Artist: One Be LoTitle: S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M.Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman
The name One Be Lo may not immediately ring a bell, but chances are, it soon will. With the release of his official solo debut, S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M. (Fat Beats), this promising MC/ producer also know as One Man Army of Binary Star is properly reintroducing himself with a top-notch release. There’s no denying that this Detroit-area native, born Nashid Sulaiman, wears his underground status on his sleeve (see his Subterraneous crew’s name for proof). But while he may be going against the current of the mainstream with his music, his new album is accessible enough to help propel him past his under the radar status.
Opting to keep his songs short and to the point, One Be Lo openly shares slices of his past and adeptly raises social awareness on wax, thankfully without sounding sensational or too preachy. Inventive love songs, street anthems and introspective numbers are all present here. Whether exposing the ills of the media and television on “Propaganda” or providing an unabashed portrait of life in the hood on “the Ghetto,” Lo offers eye opening Hip-hop that just about anyone can appreciate.
Lo accomplishes this with his comprehensible vocab, largely relatable perspectives and a steady flow. He doesn’t talk down to the listener, but rather attempts to see eye to eye with them. And the timeless production crafted by himself and his Subterraneous crewmember Decompoze, almost always sets just the right tone—from the funky (“Propaganda”) to the dramatic (“the Ghetto”).
Ever since being released from a brief incarceration in the mid-90s, One Be Lo has been putting in work building a name for himself and his crew. And now, some ten years later, he’s presenting an album good enough to make even the legendary Pete Rock proud. The meaning behind the acronym S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M. says it best about this release: Sounds of Nashid Originate Good Rhymes and Music. Enough said.