When Lumidees debut single Never Leave You (Uh Oh) reached Top Ten status in both the U.S. and The UK, the success was dual-edged. While anyone would be glad to see their first single catch on so quickly, the sudden attention took its toll on her career. Under pressure to capitalize on the singles popularity quickly, Lumidee released Almost Famous, an all too appropriately named disc with sales that fell far short of the singles spins.
Today, Lumidee bears no illusions about what went wrong with the first project, and is more than ready to move forward. While Almost Famous was a rushed attempt to take advantage of a surprise hit, Unexpected is a better planned album which Lumidee promises will be a more accurate look at her as an artist.
The album is following a similar path to her first release in the form of the club hit Shes Like the Wind featuring Tony Sunshine, and has elevated to an even hotter buzz with her second single Im Up featuring Jim Jones. This time however, Lumidee is ready for whatever might come, and is fully prepared to take advantage of her second chance at success in an industry where many people dont even get a first.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: The new album is being released by TVT Records. How did that relationship come about?
Lumidee: Basically, I was with the last label for the last three years. We were ready to release the album overseas and decided to shop it in the U.S. We got some interest from a couple of different labels, but when I met with TVT, we had a good meeting and they were ready to move the fastest on the project. It seemed like a better place for me to be, seeing as I had already came from a major and I know how it goes there [competing with] so many other artists. It was the right time for me; being with an independent like TVT, I get the attention I need.
AHHA: You rapped here and there on the first album, but people know you better for singing. On your single Shes Like The Wind, youre rapping and Tony Sunshine handles the singing. Does the single choice indicate that the overall album will lean more towards rapping as well?
Lumidee: Nah, not at all. This wasnt ever really intended to be a single. It was just something that was leaked out and the people grabbed onto it. The response was so big that it was like, Okay, thisll be the single since it was on the album anyway. Personally, I never wouldve picked this because I think it doesnt really tell you whats on the album. I am doing the rapping thing more than on the first album, but Im still doing my singing thing too. I didnt abandon one thing for the other. Im not trying to be a rapper or anything; this is just what I do.
AHHA: Which talent developed first for you; the singing or the rapping?
Lumidee: I actually was doing the rapping thing before I started singing. I was a little bit of a tomboy growing up and started out with freestyling in middle school. I got sick when I was 14-years-old with rheumatoid arthritis, so I was homebound for two years. I was really depressed so I started writing poetry, which turned into writing songs and then singing. It happened that the it was the Uh Oh record that popped off with me singing on it, so thats what the people basically got. It all happened so fast that it was like the world heard my demo, but if Id had more time, it wouldve been more like what youll get to hear this time.
AHHA: So you see the rapping as a natural extension of your talent more than a deliberate move to change your image?
Lumidee: Exactly. Im doing it all and mixing it up, but it all makes sense. Its not like youre gonna get confused and wonder what it is she does because Im doing it the right way. I have two other singles [in Europe] where I rap and sing. Shes Like the Wind wasnt even intended to come out in the States. It just happened like that, but Im happy the people grabbed onto it and love it. It opens the door for both for Tony and for me and leads us into our albums.
AHHA: Will this be a dual single that appears on Tony Sunshines album too?
Lumidee: Yeah, hell be using it as well. My label came to me with the idea and played me a demo of this guy singing the Patrick Swayze song [from Dirty Dancing]. I heard it and was like, Okay what do you want me to do with it? They asked if I could think of a credible artist that would do this justice, and I thought of Tony Sunshine automatically since we were already planning on working on something. We bumped into each other on the set of N.O.R.E.s video shoot and talked about working on each others albums. I sent it to him to see if hed even do it since some people might think it was corny, but he did his thing and sent it back to the label and they loved it.
AHHA: Your career has also run somewhat parallel to Nina Sky. You came out around the same time, and are once again releasing your albums fairly close to each other. How do you plan on setting yourself apart this time around?
Lumidee: Im not mad at [the association]. At the end of the day, when I came out, I knew that no one was doing what I did. I opened the door for certain things to come through and its all good as long as everybody does their thing. I think were pretty different; the only thing is that were all Spanish; theyre from Queens, Im from Harlem. We get compared more for the image than the music. I understand the comparison, but when you go deeper into what they do and what I do, I think people will see the difference.
AHHA: Youre not a reggaeton artist, but because of Diwali riddim on Uh Oh, youre still associated with the American resurgence of dancehall that morphed into the reggaeton movement. How do you feel about the state of reggaeton right now, especially with a lot of people saying that its dead or over?
Lumidee: I dont think its dead; were just in a period right now where certain people just need to step up. Major labels got involved that had no clue what it was about and messed things up a little bit, but Reggaeton has been going on for years way before the majors came in and had any interest. They got interested in the hype and the big records, but as soon as it stopped selling they tried to throw it away. Theres so many good Reggaeton and Latin artists that itll keep moving though. All it needs is that next big joint and its back on.
AHHA: Does having less attention on reggaeton free you from having to do it just to live up to an expectation?
Lumidee: I definitely still mess with it on the album because of the Latin roots, but I do World music. Im just doing me and you take it how you want it. I have a track called Did You Imagine with the reggaeton drums on it, but when it here it, its a lot bigger than that. Its something you could hear on Z-100 or on La Calle [New York radio stations]. Ive traveled so much since the last time I came out that everything Im doing is for the world. Im not just trying to cater to one audience, I want it all.
AHHA: Has being on TVT opened you up to more collaborations for Unexpected?
Lumidee: Of course theres Tony Sunshine, and I have a joint with [TVT labelmate] Pitbull. I worked with N.O.R.E. and Jim Jones, Wyclef is on a record that he produced as well. Snoop Dogg is on the album, and Ive got a track by Scott Storch.
AHHA: What are your plans over the next few months while youre promoting the album?
Lumidee: My focus is completely on the album right now. I cant say that I wouldnt do those things if the opportunity came and it was something I could do well, but I dont wanna suck at anything. Im definitely focused on the album right now and want to make sure the world sees my face and knows what Im about. Its a different feel from the first time around; the world heard my demo, this time youll hear my album.