It began with a simple kick-drum beat. While his producers Mike Rizzo and Steve "Mr. Mig" Migliore excused themselves from the studio for a few minutes to tend to some urgent business, Mike Lembo started freestyling over a kick-drum beat.
"I just knew the speed of the song, the BPM [beats-per-minute], and I wrote like half of it to just with the kick drum," Lembo explains. "I just had an idea. When they came back in the room, we built the whole melody around what I had written. It was kind of an odd way to do it, but it worked like magic."
The impromptu burst of creativity resulted in "Can't Come Down," Lembo's latest dance-floor basher for Global Groove Entertainment. A video for the track was just released and the single is now available on iTunes in a series of different mixes, including one by U.K. producers Wideboys.
"Can't Come Down" follows up the similarly feel-good anthem "Life of the Party," and proves that the 24-year-old East Meadow, Long Island native has found his niche.
As a teen, Lembo was smitten by hip-hop and began writing his own rhymes trying to emulate his heroes Eminem, the Beastie Boys, Tribe Called Quest, Nas and Jay-Z. A few years later, Lembo took his muse to another level by studying producing and engineering at the Institute of Audio Research in New York City and later at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.
"Can't Come Down"
"That's when I started to become really serious with my own music, vocally, and when I came home, I decided I wanted to be an artist," Lembo says. "That was just kind of a reality check for me. School was good, but I didn't to be working on other people's music, I wanted to be working on my own. And I knew I was good enough."
His talent was also recognized by Grammy-nominated producer Rizzo, the man behind more than 30 dance chart-toppers, including Britney Spears' "Womanizer" and Whitney Houston's "Try It On My Own." Rizzo soon inked Lembo to his Global Groove Entertainment label, which is distributed via Ingrooves/Universal. A Lembo EP is scheduled through Global Groove in fall.
Behind the scenes of the "Can't Come Down" music video shoot.
"We're very proud to have Mike as part of our label," Rizzo says. "The first single did pretty good, so it's full steam ahead in 2012. We're looking forward to doing a lot more with Mike."
"Life of the Party," Lembo's first collaboration with Rizzo and Mig, was originally produced by one of his Long Island buddies, Graig "Mighty Fuzz" Young, and remixed by Rizzo and Mig. An elaborate pool party-themed video clip, directed by Rob Schwartz, perfectly captured the feel-good vibe of the track.
"We just wanted it to have that Jersey Shore-Hamptons vibe to it, given that I'm a Long Island kid," Lembo explains.
Charlie Zwick, whose credits include videos for P. Diddy, Lloyd Banks and Fabolous, lensed the clip for "Can't Come Down." Shot in Lembo's local hangouts, the Zachary's and Aura nightclubs, it features the rapper in a vigilante role in which he takes out all the guys from the club, so he can have the girls to himself. In the comedic clip and dance-floor ready track, Lembo seems to have found himself as an artist.
"That's why the music is working a lot better for me now," he says, "because I'm crossing over to this party, dance-pop lane. Even though I'm still rapping on these records, they're more feel good and radio friendly. It's working better for me, because I'm staying more true to my lifestyle - to what I'm doing. I'm just a young kid going out and having fun. It works a lot better than trying to be an underground, hard rapper, which I'm not. When I was younger, I didn't know any better."
Although Lembo cites Drake, LMFAO and Mac Miller as current faves, he's not just jumping on the feel-good, hip-hop bandwagon. His live-now, have-fun-while-you-can ethos comes from his real-life experience. At the age of 10, he saw his father, who was 45-years-old, die of a sudden heart attack.
"I always have that thought in the back of my mind," Lembo says. "My father died young, I've already lost three out of my four grandparents, so I've seen a lot of death at a young age. That's definitely an incentive to enjoy life while I'm here and that comes out in the music."