Harlem rhyme-hustler Lenox Hughes first came out the gate with 2019’s debut Finding The Balance (though he initially cut his teeth in the game under another emcee name). This past February, he celebrated Black History Month with Langston’s Son, which was entirely produced by The Standouts (Ty Farris, Lord Juco). On December 11th he will drop his third project, Opulent Habits, which was blessed with soulful beats from Michigan producer, AP (Bub Rock, Jae Millz). Lenox describes Finding The Balance as his most personal work, Langston’s Son as his consciousness and this forthcoming release as a celebration of life, which includes his appreciation for fly-styles, the finer things but also an acknowledgement that it’s not all about money or material things.
Below we learn more about the emcee, the project and are proud to premiere the entire album.
Thanks for doing this interview. First off, I understand that you used to rhyme under a different name before Lenox Hughes, why did you choose Lenox Hughes?
I used to go by the name T-Real. I figured I would change it to make something more unique so I took the world famous Lenox from Lenox Ave, which a street in Harlem that I grew up on. The Hughes part derives from the great Langston Hughes which was the leader of the Harlem Renaissance.
Even though you are originally from Harlem, NY you now live in Los Angeles. Around what year did you start rhyming? and did you pop up in cyphers, shows and other events in New York? Did you run into notable emcees on the way up? For example I heard you are tight with Bub Rock and Jae Millz, how did you connect with them?
I started rhyming about 8 years old making my way to recording my self on tape over instrumentals and making my first official studio session around the age of 13. I’ve came across legends growing up like Ma$e, Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz, McGruff, the whole Vacant Lot when they was popping. Unfortunately Big L was already deceased so I didn’t get to see him. Me and Millz younger brother hung in the same crew so I would always see him at the crib or around the way. He ended up putting a rap group together called the PO10NT DEPT that I was part of that’s what really got my name out there. Far as my brother Bub I met him through a mutual friend we have and we been locked in ever since.
On your new album “Opulent Habits” you pay tribute to that fly-life in Harlem NY, what styles/gear from back in the day do you miss the most? Besides Versace Shades, what’s the flyest pieces you rock?
Growing up I loved the Guess jeans with the Nautica golf shirts we would get from Jan’s. Even the Pelle Pelle leathers with the matching Vasquez boots was another dope era. These days I’m in Balenciaga track jackets with the matching Balenci sneakers.
When you and AP started working on this project, did you give him any input on the type of beats you wanted? Over how long a period of time did it take to make this album?
The track on the album “The Hype” pretty much set the tone and I picked that out from a smaller pack of beats. Turning around 3 days later and AP sent me 16 beats and I worked on some of those records. After the 3rd pack of beats we got it “dialed in” as AP would say. We’ve been working on this project since late Aug/early Sept.
The single “Paid In Full” was written as tribute to the big hustlers in Harlem from your childhood, can you give us an idea of what that period was like for those who lived uptown and some of the legends who inspired that track?
Man I just wanted everything they had far as the money, all the dope clothes. You know Harlem legends gotta have the illest cars and the baddest of women. All the well known dope dealers from earlier Harlem, that was before my time they did it different. Like Fritz and Frank Matthews and we all know about Richard Porter, AZ, Guy Fisher just some real right stand up dudes.
WATCH “PAID IN FULL” VIDEO
Earlier this year you released “Langston’s Son” (on Black History Month), what in your life / mind-set prompted the creation of that project? What was the overall message you had in mind with that project?
“Langston’s Son” was a dope project fully produced by THE STANDOUTS. I’ve always been with this mindset my Grandmother had me reading Malcolm X and always teaching me what the teachers didn’t at school, making sure I stayed on point with my history as a young black man. Being that I had the name “Hughes” attached to me I felt it was perfect timing to show the people I’m here for the culture and can put my self in that mindset and give back knowledge.
What else are you working on at the moment?
As of late I’ve just been working on visuals for “Opulent Habits”. After releasing “Paid In Full” a lot of producers and artists reached out to me to work so just know 2021 looking amazing and can’t wait to share all that I’ve been working on.