Saturday 16 March 2013

Whatever Happened To RnB? - Lumidee

Remember when Kanye West was just a producer and Mary J.Blige wore that horrendous grey wig in the 'Family Affair' promo? In this weekly feature, I take a look back at some of the best RnB artists of yesteryear, sharing their signature videos and underrated hits, as well as looking at what they’re up to nowadays. Previous posts have focussed on Destinys Child's live Superbowl Halftime Show comeback, the top 5 RnB covers by Youtube sensation VanJess and Jay-Z's Top 5 guest raps, as well as the Honeyz comeback as part of the 'Big Reunion'. 

Today we're going to take a look back at singer/songwriter Lumidee, who recorded her debut album back in 2003 after being discovered by local producer DJ Tedsmooth. The title 'Almost Famous' proved to be quite ironic as lead single "Never Leave You (Uh Oh)" was huge but became the singers only big hit to date. This was such a tune back in the day and marked Lumidee out as a unique artist who stood apart from the more generic RnB artists that populated the charts at the time. The guest raps by Fabolous and Busta Rhymes were good but what I loved most about this track is the dancehall beat and Lumidee's unique vocal. 

It's easy to dismiss Lumidee as a one-hit wonder but she actually had a number of album tracks that could have been released as successful singles if marketed properly. 'Crashin' A Party' was the only other official release from 'Almost Famous' but the song performed poorly on the charts, despite an appearance by superstar rapper N.O.R.E. I think 'Crashin' A Party; is a great mid-tempo track but its vibe was perhaps a little underwhelming after the upbeat production of 'Never Leave You'. Judge for yourselves by watching the official promo below.

Were it up to me, I would have released 'Honestly' as the next official single off the album. The beautiful lyrics are a fantastic showcase for Lumidee's songwriting talent and the simple production sounds great with the heartfelt vocals. 'Honestly' would have provided fans with a contrast to Lumidee's first single and could have helped to establish her as a bigger artist. 

'For Keeps' has a slowed down street vibe which is typical of the second half of the album. It's one of the highlights for me though and could have been a third or fourth single released to promote the album.

'Go With Me' features rapper Handsome Joe but the majority of rhymes actually come from Lumidee, who proves herself to be a surprisingly adept rapper. Her latino style would still be distinctive even in today's market and it's a shame that Lumidee couldn't show this side to her music officially on the charts.

'My Last Thug' features another Lumidee rap but her voice has a much harder edge to it here which stands in stark contrast to her sweet singing voice on the chorus. 

The last song that I wanted to share from the 'Almost Famous' album is 'Me & You', a piano ballad that shows off the beauty in Lumidee's voice, with dramatic strings to match.

Puerto Rican rapper Speedy released a collaboration with Lumidee called 'Sientelo' in 2005. The track was a moderate success in Europe and although I'm not particularly a fan of Speedy's verses, Lumidee's chorus has a catchy dance-along vibe which I quite like.

In 2006, Lumidee recorded a bizarre collaboration with rapper Fatman Scoop for the Fifa World Cup 2006 Soundtrack. 'Dance!' features a sample of Whitney Houston's classic 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' sung over a Caribbean flavoured beat and yes, it's as bad as it sounds. The only notable thing about this release is that it was the first single Lumidee released that featured her rapping. It's a shame then that the song is so terrible.

Lumidee released her second album 'Unexpected' in 2007 and although it received better reviews than her debut, the follow up failed to make much of  impact on the charts. Lead single 'She's Like The Wind' was a cover of an 80s Patrick Swayze hit from 'Dirty Dancing', which was perhaps not the most obvious path to commercial success but this collaboration with US singer Tony Sunshine succeeded in showing off another side to the New York RnB singer.

Lumidee continued to promote 'Unexpected' with second single 'Crazy', which featured a guest rap from Pitbull. I think this would have been a better single to release first as it's truer to Lumidee's sound and more importantly, the promo answers that age old question..."What does Pitbull look like in anything other than a sleazy suit?"

Lumidee only released one more track from her second album and it turned out to be her last official single release. Unfortunately, the label decided to play it safe with another cover featuring yet another guest rapper. This time round it was Roberta Flack's 'Feel Like Making Love', with extra verses from Shaggy. It's a sweet song that shows off Lumidee's range and tone but Shaggy kind of ruins it for me. If you ignore him though, it's actually a pretty decent cover.

Since her second album flopped, Lumidee has only made an occasional guest appearance here and there with little chart success. In 2008, Lumidee featured on a song called 'Let Go' which was performed by a Romanian pop singer called Corina... no I hadn't heard of her either. I don't particularly rate this song but I did enjoy Lumidee's guest spot on the track. I just wish she was getting more exposure.

2008 was definitely a strange year for Lumidee as she also recorded a song called 'Don't Sweat That' with a rapper called Dr Stay Dry!!?? I'm not sure if it's a novelty record or what as the whole thing is just so weird. I can't tell if I love it, hate it or just don't care. Make up your own mind by checking out the cartoonish promo below.

Lumidee's career went from bad to worse with yet another strange collaboration the following year, this time with Iranian-Swedish singer Arash. The track 'Kandi' features a so-so chorus from Lumidee and a weird-ass video which I think is supposed to be funny but it's kind of hard to tell. Lumidee redeems herself somewhat though with her rap verse and she looks great in the video.

Just when it seemed like Lumidee's music career had come to an end, the Latino singer released a brand new video at the end of 2012 for the track 'Party All Week'. This upbeat club anthem is a step in the right direction for the RnB performer and I hope that its release means that a new album is in the works for 2013. In the meantime, here's the promo for 'Party All Week'.

So what's your favourite single from Lumidee? Do you have a favourite rap collaboration from the RnB singer? And do you think she has a shot at making it big again? Let me know by commenting, liking and sharing below. Finally, remember to come back next week for another edition of 'Whatever Happened To RnB?' Thanks!

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