[Locals Only] LMNO Creates a Sound That's Fresh, Fierce, Flake-Free

DonNt Flake Out

*This article was updated on Nov. 6, 2009.


Long Beach rapper LMNO (a member of hip-hop group the Visionaries) will tell you his new album, Devilish Dandruff With Holy Shampoo (out Nov. 17 on Up Above Records), isnNt a classic. ItNs a humble thing to say. And it also happens to be true—if by classic, one means a record that would be a big commercial hit. For now, the Long Beach rapper born James Kelly prefers to dance on the bleeding edge of hip-hop progression. For him, that meant collaborating with innovative French producer Yann Kesz, bouncing ideas over the Internet from their respective countries without ever meeting face-to-face. But thereNs no digital jet lag here: LMNONs diary of fiery staccato flows over KeszNs sonic lather of thick bass and clean keys, creating a sound thatNs fresh, fierce and (most important) flake-free.


OC Weekly: How did the collaboration with Yann Kesz come about?

LMNO: Through MySpace, he reached out [to me] about four years ago. He just sent me a beat and asked if I could rhyme over it. I laid vocals to it, and he sent me another beat. By the second song, I was like, “WhatNs the possibility of doing an LP?” The dude was crackinN, so I asked him if heNd like to do an album. INve never physically talked with the dude, INve never physically even met the dude, so INm hoping that on my next run overseas, INll be able to actually meet with him.

Seems like a strange way to do an album.

This was definitely a unique situation.

What inspired the album title?

My tattoo artist had just come back from Mexico, and he was talking about the experience he had at the border. One of the border officers told him in Spanish that they were searching [cars] for the “devilNs dandruff.” And right away, I was like, “Aw, thatNs what they call cocaine?” So I took “the devilNs dandruff” and just played off it.

Who are some guests on the album?

JFK, a.k.a. Ninja Face, from Greyskul. We got Lorett Fleur and Kev Brown.

What is the biggest show/tour youNve done this year?

The [European] tour I did with Oddisee, LD, Kev Brown and myself—that was pretty big. We had shows in arenas, little dive-bar clubs. It was very well-covered.

With Yann on the album, do think that helps you expand your appeal to the French hip-hop-heads? Do a lot of them already dig you?

ItNs not like itNs my personal mission, but I definitely believe in abolishing that whole French hip-hop vs. Cali hip-hop vs. New York hip-hop, etc. ItNs just hip-hop.

What does the acronym LMNO mean to you on this album?

Leave My Name Out kinda sticks out the most because that was the first album I ever released. But now INm more like, “Leave My Name On.” INm seeing that everything has room for growth, and the roots are definitely free to grow. INm not stuck.

Which song on the album is the most personal to you?

This album was just a personal experience, all-in-all. “Never Stop” is that emotional idea of “I donNt care what you think about me; I donNt care what you say about me.” I wake up and go to sleep knowing that I should never stop what INm doing because of that one person on a daily basis that INm affecting. ThatNs what INve been sent here to do.

LMNO performs with Kev Brown, Declaime, J. Rocc, Babu and Orator at his album-release party at the Rhythm Lounge, 245 Pine Ave., Long Beach. Thurs., Nov. 12, 8 p.m. $10 before 10 p.m.; $12 after. 21+. For more info on LMNO, visit www.myspace.com/lmno.

Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and upcoming show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to le*****@oc******.com.

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