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Swimming with sharks: a Q&A with Lo Thraxx 

The Little Rock rapper is one of the city's most consistent and adaptable voices.

ROYALE WIT CHEESE: Little Rock rapper Lo Thraxx has emerged as one of the state's most exciting young artists.
  • ROYALE WIT CHEESE: Little Rock rapper Lo Thraxx has emerged as one of the state's most exciting young artists.

Lo Thraxx, the rapper and Little Rock native born Marlo Griffin, has been building up his name for the past five or six years, becoming one of the city's most consistent and adaptable voices. This past spring, he dropped a 14-track project called "Shark-ansas." The cover bears the image of a hammerhead shark in the driver's seat of an older model Chevelle SS, and the Soundcloud page offers an explanation of the title: "$harkansa$ is a project from the feeling of this game being similar to swimming in water with Sharks. Everybody is trying to eat but only few make it to the top of the water."

The record echoes that competitive sentiment with slick and varied production, proof that Thraxx is capable of putting out a real LP. Looking at the diverse lineup of features and production credits — the tape features rappers Curtis Williams, Raz Fresco, Doeman and Roosh Williams, with production by Fresco Grey, Trakksounds and others — it's evident the record is the product of years of travel and Internet networking; Thraxx's collaborators hail from Houston, Atlanta, Toronto, Memphis and Little Rock. Thraxx, like many ambitious regional rappers, must have to get out of town to forge solid connections like this.

Do you go back and forth between Atlanta or Los Angeles a lot?

Actually, lately I've been going back and forth to New York about once a month, linking with producers and management folks out there.

Do you think they have an appreciation for Southern rap in NYC?

I think they respect me and my lyrical abilities. I have a lot more work to put in out there right now, but it's always cool running into people at events that are familiar with my music and have been listening for years. I think that's dope.

Do they consider you "Southern" there, and do you consider yourself to be that?

Of course I hold it down for the South. They look at me as the young Southern conscious. I embrace it! I want to inform the youth on what's going on. I wanna be that big bro.

There's a lot of variety in your sound. It's tough to pin down — what do you credit that to?

I try to play both sides. I want to be right on that line where it's not mainstream or underground — just good enough to be both. I like letting producers do their own thing, make their art while I make my art. I enjoy getting new sounds from different producers.

Lo Thraxx — what's the name mean?

My name is Marlo. All my people call me Lo, you know? And I started rapping when anthrax hit the U.S. That one big time early 2000s with the post office. I thought Thraxx fit my attitude — I felt like I was lethal with the lyrics.

What's next for you?

I'm working on an album. I been doing too many mixtapes. Also working on setting up a college tour, planning on hitting SXSW and [Atlanta's annual hip-hop conference] A3C.

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