Crew Profile: The Come Up Gang – Lion [Interview]
Edmonton, AB – The guys in the Come Up Gang are getting ready to launch themselves across the nation. The Edmonton-based crew of Lion (aka: L. Luciano), Raw Malone, Akay Audemar, Ben E Brix, and Shaw Langley, are gearing up for the launch of several forthcoming projects and albums.
HipHopCanada recently caught up with Lion, who pulls double-duty as the crew’s marketing guru while honing his craft through solo work and collaborative projects with Shaw Langley. He told us about some of his upcoming works, his distinct Canadian-Bahamian influence, and his roots in the hip-hop scene. Check it out after the jump
“When I was in school in the Bahamas I used to take the hype song on the radio and rewrite it to tease someone the next day in school” – Lion
HipHopCanada: How do you define yourself as an artist, and what specifically is your craft?
Lion: As an artist, I am diverse. Being born in Canada and having lived eight years in the Bahamas and in the States for two years has given me a wide variety of styles and experience, which is all reflected in my music. I do singing, hook-writing, [and] reggae (when I’m in a good mood). But for my rap I do East Coast, down South (trap-style) songs and West Coast hip-hop. I am extremely versatile with my style and my craft. I’m an all-around entertainer and I love being in front of a crowd and keeping them entertained.
HipHopCanada: How did you get involved in hip-hop?
Lion: When I was in school in the Bahamas I used to take the hype song on the radio and rewrite it to tease someone the next day in school. Someone told me to take it seriously and write songs and enter the school talent competition at Temple Christian. I won third place and went on to do talent shows at my church, where I met the two members of the group I was in when I first started recording in 1998. My love for music spiraled onward. It has been a 15-year love affair.
HipHopCanada: What are some of your early memories about music, performing and writing? How did you start becoming who you now are?
Lion: It all started in 1998 with a group called Judgement. We went to Funk Epidemic recording studios to record a 12-song demo. We worked with the likes of Sammi Star and Rik Carey (now the lead singer of the Baha Men). I remember my first big show opening for DMX in 1998 in Nassau Bahamas. It was huge. DMX had his first record out It’s Dark and Hell is Hot and it was a banger. I went on to do Say What? Karaoke in 1999, where we made lots of contacts working with BET on their ‘Wrap It Up “ campaign in 2001 in Washington D.C.
HipHopCanada: What do you feel most inspired by?
Lion: Music inspires me. I listen to music all day. All kinds: soul, jazz, hip-hop, rap, reggae, alternative rock, some heavy metal (mostly older ’90s), some punk rock, ska… So music and life inspire me.
HipHopCanada: Tell me about your crew, and what your role in it is.
Lion: My crew I’m working with is C.U.G. (Come Up Gang ). My role is as one of the founding members: I facilitate everyone with a place to record, network, set up shows, help come up with ideas for marketing and bringing in revenue for the group. I’m the official sales rep. And of course, I’m an artist as well. So my plate is full and I eat happily.
HipHopCanada: How do you represent for your city and how has your city/region shaped who you are?
Lion: Being of a dual citizen (born in Canada [and] raised in the Bahamas for my teenage years), I always rep for the 780 E-town. And being involved in the hip-hop community actively since 2000, but also being from the Bahamas (Nassau, to be exact), I rep for my island to the 242 and have been working on cross-promoting them both. [I’m] introducing Canadian music to the Bahamas and Bahamian music to Canada by doing collaborations of the two combined. I always put on for where I’m from. Like I say: “From the 780 to the 242.” And some of this cross-promoting and cross-artistry can be seen in my upcoming project, From the Snow to the Beach.
HipHopCanada: What is your greatest success so far as an artist?
Lion: I’ve opened for countless artists, such as DMX, Chamillionaire , Lloyd Banks, Raekwon, Gza, Mad Child, Moka Only, AZ, Cormega and Maestro Fresh Wes. I’ve released many music videos. My biggest (to date) is “We Wining,” which was shot in Edmonton by Iconz Media out of the Bahamas with Sammi Star, So$a Man and M. Deez from Nassau. I’ve also collaborated with Moka Only, Mad Child , Rob the Viking, Onyx, Planet Asia, AZ and Cormega. I was also on a few TV shows: one that aired in the Tri City called MHz Urban. I worked with BET. Had an audition for Sony and Warner Brothers in New York. Not to mention putting on successful shows with Mad Child and Moka Only. I’ve had a lot of greatest accomplishments. Those are just a few and there are many more to come.
HipHopCanada: If you had some sum up your musical/lyrical style in one sentence, what would you say?
Lion: From the 780 to the 242.
HipHopCanada: What are your goals for your life as an artist, and what are the steps you plan to take to achieve those goals?
Lion: My goals are to obtain a distribution deal for my crew from a major label and go on to work with ig artist and make a mark on the industry and later branch off into acting. Step-by-step I’m ‘a keep bangin’ people over the head with records and videos from myself and my crew, and keep knocking out these shows ’til it happens. It’s about persistence. To quote a cliche, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”
HipHopCanada: What are you most excited about right now, and how can others get involved in it?
Lion: I’m most excited about our projects about to drop my EP Fire and Ice, my full-length CD From the Snow to the Beach, my album with Shaw Langley called The Come Up and a few others in the works, as well as my crew’s stuff.
HipHopCanada: Anything else we should know about you? Please give us any final thoughts.
Lion: Our website will be up soon look out for us. We gonna make waves across Canada and the Caribbean.