Hip-Hop and the City of ATL are mourning this morning at news of the untimely death of rapper Shawty Lo, who was identified in a fatal car crash this morning. He was 40 years old.
I moved to Atlanta at a time where “Trap Muzik” was becoming prominent and when “Snap Music” was beginning to bubble crazy. Shawty Lo is a pioneer to that snap sound as a member of the group D4L. Hitting the clubs like Vegas Nights, Frequency and even Dave & Busters and Applebee’s, the snap sound would ring off in every venue. It was anything but corny in Atlanta. The women and the men were coming to the spots to show off their twist to the “lean and rock” and in some spots you would see the hardest dudes from every zone hitting their version and possibly with the hammer on them. If you weren’t leaning and rocking to snap music from 2005-2006, you weren’t hip to how the game go in ATL and you looked out of place in the club.
Shawty Lo was apart of one of the first sub-genre’s of rap music that made a national impact and actually made New York as a city get deep in their musical feelings. He wasn’t the star, we all know that was Fabo, but he was apart of the sound that literally change the feeling and the perception of the direction of rap music.
Much respect to Dem Franchise Boyz who I also credit for the sound. I know it was speculation on which group actually was first and as a person not from ATL, I won’t speak on that.
From July 2005 to I’d say December 2005, there wasn’t a young group of rappers that were not doing Snap Music or some variation. Whether cats were doing the “Bunny Hop” or “The Pool Palace” [My personal favorite] they were all in pursuit of getting some shine by doing the hot new sound, much like we see a lot of young cats doing today with the Drill Sound and Future’s sound. Don’t get me wrong a lot of people tried to steal everything Jeezy represented, but Snap music was the “get rich quick scheme” for a lot of the young cats coming up at that time. Seeing D4L and Dem Franchise Boyz crank out hits and get national TV exposure, platinum plaques and sign major label deals had many chomping at the bit to feel that success.
By Spring of 2006, I was already back in Chicago and Shawty Lo was already cooking up solo music. Pretty soon “I’m Da Man” and “Dey Know” was ringing off in Chicago clubs. Even in the midst of “beef” with T.I, who was scorching hot at the time, Shawty Lo was able to shine and put on for his city with a sound much different from the one he got in the game with. That’s not common and for a city to get behind, but it is a great thing to see.
Shawty Lo should be another testament to the artist that are “trying to get on” and “run their city”. Lo made an impact and prospered in ATL in the midst of T.I, Luda, Jeezy and Killer Mike all dropping albums in 2008, which is a much better hip-hop year than people remember. He’s had multiple children, he did time in jail and he still came out to pursue music and get a W. It’s all about living in the land of no excuses.
To the mainstream media, Shawty Lo may not be considered a “hip-hop legend” but from my short time in ATL I can assure you that he definitely is a legend where he’s from. Check out the captions of anybody from ATL right now for your confirmation. Not many people in hip-hop history help create a new sound, take it national, prosper and then switch up to achieve an equal level of success and more fame the second time around. That is why Shawty Lo will always have my respect. R.I.P Shawty Lo. Prayers and Blessings to your children and close family and friends.