Remember that song with the dancehall riddum, â€œUh Oh, Uh ohhhhhâ€. It was called â€œNever Leave Youâ€, performed by Lumidee. Well Lumidee hasn’t really come out with any other major singles since then , but she has been staying busy. Lumidee has been working with Iranian-born signer Arash Labaf, who’s project she’s contributed rap verses to. Well, recently, Lumidee got the opportunity to shoot a music video for Arash’s project on the infamous island of Cuba. Due to tainted U.S. relations, there were a couple preconceived notions of how she would be treated on the island and also how she’d be treated by the U.S. authorities when she comes back. The Miami Herald via the AP caught up with Lumidee to talk about a multitude of things. Read the story belowâ€¦
Rapper Lumidee makes rare US music video in Cuba
By Will Weissert – Associated Press Writer
HAVANA — It’s well after midnight and the New Yorker is strutting down a crumbling sidewalk in impossibly high – red-sequined – heels, lip-syncing a few seconds of her rap while cameras roll for a music video.
Almost inevitably, a misstep on Havana’s cracked and uneven concrete sends her pitching forward.
“Sorry, I’m going again,” giggles singer and rapper Lumidee, regaining her balance and turning sharply on the same heel that nearly toppled her to head back down the block.
“Yeah,” director Michel Miglis yells from behind a camera perched on a second-floor balcony over her head. “And don’t smile!”
Best-known for her summer smash of six years ago, “Never Leave You” – think “Uh Oooh, Uh Oooh” – 24-year-old Lumidee has come to Cuba to finish a video for Iranian-born signer Arash Labaf’s song “Kandi,” to which she contributed rap solos.
It’s Labaf’s third video in Cuba, but including Lumidee makes the production one of very few music videos filmed on the island to feature an American. Forty-seven years of U.S. economic sanctions have choked off nearly all travel and trade between the two countries.
Her trip to Cuba is more proof that while the Obama administration and the government of Cuba talk tentatively about improving relations, the entertainment world is already well into the thaw.
“When I heard the shoot was in Cuba I panicked. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was a little bit scared to come,” said Lumidee, who was born Lumiana DeRosa Cedeno.
“You don’t know how it’s going to be. Like you’re not wanted here, and the people would not like you,” she said. “But Cubans just seem happy and laid back.”
The video, in which Labaf plays himself and three goofball characters vying for the girl, includes shots on a beach east of Havana and at the famed Bacardi Building downtown, which served as headquarters of the rum giant before it fled the island after Fidel Castro took power in 1959.
U.S. jazz and folk musicians have often worked with Cuban colleagues. Collaborations have included Ry Cooder in the Buena Vista Social Club recordings of the 1990s and jazz festival appearances by the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Charlie Haden and Jack DeJohnette.
Audioslave broke the decades-long barrier to U.S. rock concerts in Cuba with a thundering show on the Cuban capital’s seaside Malecon in 2005. But Washington’s trade sanctions and the Cuban government’s ambivalence toward rock and rap have kept most American musicians away.
Lumidee, who is of Puerto Rican heritage, grew up in Spanish Harlem. She and an entourage including her manager and husband, makeup artist and a DJ friend had to fly through a third country because of their U.S. passports. She asked that her full itinerary not be published to avoid problems with American authorities.
“It’s more old-fashion, more pure,” she said of Havana’s stuck-in-the-1950s air. “Coming from New York, you know, everyone’s angry over there. It’s nice here.”
U.S. actors have long been attracted to Cuba. When Lumidee checked into Havana’s iconic Hotel Nacional, she ran into Bill Murray, James Caan and Robert Duval, who are here on a “research trip.” Puerto Rican-born actor Benicio del Toro is also in town.
“I think everyone should see it, see Cuba,” Lumidee said. “All Americans deserve to come here, too.”
But for now, Americans are still an oddity.
Lumidee did her strutting for the cameras on Lealtad Street amid stately but decaying old buildings that neither the communist state nor the people who live in them can afford to maintain.
Several generations of Cubans usually cram into tiny apartments, and as technicians erected lights, a large crowd of onlookers formed – even though things didn’t really get going until nearly 1 a.m.
Teens heading out to local clubs stopped to gawk alongside neighborhood kids in baseball caps and shorts, while grandparents ambled onto sagging balconies to watch from above.
“The people kind of stare a little at me,” said Lumidee, who complemented the killer heels with a pink-sequin vest and blue short shorts. “I don’t think they get to see a lot of New Yorkers.”