The 305’s LunchMoney Lewis may be busy toppin’ charts in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, working with pop superstars like Nicki Minaj and Jessie J, and recording his first full-length album, but — as he’s learned — the bills don’t stop for success. They just pile higher and higher.
So much so that his 2015 debut hit, “Bills,” is an ode to all of those monthly reminders of adulthood.
“I had just moved to L.A. at the time and got my publishing deal with Prescription Songs,” the man born Gamal Lewis recalls.
“Moving to a new area, like a kid going to college, you’re on your own. You got your own apartment. You have new responsibilities to take on. When I first heard the music [to ‘Bills’], it’s what I felt [inspired to write].” And 25 million YouTube views show that “Bills” has clearly hit a nerve with the public.
Before becoming a hit on his home turf, however, LunchMoney’s soulful, feel-good single peaked music charts internationally in Australia and ranked among the top ten in Belgium, New Zealand, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.
“Man, really, it was my deal with Columbia Records,” he says of his worldwide success. “I put ‘Bills’ out and shot the video. I didn’t know how it would turn out. I knew I loved it and couldn’t wait to share my music.
“It caught on in the U.K. and European countries. It’s really cool that foreign places, besides the States, gravitated toward it. Then it did a full 360.”
Indeed, “Bills” has circled back to the States like a boomerang, even catching the attention of Al Roker and David Hasselhoff, who have released impressive — albeit slightly awkward — covers of the song.
“Al Roker is a great dude. I did an interview on The Today Show. David Hasselhoff,” he laughs, “that was a crazy situation. He’s someone I didn’t know [was a fan]. It came out of left field.”
Born and raised in Norwood, or “Little Jamaica, near Carol City,” he explains, LunchMoney has the blood of a musician running through his veins. His father and uncle, Ian and Roger Lewis, are the founding members of Inner Circle, the reggae crew that gave the world one of the greatest musical gifts: the Cops theme song, “Bad Boys.”
“My dad and uncle are like superheroes to me,” he gleams. “They were the first people I saw play an instrument and write music. I have a very artistic, musical family. I have cousins who sing and play instruments. My family is what sparked my energy.”
“Bills” may have launched LunchMoney’s solo career, but the rapper has been working in the music industry for years. He had his hand in some of 2014’s biggest hits, appearing on Nicki Minaj’s “Trini Dem Girls” and cowriting Jessie J’s “Burnin’ Up” as well as Fifth’s Harmony’s “Bo$$.”
“It’s a lot of work,” he admits. “I think a lot of the great artists we see who are on a certain level is because of their work ethic and dedication. The people leading the race, sometimes it doesn’t have to do with talent — it has to do with hard work.” It’s a lesson the musician learned early in life, thanks to his family.
“Work ethic, man. It’s really just being about the craft and loving it and just diving into it. I learned a lot from them in that aspect,” he says of his family. “Jamaicans, man, we got five, six jobs. We always tryin’ to work.”
LunchMoney’s primary focus right now may be on performing, but writing music for other artists is still very much a part of his daily grind.
“It kinda keeps me creative,” he admits. “When I’m not working on my stuff, I’m still writing and doing stuff for other people. It’s like a basketball player practicing during the off-season. When I’m not playing my game, I’m helping others.
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“Obviously, I love my stuff because I get to perform,” LunchMoney points out. “That would probably edge out the writing.”
His next gig will bring him home to the Magic City, where the rapper will make a splash at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach for Mack-A-Poolooza. He’ll be joined by fellow 305 artist Flo Rida, up-and-coming pop diva Natalie La Rose, and “Mr. Boombastic” himself, Shaggy.
“I’m happy to come back home,” he concludes. “I’m out here [in L.A.] working, but I was born and raised in Miami. I love that I’m coming back home.
Mack-A-Poolooza. With LunchMoney Lewis, Natalie La Rose, Shaggy, and Flo Rida. Presented by the Fontainebleau BleauLive Concert Series. Saturday, July 11, 2 to 4 p.m. Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-2000; fontainebleau.com. Lunch and show package costs $50 plus fees via nightpass.co.