Craig “KLC” Lawson
Craig "KLC" Lawson
Craig "KLC" Lawson (born July 15, 1969), is a rap music producer from the Third Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana. He found fame as a member of No Limit Records' in-house production team, Beats by the Pound. Since leaving the label, he has been a member of the Medicine Men, consisting of much of the same producers as the original Beats by the Pound, as well as some new talent. Along with Mannie Fresh, KLC is arguably one of the most important producers in New Orleans Rap and in Southern Rap. Juelz Santana's appearance on Paul Wall's "I'm Real, What Are You?" is one of the few occasions a New York rapper appeared on a KLC-produced track. KLC has worked with numerous recording artists and is credited for having discovered several prominent rappers, including Fiend, Mystikal and Soulja Slim. Recently, Rakim worked with KLC on a new track in his studios in Baton Rouge. He has also been quoted as saying he is poised to release a new project titled "Alarm Clock: Better Late Than Never."
KLC grew up in the Melpomene Projects in New Orleans. His father played saxophone and Lawson followed in his musical footsteps, earning the nickname "The Drum Major" even before joining the Green Middle School marching band. Lawson became fascinated by the cadences of a marching band's snare - the sound would later influence his production style. He moved with family members to a house in Uptown New Orleans on Parkway (the street would later be honored in the name of his first professional musical venture - Parkway Pumpin' Records). In high school, KLC got into breakdancing, one of his rivals being Michael "Mystikal Mike" Tyler. Tyler, aka Mystikal, would ultimately become a lifelong music associate.
After graduating high school, KLC and longtime friend Dartanian "MC Dart" Stovall started recording in a makeshift studio in the basement of KLC's home. Both had full-time, hourly jobs and one day decided to quit their jobs and devote their time to making music. They pooled their last paychecks and completed their first cassette. From these modest means, the teens established Parkway Pumpin' Records.
Although many independent labels appeared in the wake of New Orleans's 1991 bounce explosion, Parkway Pumpin', founded by KLC and Dart, was one of the first. It was also one of the most influential stables of talent, although the limited finances of the indie label resulted in precious few recordings. When Master P founded No Limit Records in Richmond, California and moved the label to New Orleans, most of the original roster (aside from Master P's relatives) were taken directly from the Parkway label roster.
Most of Parkway's associates never recorded with the label. Artists like Fiend, Mac (as Lil Mac The Lyrical Midget), Mystikal Mike (as Mystikal), Mr. Serv-On and Da Hound (Da Gert Town Hounds/Full Blooded) all went on to record with No Limit Records without having anything released in their time at Parkway Pumpin'. Only one future No Limit Soldier recorded on Parkway. Magnolia (Soulja) Slim recorded his sole Parkway Pumpin' release in '94, "Soulja Fa Lyfe."
The first act to record on Parkway Pumpin' was 39 Posse, a trio composed of Derrick "Shack" Mushatt, KLC and Dart. 39 Posse released their debut single, "Clockin' / Pumped in Power," in 1991. In 1993, 39 Posse dropped their debut full-length, "39 Automatic". Songs like "Ask Them Hoes," showed KLC's sound to be immediately distinguishable from other producers with his use of deep, sustained bass and martial snares. "Stuntin' Stars," "Bitch I'm Dart" and "Pass the Snake" show the beginnings of the later signature sounds of Beats By the Pound -produced tracks, with their hard beats and bluesy piano. Later that same year, Parkway released Lil Elt & DJ Tee's "Get the Gat" and "Get The Gat Gemix".
On Parkway Pumpin' there were no contracts, and artists including KLC himself often simultaneously worked at other labels. In 1994, KLC played keyboards and 39 Posse produced EXD's No Elevation for In the House Records. Mystikal (now minus the "Mike") recorded his debut album with Big Boy Records, where KLC also produced a track for veteran New Orleans rapper Sporty T. In 1995, Magnolia Slim recorded The Dark Side EP (produced by KLC and featuring 6 Shot) at Hype Enough. Fiend followed Mystikal to Big Boy Records and recorded his debut album on that label.
Once Master P arrived in New Orleans, he brought Beats by the Pound on board, most notably, KLC, who as the lead producer of the team. Their combined production capacity (churning out hundreds of tracks over the course of their stint with the label) and signature sound transformed No Limit Records from a little-heard west coast label into a southern powerhouse that sold over 50 million units. Beginning in 1998 through 1999, alleging across the board unfair business practices, majority of the roster left No Limit Records, including Mystikal and majority of the Beats by the Pound production team, including KLC.
After leaving No Limit Records, KLC, along with fellow producers Mo B. Dick, Craig B and Odell, formed production team of The Medicine Men. The team operates under the company name Overdose Entertainment. As a member of The Medicine Men, KLC continued to produce no only for former No Limit Records labelmates such as Fiend and Mystikal, but other rap stars such as T.I. and Ludacris.
From 1988 to present, KLC is credited (solo and with other Medicine Men team members) on close to 300 studio recordings covering over 100 studio albums. Lawson's RIAA accolades include eighteen gold albums, twelve platinum albums, four double-platinum albums, two triple-platinum albums, and one quadruple-platinum album as well as two gold singles, two platinum singles and one double-platinum single. Lawson has two Grammy nominations, both at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Rap Album (Word of Mouf by Ludacris and Tarantula by Mystikal) and two BMI Awards - one for the hit single Move Bitch (by Ludacris) and one for the associated album Word of Mouf.
His discography not only includes dozens of track for No Limit artists, but other popular southern and west coast rappers including Mack 10, 5th Ward Weebie, Ludacris, Juvenile, David Banner, B.G., T.I., Trina, Paul Wall, Bun B, and Scarface.