October 20, 2010 | 12:00pm
Local rapper/songwriter/DJ LMJ isn't afraid of hip-hop orthodoxy, something that's clear right down to his choice of footwear.
Can you imagine any of your run-of-the-mill, testosterone-fueled street dudes proudly rocking these Adidas JS Wings sneakers by Jeremy Scott? No, and that's a clue to the candy-colored, futuristic vision into which LMJ launches you with his latest video, "Theme Song."
A navy kid, LMJ was born in Virginia Beach, and raised in Atlanta before landing at the University of Miami, where he's currently a student and a DJ on its radio station, WVUM-FM 90.5
. "Theme Song" is all about showing love to his new adopted city.
It's a cheerful, bouncing, synth-driven trip through Miami, from seemingly the world's tiniest barber shop in the Grove, to Sweat Records, to that weird orange-peel-and-egg-shell sculpture downtown, to a baby nipple-bottle sculpture in the Design District, to the cafe/club districts of South Beach, and beyond.
That geographical cross-section should give you an idea of LMJ's musical appeal. It's got enough bleeps and bloops to appeal to the hipster-hop crowd, enough interesting rhyme patterns to be taken seriously as Hip-Hop with a capital "H," and enough swag to get a club going.
Plus, it's hard to watch this video and not just get happy. How can you frown at a violin? It comes in at about 2:18, and yes, that's LMJ really playing. More about that later.
We caught up with LMJ for the run-down on where, exactly, he came from, and where he's going. Check it out below, and if you like the song, download it for free at lightsmusicjams.com
Crossfade: Where are you from originally, and how long have you been making music? Also, how long have you been playing the violin?
LMJ: My family is from Guyana, South America. I'm a first-generation American born in Virginia Beach, Virginia and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm a Navy baby! My parents met, and were officers in the U.S. Navy.
My mom bought my first instrument, a light blue drum set, at age four, and I started taking piano lessons at age seven. I started playing the violin at age 10. My goal was to be apart of the Disney Symphony Youth Orchestra, because they flew you to Orlando, put you in the resort, and fed you Donald Duck waffles while having access to all the amenities. By the time I was good enough to audition I was too old. But it's stuck with me since I was 12 years old.
What made you decide to incorporate the violin into hip-hop?
I'm a fan of string arrangements in all genres of music, especially in hip-hop. Plus, everyone I know is always telling me, "Yo Leon, you gotta put your violin in your tracks," etc. I just ordered a purple electric violin that lights up while playing for live performances. Exciting.
What else do you think sets you apart as a hip-hop artist?
Life sets me apart from any hip-hop MC. As a global pop artist I feel I can be me and the music is a mirror-like reflection of what I chose to show. I hope you like what you see.
How did you come up with the concept for the "Theme Song" video, and who directed it?
directed and edited the "Theme Song" music video. I wrote the initial treatment and sent it to him; we bounced ideas for a couple of days. During an art walk event in the Design District I saw that multi-colored baby bottle nipple globe and atmosphere at the NOW Gallery.
I instantly knew that would be an amazing backdrop for the video and so I took a photo for future reference. While shooting we were actually kicked out, but we got enough for the shot! It was a "run and gun" crusade music video around Miami. Ideas and inspirations pop up all the time though, it's hard to keep up.
What are your upcoming plans for the near future, either releases or performances?
"Party all the Time," the lead single from my upcoming EP, LMJ and The Lover's Rock, will be distributed on iTunes. "Theme Song" is the teaser single and warm-up. We're in pre-production for the "Party All The Time" music video now and that's all I can say.
I just ripped open Grand Central for the UM Takeover, and I'll be performing at the Miami Music Festival and the NYC BMI Showcase this winter.
Finally, when is your WVUM show and what's the format?
I changed my WVUM rotation to 7 to 9 a.m on Tuesday mornings, and it's called "LMJ's Morning Glory." Last week a hardcore WVUM enthusiast called in and said it was the best morning rotation she's ever heard. Haha! I hope she reads this! Thank you!