The story of an un-likely prince
Daniel Cacho aka “Lova Boy” grew up on the impoverished streets of Dangriga in the eastern Caribbean nation of Belize.
Belonging to the Garifuna peoples, Black Caribs, Lova Boy is the son of a mother who came to America from Belize during the 80s in pursuit of the American dream and only to be distracted by drugs.
Like so many other children of his generation whose parents were either absent or addicted to drugs, Lova Boy credits his grandmother with giving him love, structure, and discipline.
A well-known traditional Punta singer, Elvira Lambey (Guribiyuwa) was one of Lova Boy’s earliest musical influences.
But still, with his father elsewhere, a missing mother, and an abusive uncle to contend with, it wasn’t long before Lova Boy started to get into trouble and when his grandmother died it only complicated matters for the young man.
Missing his mother and father and the love that parents pass onto their children and living in abject poverty with an abusive uncle, he shifted his focus to his friends and their band.
Lova Boy had developed a love and appreciation for music at an early age having spent countless hours rocking out on street corners with his childhood friends using a broomstick and cans of powdered milk to form the foundation of their trapset band.
In those days, Lova Boy says that playing with his friends in the band and practicing was all that he had to look forward to everyday.
A lot older and wiser, Lova Boy can see now that as a child his inability to process and articulate his emotions turned into anger and eventually a ten-year-old gun toting Blood gang member—who was an alcoholic.
Los Angeles’ war on gangs during the 90s saw mass deportations of Blood gang members back to Belize. Often times seen as a new family option for street youths like Lova Boy, it wasn’t long before he became a fulltime gang member at a time when cocaine was being flown from Colombia to Los Angeles, guns were being shipped from Los Angeles to the streets of Belize, and shootouts and funerals were common occurrences.
By the late 90s, Lova Boy had all but given up his love of music for life in the rough streets of Belize and then he received a phone call that would change his life forever.
Off of drugs and working, Lova Boy’s mothers starts to send for each of her kids to come live with her in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica.
Before Lova Boy can make the trip, he must leave his rural town and live with another family in the city to learn how to adapt to life in the city and by another name. A name that will get him into America.
He does this and is successful coming to America at the age of 14. But after years of estrangement from his mother, he can only refer to her as “Miss” and “Ma’am.” He’s also fully indoctrinated into life as a member of a gang and so it wasn’t long before he was introduced to America’s juvenile justice system with stints in various camps and facilities including Los Padrinos and Sylmar—one of which proved to be a turning point in his life.
While in a juvenile hall camp, Lova Boy joined a writing group and began writing poetry. Upon his release, staff members who had quickly identified his talent, asked him to come back and lead workshops for youths in the same position he was in—something that he still does to this day.
Lova Boy managed through all of this to graduate from St. Michael’s Catholic School in South Los Angeles with his high school diploma. A graduate, and now a legal US resident, it’s about this time that Lova Boy decided to focus on his music fulltime, something that he’d put to the side during much of his youth.
He begins by performing at reggae shows developing a following and eventually meets a representative with the famed Westlake Recording Studios (Michael Jackson, Missy Elliot, The Neptunes, Justin Timberlake). It wasn’t long before he was flown to New York to meet with then Def Jam Recordings president Jay Z and Grammy Award-winningrecord executive, songwriter, and record producer L.A. Reid.
Passing himself off as a reggae artist, L.A. Reid was impressed with the young Lova Boy but couldn’t make a decision on whether or not to sign him and deferred to Jay Z. Equally impressed but unsure as to how to market him, it’s Jay Z who tells Lova Boy to go back home to Belize and blow up there and to come back and see him.
Words that Lova Boy never forgot and spent the past couple of years trying to bring to fruition.
In 2004, Lova Boy immediately went to work on re-branding his career, image, and music style—starting with transitioning from the popular reggae style of music to Punta Rock or Belizean Punta—a form of the traditional punta rhythm of the Garifuna people of Honduras, Belize and Guatemala.
Having no real money to speak of and no label to back him, Lova Boy put together a team of his friends and supporters and took his sound from the streets of Los Angeles back home to Belize.
In 2011, after releasing his first album Grand Opening, his song “Tornado” broke the record for longest running video at number one and earned him the Song of the Year award as well as a nomination for Artist of the Year at this year’s Belizean Music Awards making him a household name—no small feat in a county where only 70% of the population has a television and even less have access to the internet. Compared to America where there is no shortage of television stations to choose from, Belize has only 7 television broadcast stations for a population of 333,200.
With a career just beginning to take off, Lova Boy was tapped to work on projects with the Black Eyed Peas, The Fugees’ Pras, and rapper and producer Warren G, something that he credits to his versatility as an artist where he can go effortlessly from Punta Rock, to reggae, all mixed in with a little bit of hip-hop.
Branching out into film and television, Lova Boy’s “Get Dis Money” is featured in the hit film “The Confidant” starring rapper David Banner and Boris Kodjoe. He’s currently is working with noted filmmaker and West Coast hip hop historian Gregory Everett (“The Untold Story of the L.A. Black Panthers”) on a feature film project starring Lova Boy to be shot in Belize next year.
More recently, Lova Boy just completed his fifth music video for his song “You Da Wife.”
Despite his busy schedule, he still makes time to work with at-risk youth in juvenile detention facilities, schools and on the streets of Los Angeles to help them discover and develop their voices as writers, artists and human beings. Some of the programs he’s affiliated with include the award-winning Street Poets United and the Youth Justice Coalition where his work continues to be recognized by both politicians and his peers.
“I’ve still got a long ways to go,” he says. “I’m just getting started. I just want to make good music, take care of my family, raise my son to be a man, and represent Belize and the Garifuna people.”