French hardcore rapper Booba was born Elie Yaffa in Boulogne-Billancourt on September 9, 1976. Upon mounting his hip-hop career in 1994, he also created the alternate aliases B2O and B2OBA.
In 1996 he teamed with fellow rapper Ali to co-found the group Lunatic and the label 45 Scientific, in 2000 issuing the acclaimed LP Mauvais Oeil. Lunatic split as Booba began launching a solo career, and in 2002 he released his debut effort, Temps Mort. A commercial and critical hit, the record's success resulted in a contract with major label Universal, and two years later he issued his breakthrough, Panthéon. In 2005 Booba collaborated on the track "Top of the Game" with San Antonio Spurs point guard and French native Tony Parker, one in a long line of NBA stars in pursuit of a rap career. A year later, Booba's third album, Ouest Side, entered the French charts at number one, although its success was tempered by news that the rapper's mother and brother were the victims of a kidnapping. The police later rescued both relatives and arrested suspects prior to the delivery of the €500,000 ransom.
As well as a succession of "mixtape" CDs, Booba released two more official albums during the next few years, 0.9 in 2008 and Lunatic in 2010. Neither managed to replicate the success of Ouest Side, though the latter -- presumably a tip of the hat to his old group -- hit number one in Belgium. In 2011 he endured further tragedy when the rapper Bram's, one of his best friends, who had appeared on all of his albums, died. Booba pressed ahead, however, recording another album, Futur, for release in 2012. ~ Jason Ankeny & John D. Buchanan, Rovi