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FutureStarrShawty Lo OR
His first big hit ``Dey Know`` turned into one of Dre’s most successful songs. He has a huge fanbase, and thanks to his success, his brand has grown immensely.
In hip-hop, the posthumous release is almost a subgenre unto itself. Premature death has a way of elevating artists into instant icons, forever immortalized by their final recorded words. When Carlos "Shawty Lo" Walker died in a tragic car accident last September at the age of 40, his untimely passing felt like the death of old Atlanta. On R.I.C.O. (out March 24 on 300 Entertainment), he resurrects it with an autobiographical portrait of his own bootstraps journey from discarded youth to 1990s drug dealer in the westside neighborhood known as Bankhead. Most rappers flash their hood credentials to gain notoriety. Not Shawty Lo. He gave Bankhead cred by virtue of his own renown. Unlike the average artist, he entered the music game already a street legend. That's why fellow Bankhead native T.I., who was already a star, couldn't simply leave Lo's 2008 diss record "Dunn Dunn" uncontested. The battle wound up being beneficial to both of their careers and ended in reconciliation, with the two of them living in neighboring mini-mansions. Consider R.I.C.O. the last brick in that demolition. It's both a celebration and a mourning of life — but also a recognition that, despite Lo's rough start, a success story emerged from such dire circumstances. He doesn't rap as much as charm his way through tracks, with a reed-thin, sandpapery voice that sounds like he's literally scratching his way to the top. Part of Lo's understated charisma has always been based in his sly delivery of dope-boy braggadocio. He offers more of the same on such songs as "Cookin'" featuring Yung Ralph, where Lo raps tongue-in-cheek about his whip appeal in the kitchen while cooking up bricks of coke. But on one of several somber standouts, "Do It," he adds levity with a confessional tone: "I ain't had s---, my life was rough / Barely had food, no toys for us," he raps. "Lionel Playworld no Toys R Us."Like most posthumous releases, R.I.C.O. features a bevy of guests, including Boosie Badazz, O.T. Genasis, and Lyfe Jennings, who sings the hook on the radio-friendly debut single "My Love." "Letter to My Father," an Auto-Tune ballad he dedicates to his father, Carl Lee Walker (who died just days before his son's fatal car crash), winds up serving as an ironic double eulogy. "We gon' walk again one day / We Walker boys right," Lo says on the songs outro. It's also proof that he was working on this final testament in his last days. The album closer "Why You Leave," reserves the LP's most special guest appearances for last, as two of Lo's children, Quando and Keke, take the baton from their father to deliver their own grief-filled verses.
R.I.C.O., however, is a working-class trap album — no superstar production, just pure authenticity. But it may be the most meaningful release to come from rap's capital city this year. The double-entendre title serves as Lo's nickname while referencing the acronym for federal racketeering and criminal conspiracy charges for which drug kingpins are often convicted. Lo's own criminal record stretched to 28 arrests and a year of imprisonment before the overnight success of "Laffy Taffy" — a song he initially disliked — changed his career path for good. (Source: www.npr.org)