Like many rappers, Jeaudi Gray loves weed so much, he dedicated a song to it.

“Do you love me Mary Jane?/Mary, will you marry me?/‘Cause she stayed by my side when I didn’t have nobody there for me,” he raps on his single “Mary Jane,” released in 2017.

Gray, who goes by the stage name Jody Lo, is a Winston-Salem rapper and founder of the Dope Plugs Music Group record label. On March 17, his mixtape Tru Story 2 will be released through the label. Gray founded the label in 2017 in an undercover effort to promote himself as an artist.

“I noticed most artists have a company behind them doing marketing work, so I figured I’d start my own company,” he says. “But I wanted to promote myself in an indirect way without people knowing it was me.” 

That’s because Gray says he believes the public tends to find artists more credible if there’s a marketing company promoting their work rather than the artist themselves. To gain listeners and fans, he’d create Spotify playlists and compilation mixtapes, carefully placing his own singles in the mix. Now, he’s gained enough of a following to overtly establish himself as the man behind the label.

“I don’t even try to hide it anymore now,” he says.

For now, Gray is the only artist who’s part of the label, but he actively scouts social media and reaches out to artists to attempt to sign talent.

Gray’s rap journey began at 8 years old when he wrote his first song. He knew he wanted to be a rapper after seeing the success of Lil’ Bow Wow, who released his first album at 13.

“If he’s a kid, and he can rap, I can, too,” Gray he told himself.

Gray also idolized rapper Ludacris, whose boisterous lyrics over beats accented with trumpets and animated music videos solidified him as one of the top Southern rappers of the early 2000s. Gray remembers having Ludacris albums on repeat, hoping to one day be as famous as him.

“It was Chicken-n-Beer or it might’ve been The Red Light [District], one of those two, for sure,” he says.

Gray draws inspiration from other Southern rappers like Boosie [BadAzz], Yo Gotti and Gucci Mane to describe the mentality of being an independent hustler — an artist not signed to a contract with a record label, yet one who wants the same props as those that are. Gray says he appreciates the way these artists executed their own marketing strategies and gained traction without the publicity and money a label can provide. In 2005, Gucci Mane saw success with the independent release of his album Trap House, a goal Gray aims to achieve, too.

On Tru Story 2, Gray addresses topics like love, fatherhood and entrepreneurship. In his song “Girl Dad,” Gray pays homage to his three daughters.

“Ain’t nothing more important/That’s because y’all mean the world to me/My life revolves around y’all and that’s how I want my world to be,” he raps over a beat emphasized with notes played on the electric guitar.

While the subject matter of Gray’s singles concentrates on his own life, Tru Story 2 covers such a range of topics that Gray hopes listeners will still be able to relate to his music.

“I just want them to enjoy it,” he says.

Jody Lo’s mixtape, Tru Story 2, will be released on March 17. Follow Jody Lo on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Listen to Jody Lo’s music on multiple platforms including YouTube, SoundCloud, Apple Music and Genius. Learn more about The Dope Plugs Music Group on Facebook.

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