From Nothin' To Something: How I Launched An Indie Rap Career
On the heels of his first "real" album, "Keep It On The D-Lo," Bay Area rapper D-Lo chronicles his journey from jail to MySpace to working with E-40, Tyga and others.
My Rap career started in 2006 when I was just fucking around with my partners who were rapping. I would always come by the studio to smoke and just hang around, but one day I said, “Fuck it. Let me write a rap or two.” I started jumping on songs here and there, and then after a while, I made “No Hoe” by myself, because I had learned how to make beats off of the “Fruity Loops” program. Days after making that song, I put it up on my MySpace page, and the reaction was crazy. MySpace was a good outlet for new artists at the time, but I also did a lot of footwork and burned a lot of CDs of “No Hoe.” I would pass them out everywhere I would go—sometimes for free and sometimes for just one dollar. I’d go to bus stations and high schools armed with copies. I went to jail for a year, and by the time I was released, “No Hoe” had become one of the biggest songs on the streets in the Bay Area. I had my first ever performance the very day that I got out of jail, and when I performed that song, all of the kids were singing it, and it blew my mind. The reaction to the song made me take this shit seriously. MySpace even gave me a front page acknowledgment for getting a million views. “No Hoe” started my career and if it wasn’t for that song, I probably wouldn’t even be rapping right now.
Maintaining The Footwork Grind In The Internet Era
I don’t see rappers putting in that footwork grind anymore. I don’t see people passing their CDs out or flyers for their shows. There are a lot of rappers who are coming up in the game that ask me how I was able to get my career going. It’s a lot different now from when I first started, because there’s an abundance of Internet sites and social media outlets, and I feel that artists rely on them too much. You still have to put the footwork in and network with DJs by going to the clubs and getting them to play your songs. A lot of people shy away from the footwork because they are afraid of rejection. When I was out on the streets promoting “No Hoe” and faced rejection, I would give the CD away for free at times. If they didn’t want to buy it, I’d just tell them that they could have it. I didn’t really care, because what was more important to me was getting my name out there. If they still don’t want to take it for free, then there’s nothing that can be done about it, and you just move on to the next person.
How I Aligned With Tyga & YG As Mutual Fans
Tyga and YG were already fans of my music when I met them. I would do shows throughout the West Coast, and I would run into them at some of the smaller functions as they were still coming up in the game as new artists. As Tyga became an established name, he performed at Summer Jam out in the Bay. His brother told him during his performance that I was backstage, and so Tyga announced to the audience that he had a surprise guest and asked for me to come out. His DJ put on “No Hoe,” and I got to rock that on the Summer Jam stage that day. After the show, Tyga asked me to give him a song to hop on, and two days later I sent him “Get Her Tho.” The easiest way to network with some of these bigger artists is to have a hot song in the streets. It doesn’t even need to be on the radio, although that helps. You could be the coolest dude these guys could ever meet but can still get no response when asking for a feature. If you have a song that’s hot in the streets, then most of these big artists will fuck with you—especially if they are from another region because they want to increase their buzz in your area. It becomes a situation where we can both help each other. They help me out by allowing me to secure big features for my independent release, and I help them out by getting a bigger presence in the streets out here. I’ve met a lot of artists through the “Get Her Tho” song like French Montana, Red Café, Big Sean, and Chris Brown, who also gave me a shout out on the “Function” remix with E-40. Getting the support of E-40 also has been huge for me. When he first started to work with me, he told me that it was because he noticed my grind and respected the fact that I put myself on.
Staying Focused Despite My Legal Issues
All of this has led up to my new album, Keep It On the D-Lo. I’ve put out previous projects, but this is what I consider my first “real” album, and it’s taken so long to get to this point due to legal issues. After my first jail stint that I mentioned previously, I caught another case which kept me away from the Rap game. This case would have given me 15 years had I been convicted, and that discouraged me from recording while I was fighting it. I knew that if I lost, I wouldn’t have a Rap career anymore. The case took about two years, and I ended up beating it. Once I got that out of the way, I immediately jumped back on my Rap shit, and I’ve bounced back. Niggas deal with certain things in the street, and those are things that I no longer deal with. My mind is straight focused on this Rap shit and nothing else now. I wish my momentum wasn’t interrupted after “No Hoe,” but it’s coming together now with the help of Empire Distribution, and we’re gonna get this shit rocking.
Oakland's D-Lo gained attention back in 2007 when he went into his friend's studio alone one night to find his swag on the mic. The resulting single, "No Hoe," led to a remix with E-40. Some five years later D-Lo dropped the Tyga-assisted song "Get Her Tho," which garnered 1.5 million YouTube views. On April 1, D-Lo released his retail debut album, "Keep It On The D-Lo," which includes features from Tyga, YG, John Hart, Mitchy Slick, Keak Da Sneak and is now available via iTunes. Follow D-Lo on Twitter @MRNOHOE.