93.9 WKYS is embracing local talent, and every Monday, we will prominently feature a local artist on the WKYS website.
If you would like to be featured on 93.9 WKYS New Music Monday please submit your song in an MP3 format, your photo, your bio and contact information to our DMV’s OWN page and every Monday we will feature a deserving local artist.
This week’s featured artist is Laelo.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as an artist thus far?
I think I’ve battled with some of the same issues a lot of independent or underground artists face – like putting together a dope project and not having a serious budget to market it. But, the fact that I do so much with so little means a lot to me. I put out two albums and nine music videos in 2011. The grind and sacrifices have built my character and makes me appreciate what I’ve accomplished 10 times more. Also the politics in the music business are crazy. It’s so much about who you know and what you can do for someone else. It’s not solely about artists making great records anymore. You have to kiss ass and give a lot of fake smiles to get love in DC. It’s well documented that Laelo does not kiss anyone’s ass and does not do the politics. So it’s been somewhat of a challenge. I don’t let it bother me though. I understand that this is a business and most people are looking out for self first. I just really choose to focus on and appreciate the people who have thought of me enough to help me out along my journey. It’s a lot of people too. At this point I think surrounding myself with the right people is my biggest challenge currently. I’ve been independent for so long I have trouble delegating things to other people. I want to do everything myself. That’s pretty much impossible when you’re trying to do what I’m doing at the HD Society. We have so much going on that it’s hard for me to be 100% involved with everything. But being the captain of the ship I have to make sure enough attention is paid to everything that represents our brand.
How did you develop your brand, “The High Definition Society” and what does it represent for you?
I was basically trying to come up with a way to brand myself back in 2010. I was getting ready to release my first project in over three years, and I wanted to make an impact globally not just locally. I wanted to start a movement. I understand at this point how cliché that word is, but I felt The HD Society really had the potential to be the definition of a truly dope grassroots movement, and I haven’t been proven wrong as of yet. My goal was to come up with something that represented me and my friends’ lifestyle and state of mind. People see the marijuana leaf in our logo and think that this movement is all about getting high all day, which is not true. That’s only part of it. Haha! We heavily support the marijuana culture because we truly believe that stoners have a mental likeness to true Lifers when it comes to the love aspect of what we are. But you don’t have to be a stoner or a pothead to enjoy the music or represent what we represent. The “HD Life” is something everyone should be living.
“Lifers” is a term that I came up with to identify my real fans and affiliates. The HD Life is based on the concept of seeing life with a clear view and not letting it be clouded by things like hate, judgment, or social expectations. Life is all about attaining happiness for you and your family. That’s what Lifers focus on. We don’t worry about what the next man has going on because we are ultimately focused on what we are doing. Lifers show love to those who show love. Lifers are the people who make their own paths in life and are determined to reach the light at the end of said path by giving everything in themselves to that mission. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Since 2010 the HD Life movement has grown steadily larger. People all over the world are hash-tagging our slang and phrases. The concept of Living life in High Definition was made popular by me and my team. Now Jermaine Dupri has been seen using the term “Lifers” on twitter and we all know the name of track 2 on Rozay’s latest mix tape. I feel like a concept I started is growing very quickly and I’m extremely proud of that. Even though the previously mentioned artists don’t know me directly, they have heard or seen my trademarked phrases so I must have done something right.
How does your newest project, Life in High Definition, differ from some of your older projects?
It differs in almost every possible way, with the exception of the fact that it’s just me telling my story and no one else’s. My previous projects were a lot darker and a lot less fun. I was a lot more focused on the negative things that we’re happening around me and to me during those times. I like to think that my music is a direct reflection of my life. You are literally listening to what I’m feeling, thinking or doing at the moment when you get something new from me. The thing with life is, there will always be negative forces but we give them more power by focusing our energy on them. It took some time and maturity for me to learn that I guess, but it’s definitely allowed me to be free as an artist. When I was writing this album I wanted to make people feel good. I wanted to relate to the people I know and people who are like-minded. Being angry on records or in life takes a lot of energy and as I get older I realize I just don’t have that much energy to dedicate to it, so I focus on the positive. If you listen to “Fu** the World” then “Life in HD” back to back you will hear the difference. Both albums came out in the same year. Fu** the World was four years of struggle, hardships and me trying to figure out what my life was going to be, and you can hear it in the production and rhymes. In Life in HD, I have a clearer view of what I want my life to be. And I’m on that path, so the songs are more focused on the fun things I do and the positive things I want to put energy towards. I want to show people a little more of that side of me now. As we Lifers say, Life may be good, but the HD Life is Great!
2011 was a nice year for you doing SXSW and getting some sponsorships. What would you say was your best moment of 2011?
Yea I had an ok 2011. I also got to rock at the A3C and CMJ Music Festivals, so that was a great look. I had a lot of fun on the West Coast doing a short promo tour for the album. That definitely helped spread the movement even further. But, I would have to say the highlight of my 2011 was definitely the five days I spent in Austin, TX for SXSW. I met and introduced so many people to the HD Life brand. That experience is one of the biggest reasons I now have the presence in the scene that I do. While at the High Times Magazine Doobie Awards, I met a rep for Raw Rolling Papers, the company who now sponsors me, as well as the magazine’s editor-in-chief Danny Danko. I was siced. I burned it down with some of my favorite artists and peers. That’s also where I met Smoke Dza and Fiend who both ended up gracing my new project with dope verses. All in all SXSW was just a dope overall experience and I was mad at myself for not attending previous years.
What do you have planned for 2012? What are some things you’d like to accomplish?
Touring!! That’s why I do this. I want to perform in places I’ve never been before. I want to touch the fans that are helping spread the word about Laelo and the HD Society. I want to help introduce the world to a few artists that I work with like Awthentik and Blak King. Both supremely talented emcees that make me keep my skills sharp at all times. I’m also trying to get this merchandise line fully in motion by May. The High Def Apparel line became pretty popular in 2011 and the demand quickly out grew what we were prepared to match up until recently. So definitely one of our main focuses of 2012 is to get all the Lifers around the world geared up so they can represent wherever they go.
How do you spend your time when you’re not doing music?
It’s rare that I’m not doing something that involves music or the business, but I like regular stuff like going to the movies and playing my Xbox with the homies. I’m a big card player too. At one point I was playing poker four to five nights a week. Now, I don’t have the time but I still play as regularly as I can. I also love to spend my free time testing different strands of cannabis. That’s my favorite pastime for sure. Lol. #HDlife
You can get at Laelo at @LaeloSmokesGood