Shawty Lo Interview
Like it or not, D4L will forever be known as the ‘pioneers’ of snap music. Following their catchy and ring tone friendly singles “Laffy Taffy” and “Betcha Can’t Do It Like Me,” the group fell by the wayside. While members Mook-B and Stoney are nowhere to be found, frontman Fabo has released several solo singles that have failed to produce any buzz. However, creator and label boss, Shawty Lo, embarks on his solo debut later this month. During an interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” Shawty Lo (or L.O. depending on which song of his you hear) explains how no matter his solo success, D4L will always stand for “down for life,” and why with regards to T.I. and Young Jeezy, Shawty Lo is the self-proclaimed hottest rapper out of the ATL.
Listen to the Interview
Shawty Lo Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an Atlanta native who not too long ago told the world, “Betcha can’t do it like me.” Well, he’s right – I can’t. So I got him on the phone. It’s my man, Shawty Lo of D4L. How you doin’?
Shawty Lo: Hey, what’s happening?
DJ Booth: What’s good is that my speakers didn’t blow, after I started playing “Dey Know.” It’s crazy. What I do know is that as soon as I heard it, I loved the sample from Edwin Star’s classic, “War.” The question is what do they know? Tell us about Shawty Lo.
Shawty Lo: Shawty Lo – I am the CEO of D4L, you know what I’m sayin’? D4L, I brought em out in 2003, and “Dey Know” really consists of me, Shawty Lo. I’m adding a new flavor to the game, it’s called the slow flow. Tryin’ to be myself – I ain’t tryin’ to be nobody else, just me.
DJ Booth: The title of your new album is called, “Units in the City.” What units are you referring to here?
Shawty Lo: Basically, two sides –the music world and the street world, where you know what I’m sayin’, they know what I’m talkin’ about, units in the city.
DJ Booth: When the biggest artist from a group sees success as a solo artist – I’ll give you a few examples, of course: Beyonce in Destiny’s Child, Justin Timberlake in N*SYNC, Omarion in B2K – they have no reason to return to their group. If “Units in the City” does huge numbers beyond your wildest expectations, do you go back to being a part of the D4L collective?
Shawty Lo: Yes, I’m always D4L; it stand for ‘down for life,’ you know what I’m saying? To be honest, I started D4L a long time ago, as a group – I wasn’t never intended to go solo; just my fans in the street demanded a solo project out of me. I really wasn’t ever a rapper, I was just tryin’ to be like Baby with Cash Money, like Puff Daddy – I was just tryin’ to be the man behind the scenes when I first started. I got arrested in 2004, and I got out – let me see – July 2005, right before we put out our album, and “Laffy Taffy.” And I had the song called, “I’m the Man,” that the first solo song I ever did, and the people in the streets, they love it and they like, “Shawty Lo, we wanna hear your story, ‘cause man, we believe you for real. We don’t believe the other rappers.”
DJ Booth: Are you surprised that people are so interested in what you got goin’ on in your life?
Shawty Lo: I’m kinda surprised – it was more like a new thing to me ‘cause, I was really kinda shy. People like to be there with me to do stuff, and, I started doin’ solos myself, and I overcome the sadness, and I probably still look camera-shy a little bit, but I’m gettin’ it together.
DJ Booth: You said that what you’re gonna do is do the ‘slow flow.’ How can fans identify with Shawty Lo as a solo artist, as opposed to that guy from D4L, as they knew you before?
Shawty Lo: Man, I remember back when I was in the group, I really stayed behind the scenes – I really didn’t stick out. Like I told you, in 2005 here, I had this song, “I’m the Man,” and that like brought a whole different image, you know what I’m sayin’?
DJ Booth: Fellow Southerner, Chamillionare, recently dropped an album himself, spit the following rhyme in his song, “Morning News,”: “Crunk music, Hyphy music, Snap music/Sounds like a nursery rhyme/Get a beat and rap to it/Ain’t speaking with a purpose/I’ma call it ‘crap music.’” Are you offended by a line like that?
