V Exclusive: Shawty Lo: “I’m Not an Artist. I’m a Boss and an Artist.”
If southern hip-hop is one of your key hip-hop inter-genre interests, you might have been wondering, “Where in the world is Shawty Lo?” Carlos Walker didn’t completely fall off the hip-hop radar as his extensive list of mixtapes will prove, but he hasn’t been in the bull’s eye of the spotlight in a long while, until now. VIBE recently pinpointed the rapper at his new G-Unit headquarters, where he seems to be settling into quite well. It hasn’t been long since Shawty Lo inked the infamous 50/50 deal with the famed record label, but watching him walk into the office, you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.
A boss of sorts, the L.O. carries himself with a type of cultivated regality that might confuse him with G-Unit founder 50 Cent, himself. But, according to the ‘Bankhead Forever’ rapper, he deserved and acquired a seat beside the captain of this ship. In a sit down with VIBE.com, the Boss (Insert Rick Ross voice) of the ATL talks about being the “Talk of The Town” in G-Unit, the 7 hour meeting that lead to his signing, his relationship with ex-fiancée, Eceria Perez, and why he always will be Down For Life. – Tyler McDermott
How have you been?
It’s been about 5 years or so since you’ve impacted the rap game with D4L as well as solo artist, how have you been keeping the Shawty Lo name alive since then?
Not quite 5 years, it’s actually been about 3 years, because 2008 was when I won my last BET Award, 2007 was a really big year and 2008 the album came out.
Right, because I remember when “Dey Know” came out and that was the hottest track in the streets. But, how have you been keeping your name alive since then?
Basically, with mixtapes, I’ve just been putting out mixtape after mixtape, and working. I just had a label situation, where I had problems, I don’t really want to talk about it, it’s all good, but, now I’m in a new situation, a big deal with 50 Cent, D4L/G-Unit. I’m very happy right now.
I can respect that, so tell me about the G-Unit deal? How were you two able to agree to a completely 50/50 deal?
Well, you have Shawty Lo, I’m a boss, as well as 50 Cent is a boss. When I first came up here, I had seven deals on the table. G-Unit was one the names added to the list. When I met with 50, we had the longest meeting I had out of anyone else. We had a seven hour meeting and when I came to meet with 50 Cent he thought he was going to sign an ‘artist deal’, but when listening to all my material, seen all the videos, and how long we had the meeting , he said “I can’t sign this dude to any regular type of deal. He’s a boss.” I guess he felt like I needed to be my own brand and attack G-Unit with it. I’m going to be the outlet in the south and everywhere else. A lot of artists had to come when they’re down in the bottom and they had to come to New York or either California to get a deal, then it could it takes months to hear back from anything. I’m going to be the outlet in the south, where they want to go there for.
Are you making any explicit changes to your label, D4L to compliment the deal?
I had to make changes. I had to hire more staff. G-Unit is a big deal. They told me to play with it, they told me to go recruit artists from everywhere. I’m not just going to sign any artist, it takes more than just rapping; I want to create a movement. I want them to create a movement by themselves.
How are you able to determine who to trust and who to work with?
I have a staff that’s been with me for a couple of years now and I work off of them because they work very hard. They were with me when I first started, my publicist, my manager and my right-hand man. They help me to determine who to work with.
Are you changing “Shawty Lo” as an artist in anyway because of the deal? Are you still going to maintain that role as a boss?
I have to stay that way. If I change, people are not going to accept that.
As far as your personal life goes, you are cited to have ten children how does your family intertwine with your work?
To be honest with you, I didn’t decide to have ten children. It just happened. All of my kids came before I was a rapper. I don’t like to brag about my whole life. But, I was very low in drugs before ’96, when I went to prison, and all of my kids happened before then. I became a rapper and a solo artist in 2006, that’s when I made my first song. I was rapping for 4 or 5 years to be honest with you. As far as how my family intertwines with my work, they love my work. They see where I come from, the life I used to live. I’m from Bowen Home Projects off of Bankhead highway in Atlanta, Georgia. I had a rough life, my mother was on drugs, my dad was elsewhere, my grandmother raised my sister and I but she passed from cancer when I was 17. I’ve been on my own since I was 17. I did a lot in the streets, I was robbing, I was doing all kinds of stuff and people predicted me to be dead between the ages of 17-19. And some kind of way I was a huge drug dealer in the streets. I had 20 arrests, I had the best judge in Atlanta who gave me a year, and then I came home and worked on music. I made a complete 360. I turned my life around. I turned a negative into a positive.
