July 15, 2008

For Ms. Simmons, third place was just the beginning

Not many people can say someone freestyle-rapped for them in the middle of an otherwise quiet coffee shop, and well, oh, that someone was a chick. 

Baby Loc, a Louisville female rapper, has no interest in trading her dreads, baggy clothes and tattoos for anything that shows a little more skin. She’s a “tomboy hustler,” a cute one even, but she ain’t in it for looking sexy. It just isn’t her style. But she is a lyrical artist who can lay down a verse or two on the spot without the slightest blink or giggle, and it’s been that way all along. 

Real name Michelle Simmons, Baby Loc has been rapping since she was barely in middle school. Growing up in the Newburg area in Southwest Louisville, she learned to rap hanging out with the boys in her neighborhood.

“They’d be beat-boxing and rapping at the same time and I was like, ‘I can do that,’” she says. “And I could do it good, like the boys, and that was encouragement right there.”

She competed in her first rap contest at age 11, at a neighborhood festival called Newburg Day, and took third place. She started recording at the age of 19, and says she received nothing but positive feedback, which made her want to keep going. Since then she has released three albums, rapping about what’s on her mind and issues she feels are important. 

“I wanted to talk about what’s really going on, what I really did, didn’t do, couldn’t do, wanted to do,” she says. “I wanted people to see how a female can really get it on, lyrically.”

But no matter what anyone “suggests” she should change about her appearance, she says she’s strictly interested in the lyrical poetry that goes into a rap song and being able to hold a crowd down with her creativity, not by how sexually alluring she is. That’s not how she wants her fans to remember her.

“I want people to remember Loc like, ‘Man, that girl can spit,’” she says. 

She also hopes that she can inspire other female rappers. She’s interested in eliminating the stereotypical gender roles of the hip-hop world, where the men are tough and the women are sexy. 

“You can be you,” she says. “For me to be happy in what I’m doing, then I’ve got to do me.”

Baby Loc is Baby Loc because of one small gesture made by her late stepbrother, who committed suicide six years ago. He was known as King Loc, or Big Loc. Three days before he died, he did something for his stepsister that she clings to, always.

 “He was standing in the front yard of his mom’s house, and he had this black bandanna on his head,” Loc recalls. “And he took it off, and put it on me and says, ‘You’re Baby Loc. That’s who you are.’ And I just kept it. I run with it; I hope I don’t ever have to change that.” 

Bubbling over with enthusiasm, Baby Loc says it’s time for someone like her.

“It’s gonna be a shock, it’s gonna be a new look,” she says. “And I’m ready. I’m gonna stay on top.” 

Don’t hesitate to ask her to lay one down — she just might do it for you, like she did in the middle of Heine Brothers during our interview a few weeks ago:

She put me on the spot like she don’t know Loc hot. They can pick me up and let me go but I still won’t drop. I’m rappin’ in a computer, you can see the microphone, I do it on my own. I’m-a get it on my own, except the dreads, big pants, that’s what it is. But know one thing: On the mic, I’m a whiz. Been doin’ it since a kid, I’m about my biz, you can’t stop me, and that’s just how it is.”

Find Baby Loc at myspace.com/babylocone.