Rapper talks family, love, his brand of rap

Rapper talks family, love, his brand of rap
NWA Democrat-Gazette

So how do a 20-something Filipino rapper — who goes by the name P-Lo — and a middle-aged Mid-Southern arts writer have a conversation?

Quite easily, as it turns out.

P-Lo — whose given name is Paulo Rodriguez — is one of the opening acts at the Arkansas Music Pavilion Aug. 11 with G-Eazy as the headliner. Yes, he was willing to do a phone interview, he told the AMP media relations folks, but he admitted at the end of the call that he had had no idea how it would go.

“It was good,” he said. “It was good.”

Yes, it was — because it was nothing like I expected either. P-Lo is articulate and thoughtful, voicing his respect for his family, who taught him to love music; explaining his roots in the Bay Area, where his brand of rap originated — called “hyphy,” he says it “derives from up-tempo funk” and is defined by its driving bass line; and musing on the idea that maybe he can spread love on this tour along with bass beats and a solid tenor voice.

“Love doesn’t come from hate,” he said. “Love comes from love. I feel like there are people who don’t understand how much we need more love everywhere. We’re all on this earth together.”

Growing up in an East Bay household where music was always present — his dad’s tastes ranged from Carlos Santana to Eric Clapton to the Beatles — P-Lo followed his brother Oliver — known as Kuya Beats — into rap and hip-hop.

“Being a little brother, I always wanted to do whatever my older brother did,” he said with laughter in his voice. “And my personality … I am really determined. Whatever I decide to do, I’m going to do it to the best of my ability. I’m going to master whatever I do.”

Like his brother, P-Lo started his career as a producer before moving to the stage. He started playing the West Coast first, co-founding the HBK Gang — also known as the Heartbreak Gang — a collective of producers, rappers and video directors, then went national last year in support of his “proper debut” album, “More Than Anything,” described as “a massive collection of club-ready tracks featuring cameos by G-Eazy, Kool John and E-40.”

Courtesy Photo
Rapper P-Lo — whose given name is Paulo Rodriguez — grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, where his brand of rap originated. Called “hyphy,” he says it “derives from up-tempo funk” and is defined by its driving bass line. “Hyphy” comes from “hyperactive.”

A San Francisco critic praised “More Than Anything” as “a diverse set of bangers,” and quoted P-Lo as saying, “I wanted it to show all the layers I have as a human. I’m a hyphy ball of energy, but some people think I’m all slaps. I want to show I can do more than that.”

With his second studio album, “Prime,” out in July; critics who now praise his “more developed melodies” and his “fearless … hooks”; and the Endless Summer Tour in full flower, P-Lo takes his position as a role model seriously.

“Being a minority has always been an uphill battle — always,” he said. “But the situation now has been ignited by our politicians. What has always been there just isn’t as hidden anymore. It’s not the fault of social media, but social media exposes more.

“Hip-hop is as big now as rock ‘n’ roll was in the ’80s and ’90s,” he says. “With any form of power comes great responsibility.”



With G-Eazy

WHEN — 6:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE — Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers

COST — $39.50 & up

INFO — 443-5600 or hbkplo.com

BONUS — Lil Uzi Vert, Ty Dolla $ign, P-Lo and Murda Beatz will also perform.

Categories: Music