D4L’s Shawty Lo is out to assert that his trap turned rap career will last longer than a snap of the fingers. Few could have anticipated that D4L, the group most famous for 2005s often-mocked but inescapable Laffy Taffy, would spawn Atlantas next bona fide trapper-turned-rapper. But Shawty Lo is winning over even the skeptics with the heavily remixed street anthem of the moment, Dey Know, where he self-assuredly gives a nod to his haters over producer Balis burly horn ensemble. Admittedly not a lyricist after only two years of rapping, Shawty Lo has cultivated a style he dubs the slow flow, narrating his trap tales in a quiet drawl tinged with menace. The D4L founder has deftly disassociated himself from everything snap, except of course the team he remains loyal to and the money garnered from their hits. With a well publicized Raw Report DVD entitled Shawty Lo: The Real Bankhead Story, the former drug dealer once dubbed the Colonel brings viewers along as he visits the infamous Bowen Homes projects in Bankhead and vouches for his authenticity. Claiming to be one of only a handful of Atlanta rappers to rightfully rep Bankhead, Shawty Lo has traded subliminal shots with fellow Atlanta native T.I. that some believe went beyond the music. On an up north trip to promote his D4L/Asylum records solo debut, Units In the City, which drops February 26, L-0 spoke on his criminal past, the alleged beef with T.I., and the rumors that are sometimes a difficult symptom of fame. AllHipHop.com: With your recent success, are you still feeling like the underdog of the industry?Shawty Lo: Yeah, in my time I always rooted for the underdog, and I feel like I still am the underdog. AllHipHop.com: You were surprised by the creative direction that D4L was going in when you were locked up, so what was your original vision for the group as their leader?Shawty Lo: Basically the music we were making is kind of like the music Im making now, but it just happened. The snap movement happened like that, I got a producer named DJ Pooh, he came up with the beat for Betcha Cant Do It Like Me, and we had another producer K-Rab, he did the Laffy Taffy. I was in jail seven months before I came home, and I think it was Stuntman, he was like, We got another hit, and I said Let me hear it, and in my head I was like That aint it, but when that came on it was it, thats what we had to roll with.AllHipHop.com: Do you find yourself constantly having to live down the Laffy Taffy image now that youve launched your solo career? Shawty Lo: Nah, basically I wasnt ever at the forefront, I was behind the scenes. I did not consider myself a rapper then; I was like Baby is to Cash Money, Puffy to Bad Boy. I was the man behind the scenes, and I just added myself to the group to add more flavor.AllHipHop.com: What does the rest of the group think of the direction youve gone in?Shawty Lo: Basically they know, they proud of me. I was arrested in 2004 and I got out in July of 2005, but when I came home you saw people saying, D4L, they nothing without Fabo, they were just criticizing, saying different stuff. So when I came home I had did this song Im da Man around the beginning of October [of 2005]. That was the first solo song that I ever did, and people around my neighborhood and the ATL area said, That songs a hit! Thats the kind of music we want to hear from you, we know you really lived it. We cant vouch for these other rappers that say they from Bankhead and Atlanta, but I thought it was true in my back of my head, I didnt say nothing but I agreed with them so I started recording more songs. I hooked up with DJ Scream and did the mixtape [Im Da Man] and everybody said, Shawty Lo, we think you the one, and thats how I came from the crack smoke.AllHipHop.com: So you think people were encouraging you to go solo because they thought you were more real than other rappers?Shawty Lo: I guess the streets wanted to hear an album from me cause they figured that was my style of rap. No snap music. But I aint finnin to stop my money, Im a CEO thats how I get my money. But the rap Im rapping now, thats my life. Thats why I did the Raw Report DVD Shawty Lo: The Real Bankhead Story, for folks to get a visual on me. Cause what Im talking about is what I lived, my adventures. The rap I do, I call it slow flow, I aint rapped but two years and its a blessing.AllHipHop.com: What were the circumstances that drew you away from the trap game to the rap game? Shawty Lo: I had to give it up, the trap, cause I was a big dude in the trap game and when I got arrested in 2004, either I stay with it or I was going to jail and was going to