Singer, rap musician
Straight from Spanish Harlem, R&B singer and rapper Lumidee scored an instant club hit in 2003 with the single "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh)." Although she was barely old enough to get into the clubs in which her single was blasting, that song secured the young artist a deal with Universal Records, who later re-released the popular song nationally on her debut album Almost Famous. After that release it took four more years before Lumidee made a comeback with a new record label, TVT, and a new album, aptly titled Unexpected. While American audiences may have figured that the one-hit wonder was done after only one record, Lumidee in fact spent her time between albums recording and performing overseas, where her fan base was more in tune with her singing/rapping style.
Of Puerto Rican descent, Lumidee Cedeño was born on August 24, 1984, in New York. Growing up in Spanish Harlem, Lumidee was street-smart as well as into hip-hop before she was a teenager. When she was 12 years old her father passed away. Lumidee's mother frequently spent time in prison, and the teenager was often taken care of by her grandparents. During the same time, Lumidee was suffering aches and pains that continued to worsen and go undiagnosed. It wasn't until she was 14 that she discovered she had rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that can be crippling. By the time doctors diagnosed her correctly, her pain was so bad that she had to be home schooled for three years. Ironically, it was that pain and suffering, along with the time she had to spend in bed, that allowed Lumidee to hone her writing skills, from poems to street rhymes.
After managing her arthritis correctly, Lumidee was able to finish high school and head directly into making music. At 19, Lumidee recorded a song with DJ Tedsmooth for his independent label Straight Face. The track "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh)" had an infectious and unique chorus that blended R&B singing and female rapping with an ethnic bite. The beats were fierce enough to get the single played in local clubs and on local radio. New York's Hot 97 voted the track its "Hottest Song."
In 2002, at age 22, Lumidee, still suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, had a hip replacement. She was ready for a new life when record labels swarmed after hearing "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh)." Lumidee signed a deal with Universal Records, who put pressure on the young singer to complete a full-length album as quickly as possible, to capitalize on her hit club track. In June of 2003 Universal released Almost Famous and "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh)" hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100. The catchy, almost-off-note lyrics of the track were heard everywhere that summer. Even though that phrase was the song's calling card, Lumidee admitted to MTV.com's Shaheem Reid that it almost didn't make it into the song. "The song was too short and Ted said, ‘Write a bridge. Just say "Uh Oh."’ I recorded it and I hated it," she confessed to Reid. "But it's just so catchy. I think it just blew up like that because it's so different. I don't have such a strong voice, but it's different." "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh)" was on the album twice, once as a single, and again as a remix with Busta Rhymes and Fabolous.
On Almost Famous, Lumidee mixed R&B, reggae, and a bit of pop. Lumidee enjoys singing as much as she does rapping. "Most people realize that I do this and it's not a gimmick, it's a real thing. A lot of people are still stuck in their ways and they're like ‘you either rap or you sing, you can't do both’," she told EveryUrbanThing.com's Rashmi Shastri. "I don't feel that way because I grew up loving both and doing both." Lumidee toured North America to support Almost Famous, but found she was embraced even more overseas. She parted ways with Universal Records and remained overseas. "You make a lot of mistakes and sometimes you don't have the right people giving you the right information," the young talent told Joanna Douglas of Elle Girl. "It got to the point where it really was not a good working environment…. So I worked hard to get off that label."
Lumidee spent most of 2004 and 2005 overseas, where Almost Famous's second single, "Crashin' a Party," was a success, as was the single "Sientelo" with Speedy. In the summer of 2006 Lumidee and rapper Fat Man Scoop scored a hit with their song "Dance" from the 2006 FIFA World Cup Hits CD. The song was a top ten hit overseas for the entire summer and Lumidee captured new audiences in Germany and Switzerland and everywhere in between, touring behind the success of "Dance." "I think I've had better opportunities in other places because I got to release more music and I got to tour more," Lumidee told Shastri. "They have a better understanding of what I do and they got to hear more than just one record."
In the meantime, Lumidee was jotting down ideas for her sophomore album, which she figured would be released only overseas. But in the United States, TVT Records saw potential for the R&B and hip-hop crossover starlet. In April of 2007 Lumidee released her sophomore album, Unexpected, on TVT. On Unexpected Lumidee thrived with her rapping skills, deftly including enough of her pop singing and street credibility for an equally balanced record. "You know, the first time around it was cool, but I wasn't ready. I feel like the world got to hear my demo," she confided to Douglas about her debut. "This album is definitely a few steps up from my last and I'm proud of it. I think I have something for everybody on it—I messed with the R&B, the hop-hop, the pop, a little big of reggae; it's a mixture of everything."
For Unexpected Lumidee worked with hot producers such as Scott Storch and Wyclef Jean, and included featured guest vocals with the likes of Shaggy, Jim Jones, Pitbull (for the Latin-rap club shaker "Crazy"), N.O.R.E., and Snoop Dogg. Her singing and rap skills were better and she sounded stronger and more confident. Unexpected's first charting single was a cover of Patrick Swayze's famous Dirty Dancing track "She's Like the Wind." Lumidee reworked the song with Terror Squad's Tony Sunshine. Lumidee and Shaggy also added a reggae flavor to Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love." Lumidee seems more than ready to battle her way back to the top. "I never stopped doing my music," she told Billboard's Gail Mitchell. "People put me in a box, and I've been fighting every since to get out of it. I'm here now, and I'm ready."
For the Record …
Born Lumidee Cedeño on August 24, 1984, in New York, NY.
At 19, released dance club hit "Never Leave You (Uh Oooh)" on Straight Face Label; signed to Universal Records, released Almost Famous, 2003; signed to TVT Records, released Unexpected, 2007.
Addresses: Record company—TVT Records, 23 East 4th St., 3rd Fl., New York, NY 10003, website-http://www.tvtrecords.com. Website—Lumidee Official Website: http://www.lumidee.net.
Almost Famous, Universal, 2003.
(Contributor) Goleo VI Presents Hits 2006 FIFA World Cup Hits, Universal, 2006.
Unexpected, TVT, 2007.
Billboard, March 31, 2007.
"Lumidee," EveryUrbanThing.com, http://www.everyurbanthing.com/content.php?cID=621 (September 21, 2007).
"The Return of Lumidee," Elle Girl,http://www.ellegirl.comreadarticle/7620 (September 21, 2007).
TVT Records Official Website, http://www.tvtrecords/com (September 21, 2007).
"Uh-Oooh-Things Are Moving Quickly For Lumidee," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1473294/20030625/lumidee.jhtml (September 21, 2007).
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