Formed two years ago, D4L has seemingly appeared out of nowhere to become one of the hottest, most innovative groups to spring forth from the dirty concrete of the ATL.
All representing different Atlanta projects, Fa-bo, Mook-B, Stoney and Shawty Lo all traded in their street hustles to pursue a new kind of hustle: music. 'D4L means down for life,' explains Shawty Lo, who put up his own money to launch the group. 'And that means everything to me. When I put it all together I wanted it to be big. I was doing my thing in the streets illegally. I went and got a couple of guys that I knew had been working for years trying to break into the music business. I put my dollars behind them and put my street flavor to it and that's what made it happen.'
And two years later, D4L is an 'overnight success.'
The noise first started with the crazy, catchy 'Betcha Can't Do It Like Me' and spilled over into their naughty follow-up smash 'Laffy Taffy,' a song that took radio by storm, garnering thousands of spins and placing D4L on the music industry's radar.
But it was more than radio spins and catchy lyrics that attracted the industry to this foursome. There's a gritty, down-to-earth charm about D4L that reminds you of your favorite boys in the 'hood. There's a realness about them that cannot be denied and there's a chemistry that flows through the group like an electric current – one that let's you know that these guys are true to their name. 'We all come from different sets of projects in Atlanta,' says Stoney. 'We've been around each other for like four or five years.'
Adds Mook-B, 'All of us come from the streets. We really, really lived the street life. I've been rapping for a minute. I used to go around telling people 'let's do the rap thing.' It took Lo to get in it and learn about it to make it happen. It took him and all of us deciding to let go of what we were doing and dedicate our lives to this. We knew that with the lives we were living back then we wouldn't be able to take care of our kids because we'd either be dead or in jail.'
Fabo says the beauty of D4L is that they have learned how to work together as a unit -- precise and synchronized like a well-oiled machine. 'Each one of them cats have two or three personalities,' he contends. 'It's like a car. There's a body, there's an engine. You have to put it all together. It's teamwork. That's what we had to learn.
Once they learned that lesson, the four men took a leap of faith and landed on their feet, right in the middle of Atlanta's ever-growing rap music scene and eventually ended up at the front door of Dee Money Entertainment/Hitt Afta Hitt Management, an on-the-come-up indie label and management company that was quickly carving out a niche with acts like Crime Mob, Playa Fly and female rapper Mac Bre-Z. Shawty Lo and his newly-formed D4L Records forged a partnership with Dee Money's Walden Davis and Hitt Afta Hitt's Johnnie Cabbell and the noise increased by a few more decibels.
D4L's debut cd, D4L: DOWN FOR LIFE, released jointly by Dee Money and Asylum Records, is a collection of songs created in the image of Shawty Lo, Stoney, Fabo and Mook-B. It's that authentic west side Atlanta sound that they pioneered. 'The music is unbelievable,' says Stoney. 'Together we create a sound that is unheard of. A lot of folks are trying to imitate our sound but it's impossible.'
Fabo agrees. 'We have a new sound, a new soul; music for your mama, your grandmama, neighbors, kids; music everybody loves. Originality sells. We doin' what we feel. It's nothing made up about it. It ain't no gimmick.'
With production work handled mostly by their own clique, D4L serves up a tray of crispy, southern-flavored tracks ('Game Owe Me,' 'Do It Like Me Baby,' and 'Diggin' Me') that place them in a musical category all their own.
D4L has been through the fire to stand where they are today. 'God's got his hands on this project,' says Mook-B. 'It is hard to get four guys from the projects who had no guidance except in this street hustling to get to where we are. I constantly pray on this. Even before we touch the mic we pray. All of us have good hearts. We came together as a unit. If we can do it, anybody can do it.'