beyonce-shawty-lo

During her “Formation” tour stop in Atlanta, Beyoncé took a moment to pay tribute to Shawty Lo. While singing her hit “Diva,” Beyoncé danced to Shawty Lo’s “Dey Know.” The entire Georgia Dome erupted as she paid homage to the Atlanta rapper who recently died after being involved in a car accident. But it was more than a tribute to Shawty Lo. It was music’s biggest star taking a moment to recognize an artist whose life was initially saved by the art itself.

To understand the life of Shawty Lo, you would need to understand the feeling of growing up in the Bowen Homes housing projects located in an area of Atlanta formerly known as Bankhead. According to City-Data, more than 45 percent of the residents of Bankhead live below the poverty level, a rate that doubles the average for the city of Atlanta. Born to a mother who battled drug addiction, Shawty Lo was raised by his grandmother who died when he was 17. He basically raised himself and never believed that he would live past the age of 21.

But the beauty of music is that it can change circumstances in more ways than one. While Beyoncé was in Houston spending hours honing her singing and dancing skills as a teenager, Shawty Lo found himself on the streets of Bankhead and music became his greatest tool for survival.

Shawty Lo never aimed to be the biggest artist in rap. But it was more important for him to be the biggest rapper from Bankhead. Because he knew that if he could make it out of Bankhead, it would serve as a glimmer of hope for those who felt trapped by the pervasive destitution.

Beyoncé and Shawty Lo represent two completely different spectrums of Black music. One is a megastar who is the most significant artist of this generation. The other is a rapper who served as a leading voice for Atlanta’s snap and trap music scenes.

But when Beyoncé decided to dance to Shawty Lo’s “Dey Know,” they were connected in that moment. If Shawty Lo can inspire the world’s most renowned artist, there is another kid from Bankhead who can do the same and, possibly, even more.

A.R. Shaw

A.R. Shaw is an author and journalist who documents culture, politics, and entertainment. He has covered The Obama White House, the summer Olympics in London, and currently serves as Lifestyle Editor for Rolling Out magazine. Follow his journey on Twitter @arshaw and Instagram @arshaw23.

  • nosey rosy

    WHAT DA FUK.. RIP MR LOW …… no one included him in hip hop honor hip hop hall of fame and rapper who have made it like atlanta own Ti and ANDRE 3000 made no homage TO SHAWTY WHO PUT ATL RAP SCENE ON THE MAP WHERE IS THE RESPECT??? .THAT THE reason beyonce husband weighted in .. using beyonce who would not have gave a dam … im sick of people celebrating dead people and claiming how much a pioneer they are . reason female rappers whom are legends did their own show to honor left eye queen latifah , lil kim eve and others .. even tupac got no HONOR UNTIL DEATH .. BLACKs NEED TO DO BETTER .. lil wayne will be 66 before anyone honor him and i predict he want live to see 40 cause he is so wreckless .. master pee is even a legend his brother cee murder and silk and YOUNG BUCK!!! whom is a legend in his own right
    i really dont remember shawty low but he seem like a local atlanta base rapper whom was overlooked on A MASS SCALE JUST LIKE TECH NINE from kansas city is more creative and a pioneer rapper who out rank tupac lyricly but many dont even know TECH NINE MUSIC . SAD

    • James Neal

      Actually T.I. did say something about him on twitter and Instagram you might wanna go check.

    • Dondriques Harling

      Where you live partna. You don’t know what the hell you talking about. Shawty Lo didn’t pave no way for Andre or Tip. Shawty was a real Dope Kingpin go read up on it. Get yo facts right man He didn’t put Atlanta on the Map. Outkast,Goodie Mob,Youngbloodz,and T.I. put the A on the map. No Disrespect to Lo cuz I have chilled with him personally.