Also known as One Man Army of the now defunct group, Binary Star hailing from Detroit, One Be Lo’s official solo debut LP carries an acronym which stands for: Sounds Of Nashid Originate Good Rhymes And Music. With his 1988 upbringing on hip hop, influenced mainly by artists such as KRS-ONE and Ice Cube, it’s not surprising to see how his aggression on the mic coupled his deep awareness to walk the righteous path, aims to sway other emcees and the industry as a whole, into a higher understanding of intellect and realism as it relates to life. And his experiences have been nothing but real, surviving the bloodstained streets of Motown, but not escaping a small stint in jail, being incarcerated for a few years from 1994. His time in jail was well spent, learning about business practices and the music industry, and most of all, advancing his writing skills on the mic, resulting in explosive bursts of polished lyrics on tracks such as “Rocketship”.
After captivating the Midwest as part of Binary Star in the late 1990′s touring alongside once-partner Senim Silla, with releases of the New Hip-Hop EP and their first LP titled, Waterworld, One Be Lo’s post-Binary Star releases of Waterworld Too in 2001 and F.E.T.U.S. in 2002, both on his own independent label, Subterraneous Records, all groomed the underground circuit in anticipation for his best work yet. With the excellent production handled by One Be Lo himself and Decompoze (collectively known as the Trackezoids), S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M. drives a youthful energy - with just the right level of maturity - unable to be duplicated by veteran emcees who deliver past experiences with the utmost finesse. Read the song title to “enecS eht no kcaB” backwards, don’t get giddy, and try to keep up to the nibble dexterity of his flow, while soaking in this laid-back jazzy piano loop that makes you wish your ride had autopilot. As Lo’s fury starts to unfold, but this time away from his display of lyrical skill, focusing this time more on his gifted insight, he calls out the irresponsible hypocrisy of the controlling media on “Propaganda,” then spills a grim and detailed picture of inner-city chaos, depression and hopelessness on “The Ghetto” where the eerie violin blows a cold and heartless wind across your ear. While many emcees have time and time again touched on the very same subject of ghetto strife, Lo freshly articulates it. Making the edutainment of witty rhymes and hip-hop productions something you look forward to, the LP’s solid jazz foundation and Lo’s venomous quotes on “Axis” blast the ignorant with flows bringing to light the shame so many of us are guilty of: “It don’t take a professor, to see the oppressor got the whole treasure/Now how many Africans slain for one platinum chain on your dresser – I know better just because I know better. Tell me who you trust when you in your new truck/some of us dying over a few bucks, killers old enough to ride in a school bus/with brothers like these who needs the Klu Klux.” “Sleepwalking” featuring singer Ka Di adds to the damage, again exemplifying the knowledge and awareness One Be Lo is willing to share, even when it points a finger at the ‘flyest emcees being the biggest pagans’.
As the hardcore onslaught of concrete jungle stories continue on “Deceptacons” and “Can’t Get Enough” featuring Magestik Legend,” the jazzy loops pound away in perfect timing, fulfilling the cycle of Lo’s crack-infested life tales. Although he’s a little one-dimensional, harboring on replicating the life experiences of hardship, Lo intertwines creative personification via “Evil of Self” featuring Abdus Salaam, much like Jeru’s classic “You Can’t Stop The Prophet”. And his ability to consciously search the spiritual meaning behind “The Future,” or rock the mic over the butt-shaking, soulful groove on “Unparalleled” is reassuring that there’s always solid evidence of hopefuls elevating hip-hop, outside of the mainstream themes. This just makes you wish the rest of the industry would follow suit.
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