This February, after he was dropped from T.I.’s flailing Grand Hustle label, Atlanta rapper Yung L.A. tattooed a large duck on his right cheek. That duck is also the logo of Duct Tape Entertainment, to which fellow Atlanta rapper Alley Boy is signed. In a series of increasingly inflammatory exchanges, Alley Boy, who is fiercely loyal to Duct Tape, pressured Yung L.A., who he said was never formally associated with the label, to remove the tattoo. In early March, L.A. refused, before covering the tattoo with an LA Dodgers logo a few days later. In April, Alley Boy and a group of associates attacked L.A. They taped that assault as it happened, and the recording circulated the internet widely. I talked to Alley Boy about what happened that day and why. He also spoke about old-Atlanta entrepreneurs, his daughters, emotional struggles and Duct Tape’s plans for the summer.
When did you start rapping? I grew up in a community called Edgewood Courts. I’ve been rapping since I was nine. But I started going in the studio and recording when I was like ten, 11. I was dealing with this label called Drew B.M.K. Records. They actually did do Big Play Entertainment now, who YC signed to. But back then, like way back then, Drew B.M.K. was their label. They headline artist was named Mr. Ku, and he was my best friend’s cousin. So they were interested in us, cause we were so young but we could really rap and write.
How did your rapping develop as you entered high school and got older? My mom and dad, they was on drugs. So I stayed with my grandma. In middle school, I got into all kinds of stuff. I used to like to dance. I could sing a little bit back then, but rapping was my stronger point. But as I got a little older, in high school, just being out on the streets, we started hustling a lot. School kinda became secondary. As bad as that may sound, that’s what it was. But I always fell back to the music. When I started making my own money, I started paying for my own studio time. And I kept it going. That was the dream and I knew I was good, so I just always kept it in my heart. And I always took the time out to stay right, recording and doing songs. A lot of my cousins rap too, so it would just be where we was at.
How did you get your career started? In 2003, me and my brother from another, Big Bank Black, we caught a charge together. A possession charge of some guns and marijuana. I ended up going to prison. I did two years and during the time I was locked up, that’s when Black, he was like, “Bro, I know you wanna, let’s do the music thing.” He was getting money and stuff, so it really just started up. I was like, “Let’s go with it hard when I come home.” So when I came home, we already had the label, my name and stuff like that. We just went with it.
Where’d the name Alley Boy come from? When I was nineteen, I ran into a situation with me and three other homeboys all up on a murder charge. Murder and robbery. So I went to prison back then, in the year 2001. I did a year but I got out. During that time I was young so I used to be running around a lot. I was always being hyper, and older dudes were like, “Man, you alley as hell!” Cause I used to be loud, real loud. They was like, “You look country as hell! You country and loud!” Like, “Man, you alley, boy!” It stuck with me from there. When I came home I started writing it in my rhymes, like you know, “I’m alley, boy.”