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The best kept secret in music


"Quitting the Band"

While it seems most MCs claim they were writing rhymes in the womb, Liberty Heights native LOS confesses that he “got into music late.” Until he was 18, LOS’ primary passion was basketball. But the murder of his father, a basketball coach at a high school LOS had planned on transferring to, led the teenager to another school—and down another career path. “That’s where I found music, because every day at lunch, dudes would be spittin’, freestylin’, battlin’,” he says.

Despite the late start, 25-year-old LOS (pronounced like the last syllable of “Carlos”) looks the part of a hip-hop devotee during a conversation at this writer’s apartment with MTV Jams on in the background, headphones hanging around his neck with a pen and pad close at hand. When a video by one of his favorite MCs, Lupe Fiasco, comes on, he momentarily stops the interview to give it his full attention. Still, in his ripped jeans, do-rag, and gold fronts, he looks more like a regular kid you’d see on a Baltimore street corner than the latest MC signed to Bad Boy Records.

In 2000, about a year after he began rapping seriously, LOS recorded his first mixtape and began making the rounds in local rap battles, eventually making trips up to New York with his friend Kelly, who introduced the fledgling rapper to several labels, including Roc-A-Fella. The label’s partnership of Jay-Z and Damon Dash was already disintegrating at that point, though, and fortunately LOS got a tip-off that saved him from trying to board a sinking ship. He signed on with local label Da Bloc Inc. in 2001. “It’s Baltimore shit, it ain’t New York, it ain’t Roc-A-Fella,” LOS says. “I got my home base, so fuck all that. I’d rather build from here.”

In 2002, when hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs took control of the Making the Band reality show franchise for MTV and held open auditions for a new rap supergroup, LOS saw an opportunity to test his own skills. “I was like, ‘I’m just gonna go and do it just for the hell of it, just to see if I can make it all the way to the end,’” he says. When he did make the final cut to become one of the six members of the group, LOS opted out. And because he didn’t sign any of MTV’s release forms, a bare minimum of his footage ended up in the show’s first season.

Although Da Band, as Diddy later christened the group, released one moderately successful album, LOS’ decision has proven to be a wise one. Bad Boy disbanded the group at the end of Making the Band 2’s third season, and in October 2005 LOS got another chance to audition in front of Diddy, this time as a solo artist. “He was actually gettin’ his nails done,” LOS says. “He’ll look another way to see if you can demand his attention, and that’s how he determines who’s a star, who’s not.”

At first, the distracted CEO didn’t even recognize LOS, until the rapper ripped through a performance of “10 Minute Million Dollar Massacre Freestyle,” a marathon mixtape track in which he rhymes relentlessly over nearly two dozen different beats. “At the end of that, he said, ‘Don’t I know you?’”

Once Diddy realized that he was facing the same kid who walked out on Making the Band years earlier, LOS recalls that the exec told him, “‘I was gettin’ ready to base my whole show around you. And you left.’” In 2006, LOS signed on with Bad Boy as a solo artist, just as the long-running label was experiencing a string of pop hits. Meanwhile, the label’s legacy of hard-core East Coast lyricism, as established by Bad Boy’s first and still most famous artist, the late Notorious B.I.G., is in a state of disrepair that LOS is positioned to restore. When Diddy recently previewed Bad Boy’s 2007 releases for the press at Sony Studios though, LOS received nary a mention, indicating that it may be a while before his moment in the limelight. In the meantime, Da Bloc has begun gearing up promotions for its franchise artist, including an extravagant homecoming event for LOS at Rams Head Live that was held June 2, where he performed with Bad Boy label mate Cheri Dennis.

One of the rockier episodes on LOS’ path to Bad Boy, a 2004 dispute with local street DVD company One Love Films, prompts the rapper to shrug, “If someone ain’t hatin’ on you, you ain’t doin’ somethin’ right.” After a minor disagreement, director Skinny Suge lashed out at LOS by ridiculing him on the infamous Stop Fuckin’ Snitchin’ DVD. Unfortunately for LOS, that low-budget documentary led to national headlines, broadcasting Suge’s unflattering portrayal much farther than anyone expected. LOS recorded a dis in response to Suge, but ended up getting arrested on the way to a club where he planned to perform the song. He now regards that incident as a blessing in disguise, giving him a chance to squash the beef before it escalated. Although some of the negative talk from Snitchin’ still lingers, the MC points out, “Now everybody wants to know, ‘Who is this LOS this guy is talkin’ about?’”

Answering that question remains the biggest challe - City Paper


Los - "10-Minute Million Dollar Massacre" Freestyle (mp3)
Despite the title, this joint is closer to 11 minutes, and he runs through about 20 different beats. He did the track for a mixtape for Owners Illustrated magazine, and a performance of this for Diddy is what got Los signed to Bad Boy. There's also a video of him performing the whole thing on his MySpace page.

Los - "Die Hater" (mp3)
This is the first Los track to appear on an official Bad Boy mixtape, last year's Don't Call It A Comeback.

Skarr Akbar f/ Los - "Gunshots" (mp3)
Los and Skarr always do hot songs together, good combination. This one has appeared on a lot of mixtapes, Da Bloc Radio: The Triangle Offense, The Hood Legend: The Best of Skarr Akbar, Part 3 and a Whoo Kid mixtape.

Los - "Ain't Shook At All" (mp3)
"This is a pretty short track but it's hot, and it's always good to hear something from Los....

D.O.G. f/ Huli Shallone and Los - "Get Money" (mp3)
"This is really one of the dopest Baltimore posse cuts I've heard all year that wasn't a remix of someone's solo song.... They all sound good on this beat but Los's verse really kills it." - Governmentnames.com


Guilty Until Proven Innocent (album)
G5 Certified Fly (album)



LOS is from Liberty Heights and Garrison in Baltimore, MD a city known for hustlers who get it in the streets. The city has been well publicized on shows like The Wire and The Corner. Now Baltimore has another conduit to catapult the city to national visibility. LOS has been on his grind since 1999 and his hunger showed in the battles he dominated. He solidified himself in the streets and then signed with Da Bloc in 2001 increasing his momentum and star power dramatically. Da Bloc proved to be the conglomerate that could propel his inimitable talents to the heights of star status. Record executives in the music industry became aware of this buzz worthy movement. His subsequent signing with Bad Boy came after several meetings with Diddy. LOS connected with the mogul on many levels and felt Diddy really shared his vision.

LOS signed with Bad Boy and immediately began working on his album. The album is entitled "Ambitions of a Fly Guy" and is filled with his signature quixotic flow and lyrically witty conundrums. He exponentially tells B-more's story to the world so everyone can walk the streets of his city vicariously through his rhymes. LOS has traveled all over the country and his diversity shows on the album. But regardless of his influences, he gives his B-more perspective on any track thrown his way. LOS chopped and screwed the hook on his song "Doe Cheese" while paying homage to B-more's vernacular. He represents the streets on "Invincible" which is definitely an ode to the hustlers and the B-more state of grind. He slides from the bounce and gangsta for a minute and gives the strippers at Norma Jeans and the Hustler Club a reason to "Shake It Up Like Dice" on one of the more grown and sexy cuts off the album. LOS has created an enormous buzz by being consistent over the years dropping the hottest mix cds in the streets and performing with the biggest names in the country. With all the momentum he has created his debut album is highly anticipated and it lives up to the hype.