Most people know Khleo Thomas from his work on films like Walking Tall and Friday After Next, but ever since he released his first song, "Dig It," on the Holes soundtrack, Khleo has been steadily rising in the hip hop world, thanks to his talent and a few significant friendships along the way.
While filming Roll Bounce, for example, it was a co-star, Shad Moss, who offered him an opportunity that would take his music career to the next level.
"[Moss and I] became best of friends during Roll Bounce and he knew that I was doing music, so randomly one day he said, 'Come with me to this show,'" Khleo explained. "We were filming in Chicago, so I'm thinking, 'Cool I get to see him perform here.' Next thing I know, we're pulling up to a private jet hangar and we're on a plane to Jacksonville, Florida, where he's performing. He winds up bringing me out on stage and the fans went crazy."
After seeing the crowd response, Moss, then known as Bow Wow, decided to make Khleo a part of his whole tour.
"Next thing I know, we finished filming the movie and he calls me up and says, 'We're going on the 'Scream Tour.' I'm flying you down to Atlanta and then we're on to 32 arenas.'" Khleo recalled. "I got a chance to be Bow Wow's hype man at the height of what the 'Bow Wow Era' was. 32 arenas, two sold out shows at Madison Square Garden. It was a helluva learning experience. So B taught me a lot as far as when it comes to the stage and I'll never be able to repay him for those lessons."
Moss's audience boosted the "Got 5 On It" MC's confidence, but it was a couple of West Coast veterans who taught him how to adapt to his audience.
"I opened up for Snoop and Ice Cube on the How the West Was One Tour, and when you're at a show like that, it's gangstas in there. It's people that enjoy that gangsta music, so I realized I can't do my normal stuff. I have to switch it up," Khleo noted. His realization helped him capture the attention of Cube, another one of his former co-stars.
"I remember Ice Cube's son Oshea Jr. told his dad, 'You gotta come see what Khleo's doing.' So Cube comes out of his dressing room and he sees the whole arena with their hands up, and I remember thinking how good it felt to be able to pull that off 'cause I wanna prove that I can get on whatever stage with any crowd and put it down with the best of 'em," he added.
Khleo, who recently performed to a packed audience at the 2014 BET Experience, looks to drop his latest single, "Don't Catch Feelings," before returning to the road for the second leg of his Slick Living tour.
"This was my first tour that I put together and that I'm headlining," Khleo exclaimed. "We sold out San Francisco, sold out Austin, we sold out Balitmore, Washington, D.C., and I'm extending it some more. My film Victors' coming out as well and I think it's gonna be a helluva year for me."
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(Photo: Juan Carlos Olivera-Amaya/BET/Getty Images for BET)