Late last year you proposed to longtime fiancée Ecreia Perez, but about three months later, you called off your engagement, what really happened? I know you said in an interview with MTV News, that she did something disappointing, which you couldn’t forget, so that led the end of the 10-year relationship?
It was one month; actually it wasn’t even a full month. Every relationship has its problems. We’ve maintained a close relationship as friends. I wouldn’t say we’re better as friends but, we have a better relationship now than we did then. We’re in a better place now but we’re not together.
I was listening to your BHF mixtape and I came upon track number 5…
“I Do, I Don’t” (Laughs)
(Laughs) Is it about her?
It was probably just venting. It’s entertainment; I didn’t really mean anything by it.
Any ladies in your life now or is Shawty Lo a completely single man focused on music?
I’m focused on music. When I’m at the point of my life where I’m slowing down, I’ll probably look for a woman. But, right now, I’m focused on my music. If I had a woman, I’d want to be there for her. But since I’m in the entertainment industry and travel a lot, if I was looking for a woman, it would be hard and put a strain on the relationship. So when I probably settle down, I’ll look for a woman.
Late last year, you released a mixtape entitled Bowen Home Carlos, a tribute to your projects that was torn down in 2009. Now you’ve released a new mixtape entitled Bankhead Forever (BHF) which you cited to be a love letter to your hood, is this similar to Bowen Home Carlos in any way?
Bowen Home’s the projects and Bankhead’s the street. Bankhead runs down 25-30 miles. Bowen Home Carlos was a salute to my projects but B.H.F. is a salute to my street, everyone hollas at Bankhead. For example, if Manhattan is Bowen Homes, New York is Bankhead.
What should we expect from the already dropped B.H.F. mixtape? Any specific tracks we should look out for?
A track we’re releasing is as a single is called “Pocahontas”. I have the first song leaking off the mixtape, number 2 called “I Know”. Really hot track, it’s very hot. It’s explaining to the streets, what it is. A lot of people feel like I shouldn’t have signed with 50 Cent, because we’re both bosses. I like 50 Cent as person, he’s real f*cking genius. A lot of people feel like I should have signed with others and not gone to New York. But, I didn’t sign with him because he’s from New York, I signed with him because of who he is. It’s not about where you’re from; it’s about what you know.
When should we expect your book and movie from Bowen Home Carlos to re-surface?
It’s something that I’m working on in this new situation. I have my book coming, it’s called “Down for Life” and we have the documentary and the movie on my life story. But, the main focus is the documentary right now.
I’ve noticed that you have shirts with the B.H.F. mixtape name on them, is this turning into a possible movement or is/was it just a general form of advertisement?
B.H.F. is the movement. I just want to represent who I am and where I’m from.
Who are some artists currently featured on your D4L label and what should we expect from them?
Right now, I have Stuntman, my group called La Costra Nostra, Zone 6 and Jai-Jai. You should expect to hear from them soon.
When should we expect your album to drop from G-Unit? Have you started to work on your debut single yet?
I’m working on a track with 50 Cent called “Talk of the Town”, I don’t want to give the features away but that’s going to include some other artists. We just shot the video for Tony Yayo’s new song, “Haters” in Atlanta, with 50 Cent, and Kidd-Kidd an artist he signed out of Louisiana. I’m also being featured on MTV’s Made.
G-Unit has recruited rappers and artists from the south before, most of them we don’t hear from as often as we should, how is Shawty Lo different from the rest, how do you expect to impact the game through this deal, to come out successful and accomplished?
That’s an easy question. I’m not an artist. I am a boss and an artist. A lot of artists, depend on the label to do everything. I don’t depend on the label to do everything; I have my own label, so I’m a boss and an artist.
Check Out Shawty Lo’s Video Below for “Dope Boy Ding A Ling” Featuring Jai-Jai off of the BHF Mixtape: