Thursday, June 1, 2006
The bell rings, signaling the end of class at Los Arboles Middle School in Marina, and the beginning of a rap concert. DJ E-Z Cutt starts blaring an R&B pop song from a pair of large speakers on the ground and four speakers mounted on the top of the school’s Raymond S. Isakson Library. Quickly, a small lawn located in front of the building fills with eager students.
Cutt grabs a microphone and asks the crowd, now numbering a couple hundred, if they know who is performing today. “Yeah,” the crowd roars back.
“Who?” Cutt asks.
“Lil’ Jordan!” the crowd screams as the 8-year-old Marina rap artist comes out of the library onto a concrete patio. Wearing a black sports jersey with his name and the number “23” on it, the tiny vocalist says, “What up, Los Arboles?” before launching into his first song, “2 the Top.”
While deftly delivering lines like “You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen, man/ I’m 8 years old with the power like He-Man,” Jordan Eugenio stalks the patio, occasionally pausing to dance. As a few kids dance along with him and a handful of girls scream, Jordan looks like a polished rap artist on MTV who has been crammed into a 4-foot frame.
After the tune, Cutt introduces the middle school’s special needs students, which include Jordan’s brother Joshua. Then Jordan starts his next number, “Next Generation.” The studio version of the song features a few lines by legendary Bay Area rap artist Too Short, and today, as Too Short’s rhymes play over the speakers, Jordan entertains the crowd with a few dance moves. At other times, Jordan interjects “yeahs” and “ohs” into the song like a seasoned professional.
The performance then swerves further into the surreal as eight school kids join Jordan onstage for his next jam, “Golf Man Dance.” While the pint-sized entertainer encourages the kids onstage to “Do it, do the Golf Man Dance,” the kids behind him do a dance that includes the swinging of an imaginary golf club back and forth.
Knowing the crowd needs a little more, Jordan and Cutt then placate the masses with the slow jam “My Puppy Luv,” which includes lyrics about matching Spongebob backpacks. Now, the female dancers from the last song sit on chairs as Jordan croons to them. While students clap along to the beat, Jordan appears totally in his element. When the number ends, Jordan says, “Peace out” as girls scream and boys clap enthusiastically.
Following the four-song show, Cutt announces that Jordan will be able to sign some autographs, and what seems like the whole school immediately rushes the young lyricist. Jordan signs notebook covers, sheets of wide-ruled loose-leaf paper and backpacks.
• • •
The quick rise of Lil’ Jordan began just nine months ago. Back then, Jordan’s dad, Johnny Eugenio, wanted to create a song for his son Joshua, who has Down Syndrome, which would educate other children about kids with disabilities. For the song, which is titled “Swing for the Dream,” Johnny teamed up with Bay Area music producer Gennessee Lewis. At Johnny’s urging, Lil’ Jordan rapped a few lines. After witnessing Lil’ Jordan’s contribution, Lewis says that he realized the 8-year-old was “pure talent.”
Since then, Lil’ Jordan has recorded 15 more songs with Lewis and two other producers named One Drop Scott and Cozmo. Even more impressive is the fact that Bay Area rapper Mistah FAB and industry legend Too Short have appeared on Lil’ Jordan’s songs. Johnny says that his son will hopefully drop his debut album, titled Are You Ready For Me? this July or August.
In addition to recruiting some high-profile studio guests, Lil’ Jordan has performed in front of some notable celebrities. This past March, Lil’ Jordan played a number at the Michael Irvin’s Celebrity Golf Tournament in Florida, rapping his song “2 the Top” in front of former NFL football standouts Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders.
According to Johnny, a district manager for Farmers Insurance, Lil’ Jordan might become known for more than music. Johnny says that he recently pitched a reality show, titled The Making of a Lil’ Rapper, to Fox Television.
Right now, Lil’ Jordan says he has a simple reason for rapping in front of crowds like the kids at Los Arboles.
“I just like it cause I get to perform in front of people,” he says. “They get to know me.”
Meanwhile, his father Johnny has decidedly bigger plans for Lil’ Jordan. “We are going to have good lyrics,” he says, “and change the world.”
Check out Lil’ Jordan’s songs at myspace.com/liljordaneugenio.