Lo Stays Gullah out the Bandoe

Rising Charleston, South Carolina artist Lo Bandoe is making his own way while staying connected to his Gullah-Geechee roots

Coming from the bando to owning all his spots, LoBandoe has been grinding his ass off from the jump. He was born in Charleston, South Carolina twenty-six years ago, into the Gullah-Geechee community in James Island. Little did Lo know at the time, the culture that he would come up within and would one day count him among its most ardent ambassador. For those who don’t know, the Gullah-Geechee are descendants of enslaved African people who were snatched to be put to work on the islands just off the coast of South Carolina. Not only did they maintain their connection to their homeland through food and art, the Geechee even created their own unique creole-language that exists solely within their community. They stood alone, standing throughout time as their communities grew and evolved while maintaining their ties to roots. For Lo, the realization of how important the culture was didn’t become clear until he began traveling, as everywhere he went there were people asking him what the fuck he was saying.

LoBandoe’s life started out on the low, going straight from the womb to foster care when his mom decided to give him up. It wasn’t long after that that a heart attack made any idea of a future reunion out of the question. Lo was eventually taken in by an aunt who lived in the community, and off he and his brother went in search of a warm-loving family they could call their own. It wasn’t long though before Lo found himself on the receiving end of intense physical abuse that would leave scars crisscrossing up and down his arms. He did his best to hide them but the school he was at quickly put two and two together and before he knew it, Lo was back in foster care within 72 hours of the discovery. Although the faults outweighed the positives, Lo’s biological family was able to provide him one thing, a deep love of hip-hop. His grandmother would have Tupac in constant rotation, and before he could attend kindergarten, Tupac had become Lo’s favorite rapper as well. When Lo moved in with his new foster family at the age of 6, he found a place that would eventually become home and for the first time create some sort of structure within his life. For six years he stayed with the family as a foster child, spending hour after hour consuming music and posted on the couch with the remote locked on BET, drowning out the sounds of demons running around his cerebellum. “Watching BET was a coping skill for me then”, Lo reminisced, “During that time music was everything”. Beyond giving him a bed to call his own, Lo’s foster family gave him his first opportunities to test his musical chops through the choir of the church they attended. He was known throughout his community as the kid who wanted to be a rapper someday, spending day after day finding people he could rap to all day long. If Lo found out you had a studio, it was game over, he was going to pull up and wasn’t leaving until he could record. Bring em in, get em out, bring a new one in, that was the cycle of Lo’s life.

Music wasn’t the only force taking control of Lo’s life. The trials and tribulations that he had faced throughout his childhood began seeping through into his behavior, leading to his first arrest at the age of 14. The arrest was the beginning of a period in Lo’s life defined by imprisonment, spending the ages of fifteen to eighteen without his freedom. It was also when he began recording, the one bright spot through the period. Much of this was spent in a group home, but when he turned 18 Lo found himself without a home having reached the age limit, and was soon on the streets doing whatever it took to get by. He had no connection with his family as they were all out of the system and the ones who were never in the system had gotten out of there. Lo took to staying in abandoned houses, rotating between different spots every couple of weeks or if someone discovered that he was staying there. His claim to the property was simple, some clothes and whatever drugs he was involved with at the time were Lo’s version of planting a flag. It took a little bit for anyone to find out what Lo was up to, and when they did they immediately bestowed the name “Bando” upon him. This was before Migos blew the doors off with the song so the positive connotations were beyond lacking, at least nationally. At first Lo burned on the inside every time someone called him “Bando”, a heavy, swirling rush of emotions with the feeling of being disrespected leading the charge. In the name, however, Lo eventually found a sense of pride in himself. He wouldn’t allow the circumstances of his childhood to determine his life, fuck what anyone said, soon enough he knew that he would find himself living in whatever housing he wanted.

Throughout all of this, music was Lo’s north star, guiding him through the dark nights and even longer days. There wasn’t a day that would go by without him rapping or making moves to grow his fan base, and it has begun paying off beautifully. Lo isn’t a writer in the studio, and maybe that makes sense given the amount of on the fly thinking his life has required simply to survive. It’s a good thing that his go to engineer, Daniel Hill, is in-tune with whatever mood Lo finds himself in and quickly can throw on a beat that will let Lo speak through his life. Lo has been performing live for a little while now, having stepped on stages across the United States but his view stretches across the Atlantic where he soon hopes to give some love back to his growing international fanbase. He has been able to work in some of the most respected studios across the United States, including Atlanta’s own Patchwerk Studios. Most importantly, Lo has been able to put himself into a position where he can provide the type of childhood for his two kids that was never in the picture for himself. The cherry on top will be the trip that Lo and his family take to Disney once everything is re-opened, and he can celebrate just how far he has come. What is also certain is that Lo’s journey is far from done. He will never be done pushing to make sure that he will forever remain out the bando. Make sure to check out all his music on streaming platforms, follow LoBandoe on social media and be ready when he decides to bust the gems out of the vault.

Find LoBandoe on social media:

Instagram: @Lobandoeofficial

Facebook: Lo Bandoe

Twitter: @lobandoe

Snapchat: osoliive

Jake Zinda

23 years old, from Wisconsin Hip-Hop Journalist @CMAG N.S.C.T.D.

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