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Artist Of The Week - Rack-Lo
Monday, June 05, 2006

A few weeks ago I bumped into Rack-Lo at the Boot Camp Clik listening party in NYC. It had been years since I last interviewed Rack and as it turns out he’s up to even more now than he was back then. He has an album w/ Thirstin Howl III, Lo Down & Dirty, due out this summer, a concert DVD, Skill or be Skilled, on the way which will feature footage from Norway, London, Amsterdam, Miami, Ohio, NYC, San Francisco and Boston, he’s hosting his own internet radio show and he has a line of t-shirts and custom sneakers on the way. Rack also has two books ready to be released, one being his autobiography and the other is a coffee table photo book on Brooklyn’s “Lo” fashion movement. Rack, a founding member of the Lo Life movement, is one of the busiest men in the biz, and he’s this week’s artist of the week.

Adam Bernard: First off, for those who don’t know, tell everyone a bit about the Low Lifes.
Rack-Lo: The Lo-Lifes are the most talked about and most known Brooklyn fashion icons that really put the Polo label on the map as far as the streets are concerned. We are the dudes who taught all these other frauds how to do this for real. We built a fashion institution and culture that America still can’t shake to this very day and it’s only gaining more momentum. Yeah, it started out as a Polo thing, but it’s so much deeper than that, we stand for so much more and we have so much to contribute to the culture of Hip-Hop. The Lo-Lifes started out in Brooklyn New York, but now we are all over the world. What we created is Hip-Hop. It was ground breaking. It was innovative and well thought out. It’s a movement that has attracted the attention of some of the greatest Hip-Hop legends that have ever lived. We started a revolution and it really worked.

Adam Bernard: You’ve been involved in NYC’s Hip-Hop scene for well over a decade, what changes have you seen in it and how have those changes altered your perception of the game?
Rack-Lo: First is that NYC commercial Hip-Hop is at an all time low. Why? Because NYC rappers are being a bunch of followers, they’re not being original. A lot of NYC artists are not raising the bar on anything. I think a lot of people are lacking from a creative stand point. Another thing is that NYC artists do not support each other. Everybody wants to be the king and that has divided the city in a bad way. Also, a lot of the artists and record labels aren’t really producing Hip-Hop classics. You know why? Because everything they do is driven by money. They have lost the respect for the culture and have forgotten what Kool Herc, Afica Bambatta, Grand Master Flash and all the rest of the founders started and their reasons. They didn’t create Hip-Hop so artists can beef with each other and kill each other. No! They didn’t create Hip-Hop for NYC DJ’s not to break new NYC talent. No! They didn’t create this culture so all of these corporations can own it. No! They didn’t create Hip-Hop so the Hip-Hop police can follow people and have them under surveillance. And there’s a lot of other stuff going on in Hip-Hop in general that’s giving this entire culture a bad look. For instance, people done turned this music business into the streets. Pretty much everything that takes place on the streets is going on in the music business and that is so backwards. The gangs, the killings, the drugs, the snitching, jail and all those things that we try to break free from are waiting for us if we decide to pursue music careers and that’s because the power has been handed down to the wrong people, it’s been handed to people who have no clue of what Hip-Hop means and they don’t care about where it’s going, but mainly they really don’t realize and understand the impact it’s having on the people. Man, this music is powerful. You can either empower a person or destroy a person with the words you speak, so to me that’s powerful and I would like my music to inspire people in a positive way. I would hate for my music to influence some one to do something harmful to themselves or another. I ain’t down with that and I don’t sponsor or endorse that nonsense. I want to see this culture prevail and keep growing and expanding.

Adam Bernard: Now that you’ve broken down the current Hip-Hop scene, where do you feel the Low Life’s fit into it?
Rack-Lo: The Lo-Lifes have lived through every era of Hip- Hop so we fit in all the elements, the MCing, fashion, break dancing, graffiti, and DJing. We don’t take this game lightly, we do this for real. This is not an overnight success we are grinding. We’ve been doing our thing independently for a minute, so we have learned and mastered so much that we are pretty much self-sufficient. We are involved every step of the way on each product or release. So right now we are playing hard ball, but I appreciate it all.

Adam Bernard: You and your crew have an identity based on your real lives, ya’ll boosted clothing. How do you feel having a real identity versus having a label mandated and manufactured one affected your career?
Rack-Lo: Yeah, we were stick up kids, we boosted clothes, we jacked cars, we had beefs, we did jail time, we had collections of chicks and all that crazy street shit, but that was then, that’s the foundation. Our entire movement is built on street life, but we are corporate thinking individuals and one thing I truly want to do is bridge that gap. I’m taking this movement from the streets to corporate suites. Feel me! So yeah, our identity is a real identity. Like in the streets if you know Rack-Lo, and how I live my life, you know what I rep, and all of that is expressed in my music. So once you put my history and street credibility and match that with my music, it’s all the truth. My music is a reflection on my lifestyle. Having a record label or whoever place a label or identity on you is totally a violation.

Adam Bernard: Finally, the Low Life’s is a large crew, how does Rack-Lo stand out as an individual within the crew?
Rack-Lo: First and foremost I stand out because I’m a founder, I helped build this entire phenomenon, I’m a catalyst for Lo-Lifes, the birth of Lo-Lifes. As far as my music goes, I’m in a class by myself. I stand out, I mean my style, my word play, my aura, my swagger, my business mind and how I just go about making things happen. I’m more than just music, I can pretty much do it all.

MySpace Page: http://myspace.com/racklo


posted by Adam Bernard @ 8:32 AM  
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