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One Be Lo - conducted by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman  

Life Lessons

January 2005

New name, different attitude, same great music. Formally One Man Army of the Hip Hop group Binary Star, One Be Lo is a changed man. Now on his own, One Be Lo is as focused as he has ever been. With a new sense of hunger, his new solo album S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M. is a trip down memory lane to when Hip Hop was only about good music, not gimmicks. But behind the music lies the story of a man who has overcome the odds his entire life. One Be Lo is proof that you can make the wrong choices in life but through hard work and perseverance you can get your life back on track. This is One Be Lo, and this is his story.

MVRemix: Tell us about your new album S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M.

One.Be.Lo: Sonogram is my official way of saying this is One Be Lo. Personally, I think the Binary Star joint was cool, but we just threw that shit together. There is a lot of creative, lyrical Hip Hop shit on there. But I don't feel you can listen to that joint and know who I am as a person. You can tell I have talent and I'm a dope emcee, but you can listen to Sonogram and say, 'Word, I know how he thinks about this. Or I know how he feels on this subject'. I'm kind of opening up my mind to the people listening to this album. So this is who I am as a person, this is what I believe in, but I'm also hitting you with some lyrical emcee shit. But at the same time I'm touching on some social issues and personal experiences. It's just more in touch with who One Be Lo is. If I can give it to you in a Binary Star form, this album is more "Cage Bird" and "Honest Expression" type shit on this album. As opposed to rip the mic, I'm this, I'm that.

MVRemix: One of my favorite tracks on the album is Axis, can you talk about that track and the message you wanted to get out.

One.Be.Lo: If I would say anything, that song probably took me the longest to write. I wanted to do a political, fuck George Bush song, but I don't want to sound like everybody else. But I felt I could not put out this album until I voiced my opinion on some social and political ideas. I splashed that all over the album, but on that song I wanted to get real deep on some serious issues. But I wanted to do it in a One Be Lo sort of way. The first verse, I wrote in one period, and I wrote the second verse a year later. I had to sit on it that long because I wanted to be that precise. The first verse is me talking to my people, and by that I mean the human race but specifically the black community. And I'm not trying to spit it on some self-righteous shit, but I wanted to say where we are. Because I'm not any better. The second verse goes out of the hood and I take it on a broader scale. I tried to touch on a little history, but I wanted to scratch the surface and provoke thoughts. I'm not trying to write a whole book on the history of black people or social issues. I just wanted to get people thinking about some real shit. And I called it Axis because as the world turns it involves everybody. Everyone on this planet is affected by the things on that song, whether you are black, white or whatever. So that is what I was trying to do with that song. I wanted to send a message without being preachy, and instead be creative. I'm Muslim, but I ain't trying to bash cats in the head with Islam. I just try to speak the truth. These are my opinions, take it or leave it.

MVRemix: Why didn't the Pete Rock remix for Deceptacons make the album? Because that track is crazy.

One.Be.Lo: The Pete Rock remix is dope but it came after the album was done. It came after the album was mastered. And I would have least liked to see it as a bonus cut, but it was already done. But Pete came through for that one and hooked me up. It was just a honor to be part of something like that.

MVRemix: What is the meaning behind the title S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M.?

One.Be.Lo: There are a bunch of different meanings. Basically, when I was working on this album I had this concept called life, which had its own acronym. But I wanted to make an album that took it back to when Hip Hop was for everybody. I grew up in a time where if you dropped Slick Rick's "Children's Story" everybody went crazy. It wasn't a east coast thing, or a west coast thing. It wasn't an old school or new school thing. Everybody went crazy when they heard "Rock The Bells". Now we are living in a time when everything is categorized. This is down south, this is Midwest, that is underground and this is mainstream. I'm trying to make music for everybody. So I dropped this project called The Fetus. And those were songs that I felt were good enough to put out, but at the rate of growth I am growing as an artist, I could never put out Sonogram and go back and put out those Fetus joints. So the Sonogram is a closer examination of me as an artist. It is a concept that is saying, let's get a detailed description of what is really going on, similar to a Sonogram when a woman is pregnant. Because you are waiting for this life to come and you wanna know if there is any defects, or how healthy it is, how much its gonna weigh, is it a boy or a girl? So basically, Sonogram is giving you an idea of what is coming next. 'What can you expect from me?' Listen to Sonogram. Everything I do is on a conceptual level. There is a general and subliminal meaning. It is an acronym for Sounds of Nashid Originate Good Rhymes and Music. But ultimately, I want people to get a better idea of who I am.

MVRemix: What else do you have going on in the future?

One.Be.Lo: The whole plot and plan is just to make an impact, not only in Hip Hop but in the world. I would love to make music that transcends the boundaries of Hip Hop. That Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder type of music. Those people transcended the boundaries of the genre of music they were in. I would love to make some music that a punk or rock fan would like. Someone who doesn't listen to Hip Hop, but they can fuck with my music. So I'm trying to build a dynasty with this Subterraneous movement. I want to surround myself with other artists that can help bring this movement to the people. It is more than beats and rhymes, we are trying to make an impact on peoples lives the same way in which Hip Hop influenced me growing up.

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"The Pete Rock remix is dope but it came after the album was done. It came after the album was mastered. And I would have least liked to see it as a bonus cut, but it was already done."