The 2005 hip-hop recording S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M fro One.Be.Lo is a musical masterpiece. From the lyrics to the scope of the album you are blown away as the MC from Michigan takes you for a wild ride. This is one of my favorites of all time, and once you hear it you’ll understand why.
One.Be.Lo started out in hip-hop back in the nineties after spending some time in prison. Back then he was known as OneManArmy and had teamed up with his cellmate Senim Silla to form Binary Star. They are responsible for the all rap “Masters of the Universe” LP that was released in 2000 to the delight of hip hop lovers all over the world.
In 2005 OneManArmy was back on his own, and One.Be.Lo when he released S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M – or Sounds of Nahshid Originate Good Rhymes. And yes, from the moment the music starts, the good rhymes begin.
One.Be.Lo is a very smart man, and very frank in his beliefs. Even his album titles speak of an intelligence you don’t typically find in rap. An earlier record was titled F.E.T.U.S. and focused on the beginning of life and making your own destiny. This newer album followed in the same pattern, only going in depth to a person’s soul, the same way a real sonogram machine does. It takes careful thought and smarts above and beyond what you learn in the street to understand the workings of an ultrasound machine and tie it together so seamlessly with an earlier work. I would even venture to say that this shows an intelligence equal to, if not higher, than that ultrasound technician who went to school to learn how the machine works.
The album is rich in social issues, ranging from the feeling of losing a friend to senseless violence to the careless way in which the media portrays the world around us. His lyrics speak of a wisdom well beyond his years, and an education that he was only afforded by growing up in the street.
He even addresses his shady past in “The Future” and admits to his shortcomings as a kid disrespecting his mother and society as a whole. It’s not easy for a rapper to take responsibility for his actions, but One.Be.Lo has no qualms about sharing his shortcomings and showing us how to live a more righteous life.
You don’t get much real rap like this anymore. Today we are usually subjected to one of two extremes: watered down and weak to make it playable on the radio, or so shockingly full of hate, venom and swearing that you can’t get to the message. One.Be.Lo and his S.O.N.O.G.R.A.M fit very nicely in the middle, with a thoughtful lyrics and a beat that can’t be beat.