Lil' Rob / Lil Rob
Lil' Rob knows that many rap fans have a hard time relating to artists who constantly glorify hard-to-obtain material items. That’s why the legendary San Diego rapper chooses to remain rooted in reality. With a string of successful underground albums, from 1997’s “Crazy Life” to 1999/2000 Natural High/High Till I Die” Rob has become a favorite in Los Angeles, Phoenix and his native San Diego, largely because of his honest raps about everyday life.
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The gifted rhymer delivers another intoxicating batch of hits with his new and most potent album to date, “Lil Rob” on Upstairs Records. “I’m still the Rob from my other jams,” he explains. “My fans like me because they’re hearing someone that’s not talking about being a player, because I’m not. I’m not talking about bling-bling and rings, because I don’t. I’m talking about having low riders, because I do. I like to get a 12-pack and come back and kick back with my friends. I wearT-shirtswithLevis,Dickies. I’m just your regular homeboy.”
“Brought Up In A Small Neighborhood,” one of the most satisfying selections on “Lil Rob,” will have car enthusiasts from coast to coast saluting to Rob’s latest anthem. Rob became a car fanatic because of his cousin Albert from Los Angeles, who is the Vice President of the Lifestyles Car Club. Rob decided to turn his life-long fascination with cars into a song.
“It’s about my cars,” Rob says of the cut, “The first verse is about my ’63. The second verse is about my ’49 truck and the last verse is about my Cadillac. A lot of rappers rap about low riders and don’t even have one. I’m just rapping about my cars for real.”
Rob keeps the classic samples coming on “They Call Me Little Rob,” which incorporates The Cadillacs’ “Speedoo,” and “Street Days,” which uses Chuck Berry’s “School Days” as its foundation. Even though many rappers replay samples with live bands, Rob prefers to stick to the sample for that authentic sound.
“When people replay the oldies, it doesn’t give them that same flavor,” he explains. “It’s like a remake and it just doesn’t sound like the oldie. I like to make it sound like the oldie.”
Rob takes his music so seriously because it has become a liffelong passion. While in the third grade, he started breakdancing. With a DJ brother, a singing dad and a grandmother who also sang, Rob was surrounded by music. Although he enjoyed going to local parties, he started staying home in order to write raps.
Looking up to fellow Mexicans rhyme slingers Frost and Lighter Shade Of Brown, Rob decided to start rapping. Although he was just rapping for fun, some of his partners encouraged him to become serious at his craft.
“I would rap just to rap,” Rob recalls. “A couple of my homeboys heard it and said, ‘Let’s go to the studio and see what comes out.’ People started hearing it and liking it, hearing a little 16-year-old talk about the streets, which is something you didn’t hear back then. I kept it true to where I’m from.”
Rob’s entry to the rap world came on the 1992 single “Oh What A Night” b/w “Mexican Gangster.” Only 16 at the time, Rob simply was happy to have his music in the marketplace.
But Lil Rob’s buzz in San Diego soon became larger than life. He did a jam for a Group Car Club in San Diego and then recorded “Do My Thing.” Just as his star was shining bright, Rob was shot and forced out of the rap game for about two years.
While recovering, Lil Rob started writing again. His new raps led to 1997’s “Crazy Life,” his debut album that featured Rob rapping about everything from gangster topics to chicks to cruising to partying. By keeping his subject matter diverse, Rob set himself up to pursue any lyrical direction.
“I didn’t say that I was the baddest gangster on the planet and that nobody could touch me,” he says. “I left myself open to do whatever I want to do.”
Over the next several years, Rob would release a string of albums, many of which were bootlegged because of heavy demand. Without radio play, “Crazy Life” soundscanned at 60,000 while Natural High/High Till I Die sold 90,000. Some of his standout cuts included “Natural High,” which featured him rapping slow over a slow beat about smoking solo, “Wicky Wicked,” a song about people trying to stop him from succeeding, and “I Remember,” where he talked about growing up in San Diego.
This type of thematic diversity helped earned Rob legions of dedicated fans who appreciate his earnest approach to songwriting. “I’m not trying to be something I’m not,” Rob says. “I tell it like it is. With ‘Crazy Life,’ I got a little crazy. With ‘Natural High,’ I grew up a little bit. With this one, I’ve grown up even more. I’ve got more skills and I’m just the homeboy next door doing the same things that everyone else does.”
With a string of underground classics, a nation of fans, and a new deal with Upstairs Records to support him, Lil Rob is ready to build upon his already sizable fanbase with his most thorough release to date, “Lil Rob.” Rob knows that fans will appreciate his new sounds.
“I got a little more lyrical,” he says. “I’m a little more clever now. It’s definitely something better to bump.”
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