memphis, Tennessee. She began rapping at the age of 14, and within two years she became a member of Memphis horrorcore rap group Three 6 Mafia. During her six-year tenure, Three 6 Mafia crossed into the mainstream with albums like Chapter 2: World Domination and When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1. The latter release — featuring hit singles “Sippin’ on Some Syrup” and “Who Run It” — peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum after selling one million units.
As a member of Three 6 Mafia, Gangsta Boo released her first solo album, Enquiring Minds, in 1998. Her 2001 follow-up, Both Worlds *69, cracked the top 10 of Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart and reached No. 29 on the Billboard 200. By the end of 2001, Gangsta Boo decided to leave Three 6 Mafia to further pursue her solo career.
Gangsta Boo put out a third solo album in 2003. Over the next two decades, much of her musical output came in the form of mixtapes, including collaborations with DJ Drama and BeatKing. In 2013, she reunited with Three 6 Mafia members DJ Paul, Crunchy Black, Koopsta Knicca, and Lord Infamous to form an offshoot group called Da Mafia 6ix and was heavily featured on their first mixtape, 6ix Commandments. However, she left the group the following year.
Most recently, Gangsta Boo collaborated with Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes (“Gold Teeth” from his 2019 album Angel’s Pulse) and Run the Jewels (“Walking in the Snow” from 2020’s RTJ4).
“At a time in the 90s where it felt like lots of folks didn’t respect Southern rap or women rapping, Gangsta Boo was a force of nature at the intersection of both those subgenres who let folks know neither the South nor women were to be fucked with in this rap shit,” noted DragonFly Jonez of the podcast Jenkins And Jonez in a tweet reacting to her death.
“Gangsta Boo was the witchy godmother of rap. A real, raw voice for women in the south. Her fingerprint is ALL OVER modern hip-hop,” added Essence editor Brooklyn White-Grier in a series of tweets eulogizing the rapper.
Gangsta Boo shared her own take on her legacy in a 2012 interview with Passion of the Weiss. “When it’s all said and done, I want to be remembered as Gangsta Boo from Three 6 Mafia. The first lady of Three 6 Mafia. The first lady of crunk music. The first lady who brought a platinum plaque back to Memphis. The first lady who brought a gold plaque back to Memphis. I’m the only female rapper in Tennessee that has ever did that and probably I will be the only one that ever will. I just want to be known as someone that put her heart into her music and who really really appreciated her fans.”
A quarter-century later and it still doesn’t make any sense how Gangsta Boo was rapping this hard at 17 years old. pic.twitter.com/1hQch8jVv5
— Otto Von Biz Markie (@Passionweiss) January 1, 2023
The news about Gangsta Boo really hurts. She gave countless women — within the South & beyond — a blueprint to retool and rework for themselves. Her influence is incalculable and still so present today. A legend in every sense, who was committed to encouraging future innovators.
— Kiana Fitzgerald (@KianaFitz) January 2, 2023