Hanging Out With Skee-Lo, Who's Now Kind of a Baller
[Editor's note: Soon-to-be-award-winning gonzo music journalist Danielle Bacher prowls the late late night scene for West Coast Sound. For this installment, she hit the town with rapper Skee-Lo, who wishes he was a little bit taller.]
Danielle Bacher Skee-Lo
11:00 p.m.: Skee-Lo (real name: Antoine Roundtree) sits next to his wife on a couch and takes a sip of water from a plastic Bacardi cup. He wraps his arm around the back of her neck, displaying a silver wedding band on his ring finger. "For those who try to say I'm a one-hit wonder, they're wrong," he maintains. "My album I Wish was nominated for a Grammy against artists like Tupac and Biggie Smalls. I love the fact that I'm an underdog."
11:02 p.m.: I throw a burgundy pillow out of the way and slide in next to him inside the VIP lounge at The Game Sports Bar on W. Manchester Ave. near LAX, where he's performing tonight. He runs his fingers along his shaved head and adjusts his long-sleeved flannel shirt. While he's fidgeting with his apparel, his wife grabs his left arm with her hand. She's dark-skinned with long black hair and wears shiny lip gloss. She's got on a sleeveless black shirt with a long, striped skirt running down to the floor.
Danielle Bacher Skee-Lo and his wife
11:03 p.m.: As Skee-Lo continues telling me about why he's underrated and underappreciated, I accidentally knock a half-eaten chicken wing onto the wooden floor. I pick it up with a dirty napkin.
11:04 p.m.: "What people don't understand about me is that I'm a musician. I've been selling that album [I Wish] for centuries. I never had to drop another record. Why would I mess up something perfect?" He waits a beat and continues: "I'm never going to let someone make parameters for the music my ancestors created. For the grace of God, why would I ever do that? I believe I can do anything I want to do. And I do it."
11:05 p.m.: It's readily apparent that he's defensive about his post-"I Wish" career, but he's also proud that, after 12 years, he's back in the game. Late last year, he released his album Fresh Ideas digitally under his own label SkeeLo Musik. This past month, he made the physical version available for purchase. Toyota's Rav4 "Wish Granted" Super Bowl ad also featured the self-deprecating 1995 hit and racked up millions of views online.
11:10 p.m.: Now, he enjoys running his own label and allowing other musicians to be heard. He's also working on new material and making videos for his songs from Fresh Ideas. "The album is new music, sound and attitude. It's a new business. I looked at hip-hop present, past and future. It's stuff you haven't heard, ideas you haven't heard. I changed my style and flow. Every verse on this album is ridiculous. It's spiritual for me. You haven't heard music this pure in a long time, since the '90s. I rap from the soul."
11:25 p.m.: Skee-Lo doesn't seem bitter that his former record label Sunshine Entertainment took most of the profits from "I Wish." He doesn't seem bitter that he basically retired after that album, which he produced himself in his bedroom in Los Angeles. He does, however, seem bitter that the music industry doesn't recognize REAL talent. "No one would give me a record deal back then. I had rejection letters from every major record label. I saved those rejection letters and hung them on my wall. They don't know shit."