What do Janet Jackson, Usher, Daddy Yankee, and French Montana all have in common? They have all worked with Lil Eddie. From singing to songwriting to producing, Lil Eddie is one of the most talented, multifaceted individuals. The Puerto Rican recording artist was discovered by Diddy at 16 years ago, which gives you an idea of his career that follows. Read more…
Lil Eddie recalls sessions with Diddy where he would yell, “How many hits have you written today? Keep going!” Hailing from New York where hip-hop was essentially birthed, Lil Eddie carries with him the fundamentals of music, which consists of meaningful lyrics, standout melodies, and live instrumentation. Now, he’s focused more than ever on tapping into the US market, on top of his success overseas.
For those who don’t know, who is Lil Eddie?
Lil Eddie is a New Yorkian born in New York City, raised in Spanish Harlem. Singer, songwriter, artist, creative artist, director… I would say I’m walking art.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop, pop and R&B?
I think I’m the voice of the new Latino — Latinos are very proud of their culture. But Americanized, and grew up listening to the Biggie’s and Jay-Z’s and everything in between. NYSYNC and Britney Spears, and soul music. Stevie Wonder, Donnie Hathaway, and just a fusion of all those different influences.
What was the inspiration behind your name?
Well, Diddy gave me my name. Diddy and Mario Winans wanted to give me my name. There was a guy named Eddie Morales who was a big choreographer, who did Justin Timberlake and Janet, and he discovered me. I got discovered singing on a train in New York City. They brought my demo to him. and he met me. His name was Eddie as well, so they were like, “You’re little Eddie. You’re never going to grow taller, so you’re the big voice in the little body.”
Being from New York, how does that play into your life and your career?
I mean, New York is the home of Biggie and Jay. New York is the mean jungle, the mean streets. It was never easy, especially being Latino. If I wanted to sing in the genre of R&B, people instantly threw that out of action. I had to work harder. It was a lot more footwork. There’s so much talent in New York. Everybody could sing, everybody could dance, everybody could rap, so I think I had to really figure out what made me different from the rest. And that was from wordplay, melody, a bunch of things.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
This is where Hollywood is. This is where it’s all at. I think LA is also tougher than the world thinks. Everyone comes here trying to be a star, and very few really make it. But if you can make it in LA, that’s what really determines your longevity in the industry. Coming to LA and making it and figuring yourself out. They say you go to New York to fall in love, and you come to LA to find yourself. I believe that.
What’s your favorite part about the city?
I really like LA people more than the implants. I think the implants come here with the perspective of “this is Hollywood, I gotta act Hollywood,” but the people from California are the chillest and most relaxed. They grew up with good weather. Everybody’s just chill. Everybody understands personal space. It’s definitely relaxed me a lot more. And their style is sick. LA style is real dope.
You produce, songwrite, and sing, what has been your ultimate goal as an artist?
My ultimate goal as an artist is always just to motivate my people and let them know to appreciate the sound. If you keep following your dreams, it’s going to pay off. For me, I just want to see more Latin people in the mainstream space. Latin music is popular, but it’s a novelty. Like if you’re Latin, you sing in Spanish. But for me, I grew up in New York. I grew up with people who were killers and all types of stuff. And then dreamers, kids who came in and had nothing — no food, no money. I made a good living for myself, just working really hard believing in my dreams. Never giving up.
Is there a title that you prefer over the other?
I think music found me, so it would be selfish for me to just say I’m this or that. I have success as a singer-songwriter and producer, and as an artist. But I would really just want to consider myself just as an artist. I think it all branches from the tree.
What’s the best memory from working with Simon Cowell and launching Fifth Harmony’s career?
Simon is one of the most detailed people I’ve ever met. He can spot the little crack in the surface, the little chipped paint in the beautiful one colored piece of art. I’ve learned so much from him. For Fifth Harmony, I knew the minute I met those girls that there was something special brewing. Camila always really, really stood out. Her tone was just very radio.