Shawty Lo: Nah, I’m not offended. People, they entitled to say what they want to say. I know what kind of music we make – see, we done sold albums, we’ll sell a million ring tones, so, I feel like I’m a great artist right now. He can’t offend me.
DJ Booth: Your music has always been huge down South, particularly in Atlanta. How would you feel if, say, someone from LA, New York or Chicago needed more convincing to give your solo project a second chance, if they remember you from D4L and weren’t impressed then? What would it take?
Shawty Lo: What would it take? It would take them to come down here and see that I got the streets on lock. A lot of rappers, betrayin’ my street, you know what I’m sayin’? Bankhead, you know what I’m sayin’, that’s how they get on, betrayin’ it. If they would come down here and bring the cameras, they’d see – Shawty Lo, I’m still on Bankhead. It’s only a couple of groups from Bankhead that I could say, like Parlae from [Dem] Franchise, or Shop Boyz, but the rest of you rappers that ain’t from Bankhead. I give them a tour of the ghetto or the ‘hood or whatever. The rest of them take them to the good spots, like the Bookcase and places like that, but I’m gonna show you them main areas – so bring the cameras!
DJ Booth: Well, if I come down to Atlanta I’m gonna take you up on that tour offer. As you alluded to a little bit earlier in our interview, D4L saw major success – two singles in particular, “Laffy Taffy” and “Betcha Can’t Do It Like Me”. What do you as a solo artist have to do to match and then outdo the success that D4L saw as a collective?
Shawty Lo: Well, I keep workin’ hard – I can’t slow down. I gotta keep workin’, man. I gotta do my thing. Right now I got a buzz I just love and I think I’m about the hottest thing goin’ right now in Atlanta – no offense to no one, but, you know.
DJ Booth: Well, let’s talk about Atlanta for a second. Lately, Atlanta has not churned out the amount of talent the hip hop nation saw it produce a few years ago, when T.I. and Jeezy came into their own on the national spotlight. Did fans get tired of hearing the same type of snap and trap music, or were they just waiting for someone else to blossom?
Shawty Lo: I feel the truth overrule all that bullsh*t– there’s a lot of bull that you’re hearing from different rappers, man. But the truth, you know, the truth overrules.
DJ Booth: Most of your new promo pics were taken in front of a pink backdrop – is that your favorite color, Lo?
Shawty Lo: Nah, pink isn’t. My favorite color is especially black.
DJ Booth: I see you rockin’ a large D4L necklace wherever you go. Jewelry, however, is not a sound, long-term investment to make – what other entrepreneurial ventures have you made?
Shawty Lo: Real estate, car dealership, that’s about it.
DJ Booth: That’s enough, because you also got music on your plate. When is, “Units in the City” officially dropping?
Shawty Lo: October 30th.
DJ Booth: Tell everybody why, when it is available, in stores and online, they need to go out and make that purchase.
Shawty Lo: You need to go get, “Units in the City,” man, ‘cause it’s straight, authentic, the real story of Shawty Lo. No click, slow flow, I got my own flavor, and I’m doin’ my thing. Let’s get it!
DJ Booth: Give everybody a website or a Myspace address so they can find out more about “Units in the City.”
Shawty Lo: My Myspace is myspace.com/therealshawtylo.
DJ Booth: The real Shawty Lo – is there a lot of fake Shawty Lo Myspace pages circulating?
Shawty Lo: There are about fifteen of ‘em. We had to put up, “The Real Shawty Lo.”
DJ Booth: If you wanna make some real good money, you might want to think about suing Tom, the creator of Myspace, ‘cause he’s got plenty.
Shawty Lo: He got plenty – I know he do. [laughter]
DJ Booth: I wish you nothing but the best of luck with this endeavor and much success into the future.
Shawty Lo: Okay Z, I appreciate you.