His name may be Shawty Lo, but the D4L founder/member rides high on the charts this week as his debut single, “Dey Know,” climbs to No. 37 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs tally.
“It feels so good to know I made it on the charts. It was totally unexpected, too,” says the Atlanta native about scoring the chart position. “It feels good to know my people are behind me even though I haven’t been reppin’ for like two years.”
Indeed, it has been exactly two years since Lo and his “Down 4 Life” brethrens released their last collective track, the chart-topping “Laffy Taffy” off their self-titled D4L/Asylum debut, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Earlier that same year, they garnered some success with their debut single, “Betcha Can Do It Like Me,” a sassy track that introduced “snap music” to the mainstream. The song went on to peak at the No. 13 spot on the Hot Rap Tracks chart.
Despite the group’s success, the idea of a solo career was always brewing in the back of Lo’s wits. “Basically my role was like that of Baby from Cash Money. I got some street finances and made the group and the label happen, I put a verse down here and there, but that was it,” he explains.
But after releasing his first solo street record called “I’m Da Man” from the D4L debut album shortly after completing a one-year jail bid on drug charges in 2005, and seeing the response it received locally, Lo was sold. “I went to prison in 2004 and got out in 2005 and I knew I couldn’t go back to the streets, so it made me hit the studio even more,” says Shawty Lo.
He eventually joined forces with DJ Scream and released and independent mixtape titled “DJ Scream Presents Shawty Lo: I’m Da Man.” This year he put out a follow-up mixtape, “DJ Scream Presents Shawty Lo: I’m Da Man Pt. 2,” which includes the hit track “Dey Know,” among others.
Although Lo says his biggest incentive for pursuing a solo career was his loyal fan base (“the streets wanted to hear more of me cause my story is real,” says the 27-year-old rapper), he also admits questioning about the success of the group by music critics and fans alike served as motivation as well. “People in the streets were saying D4L was sh*t without Fa-bo, and I took that to offense. So, that made me go in there and work harder,” he says.
Now the D4L CEO is ready to release his first solo effort, “Units in the City,” set for a Feb. 5 release. The set includes the first single, “Dey Know,” and a remix to it featuring Ludacris, Young Jeezy, Plies and Lil’ Wayne. Other featured guests on the album include Gucci Mane and the the D4L camp. DJ Pooh, Ballistic and Imaculate are among the producers credited on the album. Although a second single hasn’t been chosen yet, Shawty Lo reveals that a track titled “Down at All” is in contention to be the follow-up track.
In addition, Lo says the members of D4L will be reuniting for their sophomore album to be released in the fourth quarter next year.
“Everybody’s doing their own thing right now. Stoney released a mixtape and Fa-bo has his deal with Atlantic,” says Lo, who describes his rhyming style as “Slow Flow.” “People always thought I looked like a rapper ’cause I had all this jewelry on. But stuff had to get worked out first. Fortunately I got out my street situation right in time. Now I’ve got a business and I’ve got myself together.”