stay in jail.AllHipHop.com: So how did you get the reputation as the Colonel in the streets?Shawty Lo: When I was growing up I was really rough. I was a real tough fighter when I was coming up, and I had older dudes that used to come up to me like Lo, when you round here fighting and doing your thing, they gonna follow you. And it just showed I guess, I used to be so bad and people around my neighborhood used to follow me. I had a crew, we used to listen to No Limit all the time, and they started calling us Lo Limit, and when I started getting money illegally in the drug game, that made me real powerful in the city.AllHipHop.com: A lot of rappers from ATL claim to have been heavy in the trap game before getting into the rap game, so what makes you realer then the next guy?Shawty Lo: The difference with me, you can bring your camera crew, you can bring anybody, Im still on Bankhead. No matter what I make, I still go to my neighborhood anyday, everyday like its normal. Like look at me [points to his D4L chains], its me, I could do what I want to do, they know I lived it. I bet you half the rappers who talk about what they done did aint take you to no place and say they really did it. But Im willing to put my life on it that I can take you to my hood, I can take you to Bankhead and I could take you to Bowen Homes, I can take you to Bankhead Court and they know I am telling the truth.AllHipHop.com: Bowen Homes has a notorious rep in Bankhead, what about it has given it that rep?Shawty Lo: Its a dangerous place man, I was born and raised there. I done seen plenty die, I done seen plenty go to jail and we were real poor and we had to get it how we live. We was unfortunate, we lived month-to-month rent, one check a month and all the utilities included into your rent. We didnt have Christmas, me and my sister, it was crazy.AllHipHop.com: You had 28 arrests and 4 convictions but you only did a one year bid, how did you pull that off?Shawty Lo: It was God, I dont know how I pulled it off myself. When they finally caught me around 2004 I was facing 20 to 40 years, but some kind of way it was a blessing. I had 3 different cases and I got a year for each case, but my lawyers got it ran concurrent, so they made me do one year. AllHipHop.com: The single Dey Know is huge right now, what are the other singles that you have planned to come out next from Units in the City?Shawty Lo: The album is really crazy, I got Done It All, I didnt know that would come to be a single right now, that got the streets of the south ablaze. If I was in Atlanta then the top song to come on would be Dey Know. I got singles like Foolish, You Can Count on Me, one called Live My Life, I got plenty singles on the album. AllHipHop.com: When you say the line Say he from the Westside, Godamn, it must be two sides, who are you talking about?Shawty Lo: A lot of them, all of em claim Bankhead. All I can say is Shawty Lo from Bankhead, Parlae from Franchize from Bankhead, Shop Boyz from Bankhead, so thats what Im talking about.AllHipHop.com: On the Umma Do Me Remix, a lot of people thought T.I. was addressing both you and Luda, did you get that impression too when you heard it?Shawty Lo: I didnt get that impression, he didnt call my name. If he call my name, I say his name. AllHipHop.com: You also have the line Got guns the same kind like T.I.s, was that a dig at him?Shawty Lo: That wasnt no dig, I was just telling the truth. Cause I been that way since knee high.AllHipHop.com: The word on the streets of ATL was that you and T.I. were going to go to war, and thats why he was strapping up Shawty Lo: No, I dont think we were going to go to war. It aint that serious.AllHipHop.com: Youve done songs with both Gucci Mane and Jeezy, do you ever run into problems being down with both of them?Shawty Lo: Both sides know Im real, what they got between each other is what they got, I dont interfere so Im neutral.AllHipHop.com: And do you think part of the reason you and Luda have collaborated is because you have a common enemy in T.I.?Shawty Lo: I dont have no enemies.AllHipHop.com: But you have haters, made famous with your line Big up to all my haters Shawty Lo: My haters are my motivators. I love my haters, thats why I say Big Up to them. If it wasnt for my haters, I wouldnt be in my shoes right now. They the ones who didnt think I could do it and they made me go out and do it.AllHipHop.com: With the fame comes a lot of rumors, how do you deal with the rumors?Shawty Lo: Ive been dealing with rumors all my life, so they dont affect me. They talk about God and Jesus. There have been rumors on me since 94, Im still here.