Interview With Rack-Lo
The multi-talented rapper Rack-Lo was born George Billips 28 years ago in Brooklyn, New York. He is the third in his family line to have that name, with his grandfather and father being George Billips the 1st and 2nd respectively. Along came the 3rd and with him some serious Hip Hop flavour.
Rack-Lo's moniker was coined because he says, "I was one of the greatest boosters/money-takers of all time. I always racked up heavily." His influences were not from another booster though, but from Hip Hop in the sense of, "The culture itself."
Getting into the business was a DIY (do it yourself) job for Rack-Lo, Thirstin Howl III, Master Fool and Spit Sqoudd. They never got any big break, but instead Rack-Lo says, "We just took something we enjoyed doing and added a little business acumen to it." This arrival for Rack-Lo happened in 1997. It has been an independent road since the start.
So, we have a business-minded rapper in the Hip Hop game who writes all his own lyrics, inspired by "concepts" and "different approaches." What else? Well, Rack-Lo enjoys writing so much that he's currently working on his autobiography and contributing to the Lo-Life book and film documentary.
Rack-Lo's success obviously lies in music and his most successful singles to date have been "Spit In Ya Face" and "Skill Or Be Skilled," featuring Thirstin Howl III. He believes, "Those two singles put me in a class by myself." His debut album, Thou Shalt Not Steal has been a huge success, but he has a new album just out called Rack Lauren, and is working on a 3rd LP called Aracknofoebia, [released mid-2002]. Busy man!
Not content to be just a solo artist, Rack-Lo is also in a group with his wife called Lo-Life & Lo-Wife. The history of the group dates back to 1989 when the pair first met. They have been together ever since and as they are husband and wife off the scene, they produce a "unique" sound according to Rack-Lo. There will be an album from the duo sometime soon, and we have a little 'aaahhh' factor when Rack-Lo says about his relationship, "We're partners in everything we do."
So, we have the solo artist, the duet group style with his wife, and also Spit Squodd. So, who are they? "Thirstin Howl III, Rack-Lo, Master Fool, Richie Balance, Unique London, El Tysheik, B. Born the founding members of Spit Sqoudd." These were the guys who were there from the beginning.
Don't think this interview is over yet, we've only just begun! So, there's the musical side of Rack-Lo's career and this has spilled over into him making some music for the ESPN Commercial Series, "Skill Or Be Skilled," and also for three WNBA commercials. This opportunity came along because Thirstin Howl III (who was originally slated to do the work) was away doing MTV's Lyricist Lounge and Rack-Lo stepped up to fill in for him. The opportunity gave Rack-Lo visibility in the sports market and future plans in this area include being on the sound track Havoc & Mayhem with the track "Remember The Times" featuring Lo-Wife. [The track hit stores in early 2002.]
Then there's the business side to Rack-Lo. He handles the business affairs for the companies Spit Factory and Skillionaire Enterprises Inc. Check out www.spitfactoryonline.com for more information on the other lines of business. He says he is also "moving into the production side, slowly."
Rack-Lo has worked with a wealth of producers and artists such as those in the Spit Sqoudd, his wife, DJ PF Cuttin, DJ Twins, Brooklyn Academy, Mr Noise and Willtell. He is currently signed to Skillionaire Enterprises Inc., which is the record label all the Spit Squodd are signed to. It was founded by Thirstin Howl III.
So, does juggling being an artist and dealing with the two business lines ever get hard for Rack-Lo? His take is, "It's quite easy. The music is not just part of my life, but my wife's and my son. We're all involved."
In between all this, there is also finding the time to do performances and Rack-Lo has done some of those as well. They recently performed in Boston to a sold-out venue and had a great response. They will be hitting Arizona, Philadelphia, Rhode Island and Canada in the near future.
Some of Rack-Lo's favourite artists include Lox, Common, KRS One, Wu-Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, Gangstarr, Freddie Fox and MOP.
Those young rappers out there looking to get into the business need to take heed of some words of advice from someone as multi-skilled as Rack-Lo. He says, "Know your worth, value and learn and understand the dynamics of the music business. Feed yourself knowledge and apply it to your course of action."
Advice such as this comes from someone who still feels he has a lot of "accomplishing to do." Rack-Lo says, "What I have accomplished on an independent is nothing compared to my value, skill and know-how."
He has a lot going on for the future such as the new album, two books, a documentary, a follow-up story for "The Source Magazine" and more! When does he have time to sleep?! Whatever the case, Rack-Lo and the rest of the Spit Factory/Skillionaire Enterprises Inc. look set to be here to stay. As Rack-Lo put it, "I juts try to continue adding on and enriching the (Hip Hop) culture from my standpoint." Tell us something we don't know.
Make sure you keep tabs on Rack-Lo as the saga continues at www.spitfactoryonline.com. The site is complete with details on all the Spit Sqoudd and if you would like to make a booking you can either check the site, call the Spit Factory on 718-251-5541 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.