Chen Lo
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Chen Lo

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Hip Hop Soul

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The most challenging thing about being a consumer of hip-hop, is finding an artist who exemplifies artistic balance, and embodies the complexities of human existence in his or her work. I know…it sounds heavy. But it’s really not. All I want is an intelligent emcee, that doesn’t come across as pretentious, a hood emcee that doesn’t come across as crazy, and lastly, a good emcee – one who is mighty with the pen. Multiply that by sincerity, and the product is “my man,” (or woman). In this case, the product is Chen Lo.

Hailing from the borough of Brooklyn, Chen Lo decided to don his new mixtape, The Inkwell, an interesting title that should not be overlooked as just another arbitrary moniker that people - Black people - could gravitate toward. Instead it brings up some interesting ideas (besides the obvious, cheeky metaphor of an awesome emcee, digging deep with the pen into the Inkwell). In the popular movie “The Inkwell” after which this mixtape is named, there are two families: the family of an ex-activist, and a black bourgeoisie family. They are related, and come together at the stiff upper-crust beach community, The Inkwell. The communicative struggle the two families go through, and the different sets of ideals, only makes me question how The Inkwell relates to Chen Lo, and his work. Is he examining the struggle between both sides of Black life? Is he the example of where they meet in the middle? Is it more than just about race, but instead about the dialogue and dichotomy that exists within almost everything, i.e., love, family, dreams, and even hip-hop itself? I think he’s tackling all of the above.

Besides the title, I’m pleased to also exclaim that there’s some good music on this project. Some really good music. A few standouts include, “Don’t Go,” “Give It All Up,” and, “Roll Up.”

“Don’t Go,” a hard-hitting, soul stirring track over which Chen Lo weaves interesting tales of jeopardy, is nothing short of sharp. From discussing a child in Texas who fears his father will be lynched on his way to vote for Barack Obama, to a slimy tale of a secret relationship gone wrong, Chen Lo definitely hits the mark when it comes to imagery.

“Give It All Up,” is an anthem for any dedicated artist in a relationship, and the struggle that comes with deciding where that dedication is most deserving. But Chen Lo declares that nothing is worth the sacrifice of his family. Not even his music.

“Roll Up,” one my personal favorites, is simply a swagger track. In the first verse, Chen Lo spits fire…literally. He intricately describes his introduction to marijuana, but holds true to his integrity by ending the verse with “…though I might’ve done it, ain’t somthin’ I’m promotin.” During the space between verses, he admits that the next verse has nothing to do with the first, and that he just was in the mood for displaying his wordplay. The second verse just boasts how great he is, a timeless tradition in hip-hop, intensely stating lines like, “…labor of love and yet you lovin’ my octaves/like Lo rockin’ liberation the opera…” Black Thought? Is that you?

Chen Lo’s, The Inkwell Mixtape is more than worth a listen. It’s a necessity for all hip-hop heads searching for a seemingly whole emcee that encapsulates intelligence, swagger, and talent. And to top it all off, he has a pretty good ear for production. The beats knock hard, for all you beat junkies. The Inkwell Mixtape is a place to find dialogue (well, monologue really) about the complexities of “it all,” sometimes explicitly and other times implicitly. Either way, since it’s coming from Chen Lo, it’s always dope.

- Jason Reynolds - Jason Reynolds


"Chen Lo, has a lot more on his mind than the average performer...Lo is all about using his music to impact communities in a positive way." - mtvU, mtvU Hot Seat (Dec 03, 2008)



"...his swagger and intelligence are just what the game could use."
Carly A., djbooth.net (Sep 30, 2008) - djbooth.net


"His style is one that takes you back to a time where there were meanings behind every song, and painting pictures vocally were second nature."
- Serge Fleury, sixshot.com (Jun 12, 2008) - sixshot.com


Discography

The Biggest Secret Mixtape 2007
"Brooklyn" ft Damaja D and Mo Betta Blues (Movie Sountrack Single) 2008
"Drifter" ft. Whosane 2009
"Threats" Jean Grae ft. Chen Lo 2008
"The Inkwell" Mixtape" 2009
"ABC's" Remix K'naan ft. Chen Lo

Photos

Bio

Chenits Pettigrew (b/k/a Chen Lo) has been preparing for the opportunity to serve his entire life. He has always stood to use his individual gifts, skills and talents to enhance the wellbeing of his community. At 28, he is fortunate to have found his purpose and voice at an early age. His mission is simple: use music as a tool to empower communities toward relevant and practical change. As an artist, activist, teacher, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, Chen Lo is moving to approach this mission from several directions.

The Artist

Chen Lo uses his skill as an emcee in the spirit of West African oral traditions adding a contemporary relevance: “he swings a double-edged sword to entertain you and teach you.” After closely studying the methods of a young Nas, Black Moon and The Roots, Chen found stage life at the age of 15. He has shared the stage with the likes of The Roots, Dead Prez, Common, Erykah Badu, KRS-ONE, Brand Nubian, Amanda Diva, A Tribe Called Quest, Xzibit and has done work with Abiodun Oyewole of the legendary Last Poets. Chen Lo's hit single "Brooklyn," was chosen as the lead single for the "Blackout" motion picture soundtrack (a BET feature film). The video has been featured on BET'S 106 & Park and Rap City as well as various MTV Networks (MTV2, mtvU) and shows (YO! MTV Raps, The Lab, The Freshman). Furthermore, his artistic proficiency has led mainstream entities like MTV to request his services in various commercial campaigns.

Humanitarian/
Teacher
Inspired by serious racial turmoil while attending Penn State University (1999-2001) Lo recognized that music is a powerful method to move a message, raise awareness and motivate people to action. Through an organization Chen Lo co-founded, Sankofa Community Empowerment, Inc., he was able to use his music as a tool for culturally relevant and socially practical education for black youth in various major cities...this is his passion. In fact he has developed and implemented a Hip Hop Education Series called Creative Liberation that has run successfully in Pittsburgh, PA and Brooklyn, NY. The curriculum balances a historical analysis of black music from the West African Griot to Hip Hop culture with the technical aspects of writing, recording, performing and marketing purposeful products. Recently receiving an interdisciplinary Master’s from New York University in Art and Social Change has only served to increase Chen Lo’s level of expertise in this area of service.

In addition, Chen Lo has been working with an organization called Project Africa Global (PAG). PAG, a dedicated group of healthcare professionals that has conducted medical missions to the African continent for almost ten years, tapped Chen Lo to co-coordinate its annual AfricAmerica Youth Summit in Swaziland. Chen employs various creative arts including music/poetry, dance, visual arts and theater to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, while imploring the youth toward tangible change. He has also done art education and youth empowerment work in Senegal with the Seed Academy.

Entrepreneur
Chen Lo has always been concerned with generating resources in various forms (economic, material and human) and maintaining a level of self-sufficiency and independence. It is an ideology vital in achieving his goals. Making this theory practical, Chen Lo and a close partner have formally established a multimedia “inner-tainment” company called Liberation Music Group (LMG), LLC., which specializes in cultural expressions with a purpose through music, events, media (LMGTV) and merchandise. LMG is seeking to make a significant impact with its various cultural product offerings.