One.Be.Lo: Be Lo the Influence

Posted up in Seattle on a breezy Saturday afternoon, One Be Lo awaits an evening performance as he discusses his formula for a humble rap career. The Pontiac, Michigan wordsmith’s life thus far has been a whirlwind of worldwide touring and networking, having no real promotional vehicle to drive concertgoers other than himself. Lo possesses an unshakeable swag – a man of substance with a good heart. “You could be this amazing artist or this amazing producer, but if you’re an asshole, people don’t care about your beats and your rhymes,” he explains. “A lot of people are so caught up in their own ambitions, the only thing they think about is the opportunity. [Fans] are people, and when you talk to people and treat ‘em like people, they’ll support you forever.”"When you talk to people and treat ‘em like people, they’ll support you forever."[One Be Lo "War"]One BeLo’s story could be perceived as a series of calculated steps. Any emcee who is “unsigned” by textbook definition might have given up long ago, had their successes not been marked by songs about dance moves or Billboard chart-toppers. However, Lo has spent the greater portion of his successful rap career on the “no plan” plan. In other words, go with the flow and let the music speak for itself. So far so good. A decade ago, following a stint in prison, Lo (then OneManArmy) and former fellow inmate Senim Silla formed the critically acclaimed rap outfit Binary Star. Despite their short-lived success, Binary Star left an imprint on Hip-Hop through their heavy doses of SAT words glazed by simplistic underground beats of late ‘90s production. As creative differences led to the disbanding of Binary Star, their story remains open ended. One Be Lo shook the industry by his third solo LP, 2005’s S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M. (Sounds Of Nashid Originate Good Rhymes And Music), a work that declared it’s “step your game up” time for the run of the mill rapper. Lo’s cunning wordplay showed an emcee on the rise looking to merge Hip-Hop lessons with a good time. His most recent release R.E.B.I.R.T.H. (Real Emcees Bring Intelligent Rhymes To Hip-Hop) introduced a sharpened storyteller, always super-lyrical, but backed by intense beats that effortlessly carried from the car to the club. His next step, L.I.F.E. (Lo Is For Everybody), has no definitive clock to punch until the quality is there. “I’m just working on music right now,” explains Lo. “When I feel [L.I.F.E.] should come out a certain time, it will.”"I literally live it and breathe it and sleep it and drive it and eat it, so my job is Hip-Hop."[One Be Lo "Born & Raised"]As One Be Lo continues to make his mark as a citizen of the world, his unstoppable performances and personable demeanor solidify his notoriety. While his next moves are far from scripted and rely more on the mantra of where the day takes him, Lo is still shocked that he even made it this far. “Sometimes when I’m on stage, I’m thinkin’ about where I came from…and it’s overwhelming,” he admits. “Hip-Hop is my life. I literally live it and breathe it and sleep it and drive it and eat it, so my job is Hip-Hop.”