Dinah was really great, she had a big following. I’ve seen Normani grow and Ally grow, and Lauren was always captivating with her eyes. She had those “eyes of steel” that Simon likes to say. She always had that fire to be something. Their combination was incredible. Just to have a fingerprint on their legacy is incredible for me.
You’ve worked with some of music’s hottest artists, can you talk about some of your favorites? (Janet Jackson, Usher…)
Yeah I mean, Usher was insane. When he first walked in, he thought I was an intern. I was like “No no, I’m here to write. I wrote some songs that you should listen to.” He was like, “Can you go get something to eat for me?” I was like “nah, that was years ago.” But we really clicked. I learned so much from Usher. I grew up watching him. To be in his presence and to see that he was really about getting things great and about making history, that was just an incredible moment for me.
What about working with Jennifer Lopez?
Well that was a song that I did with Mario Winans and Puffy at the time. Things moved so quick. I was young and writing all these records and then one day, this artist would cut it, the next artist would cut it. It would just happen all so quickly and I was just a young kid. Every experience has been one for the books that I’ll never forget.
Can you talk about transitioning from producer to singer-songwriter?
I always was a singer songwriter. I have 5 #1 albums in Japan, a greatest hits album, sold over 1 million records in Japan.
Are they in English?
In English. See, Japan is the second biggest market in the world. Probably now the #1 biggest market in the world.
Was that intentional or what happened there?
So what happened was, when I did my deal with Diddy and Mario Winans in New York City, when that didn’t all line up the right way, Japan started to reach out and Germany started to reach out. I did territory deals in Japan and it just blew up. Everything was going #1, and I just went and started touring. It became a leading market for me as an artist. I was so focused on just giving people music, people that love me.
What did you do with your first advance?
I filled the voids. I never had kicks so I bought a lot of sneakers, a lot of clothes, a lot of gear. I gave a lot of people money. I definitely shared my money. I bought studio equipment. I gave my mother some racks.
What does mom think of your successes?
I don’t think she really knows. I think she kind of knows, like if I do something on Latin television, she gets it.
Does she know Diddy is GOAT?
[laughs] She knows, but she doesn’t really get caught in any of it. She can just see, because we no longer have those financial issues that we had when I was a kid.
How important is social media for your career?
It’s very important now. I think superstars were a figment of your imagination back in the day. If a superstar walked in, it was like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe that star is there.” But today’s generation, people want to know what you’re doing, when you’re doing it. They wanna be able to look up on Instagram and see what you’re wearing, see what you’re eating, see what you’re doing. If you don’t allow them into your life, they can just go right to the next channel, right to the next artist. It’s super important.
3 things you need in the studio?
“All I need is my mic.” [Nas voice] 2 more things: good vibes and sometimes hookah. A lot of times, hookah.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I could probably be arrested. Music saved my life. But if it wasn’t music, it would be fashion for sure.
Who is the most played artist on your phone?
That’s hard, I listen to a lot of different artists. I listen to a lot of old school, Latin, hip-hop, R&B, jazz. Especially in working on all the shows, I’m always thinking about what songs we could reinvent and bring back.
Is there someone you wanna collab with that you haven’t yet?
Biggie is king for me. I mean, I love Cardi. Not just because she’s Cardi, but I’ve been following her journey and how much she did it independently. And her whole movement. I’m definitely proud of a girl like that. She’s honest and vulnerable. She just doesn’t give a fuck about what anybody else thinks, and that’s important today. You have to just be who you are and forgive yourself first, and your own past.
What advice do you have for an aspiring Lil Eddie?
Be delusional, don’t let anybody tell you that your dreams are too big. If they don’t scare you, then they’re not big enough. For me, I always put the man above first. Stay in school. I graduated high school a year early and started college a year early at 15, and that was very important for me. If I wasn’t educated, I wouldn’t know any of my legal business and contracts. That was super important for me. But for real, just never give up. Learn your craft. Today, the world is at the your fingertips, I didn’t have that growing up.