Baltimore’s own Los — at 30 and with no official albums — has already experienced a rollercoaster of a rap career, and much of it has had to do with Diddy. He was part of the hip hop mogul’s competitive reality show Making the Band in 2002, making it all the way to the end only to opt out of actually joining the group at the last moment. He signed to Bad Boy in 2006 only to leave two years later without having released anything on the label.
In the meantime, Los has garnered a reputation as a strong freestyler and released several mixtapes (underground releases that are typically less hook-heavy and radio-oriented than albums), the latest of which, The Crown Ain’t Safe, is a good showcase of the Liberty Heights native’s stylistic range. The songs are packed with all the standard swagger and profanity, but lurking behind the old tropes is a flow with more character and nuance than you’d expect. Los keeps his delivery laid-back and warm, even as he jockeys between fast and slow rapping and sudden, syncopated rests, here and there playfully lingering on a line’s last syllable, and even as he delivers relentlessly self-aggrandizing lyrics. The free-to-download mixtape is also a good introduction to Baltimore’s brand of hip hop: included are several tracks with a strong Baltimore club influence — the song “2 vs. 1” being the clearest example.
Now Los has been welcomed back into the Bad Boy fold as part of Diddy’s “rebuilding” of the label. The 42-year-old CEO says he expects Los (and fellow recent signees Machine Gun Kelly, Red Cafe, and French Montana) to help Bad Boy regain some “youthful energy.” Los is certainly optimistic about his future with Bad Boy. He recently told allhiphop.com that he’s “a young billionaire in training.” Well, if he can stick with Diddy long enough this time to actually put a record out, there’s no reason Los shouldn’t blow up. But first up is a mixtape for his new, old label. No release date has been set.
Hot off the news of the signing, Los stopped by the LA Leakers radio show to record a 10-minute freestyle. If you can handle the profanity, the YouTube video of the session offers a chance to check out a spontaneous freestyle by someone regarded as a master of the form. The DJs constantly switch beats on the MC (some of which are from Bad Boy tracks), and he is rarely caught off-guard, often using the title of the original song to propel his verse forward.
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