Boston-raised producer, singer, and musician Johan Lenox performed at the Mercury Lounge, a small but iconic Lower East Side venue for upcoming independent artists, on May 26th for a crowd of eager fans, many of whom had been closely following his rise to fame through social media platforms like Twitter and Discord. For many fans, the evening started at Two Boots Pizza in the East Village, where a group made up predominantly of young aspiring creatives, ranging from rappers and producers to photographers and music journalists, all gathered to meet and greet. But Johan made the “meet-and-greet” feel like an intimate gathering with friends, as he went around sparking up conversation with everyone and introducing people to each other. He has created a community that supports and uplifts each other as artists, including himself – many of the attendees knew him through his Discord, where he gives artists and producers advice on their music and even hosts beat battles.
He then led the group to the concert venue, which was a short walk away – there were jokes that we resembled a group of kindergartners being walked down the street, and that we needed a rope for guidance. A few minutes after arriving, the venue began to fill. He had two opening acts before going onstage: Toby Season and Akinyemi, both of whom had distinctive sounds. The two young performers brought a lot of excitement and warmed up the crowd with high-energy rap, as well as some more mellow interludes.
When Johan came onstage, the crowd enthusiastically cheered and clapped. He possesses a unique sound that is predominantly pop with hip-hop and R&B undertones, as well as a heavy classical music influence. On stage he talked about how much classical music impacted his life growing up; he trained as a composer who attended Yale to study orchestral composition, and has composed music for professional orchestras. There were two extremely talented female violinists performing with him throughout his set, and throughout the night the genres were so beautifully blended to create a unique concert experience. He is truly a jack of all musical trades, and each song flexed a new muscle of his extensive skill and knowledge of the craft. As for the content of his songs, he summarized by saying that he “writes songs about doing our best while the world is on fire.”
Throughout the performance he also mentioned working with artists like Kanye West and Travis Scott, and eventually brought out on stage Mr. Hudson, a British producer, writer, and musician who has worked with and been featured on songs with many impressive names in the music industry, including Kanye, Jay-Z, and Kid Cudi, and is probably most well-known for his feature on Jay-Z’s “Young Forever.” He and Johan collaborated on one of the songs from Johan’s latest album, WDYWTBWYGU, called “Burning Sky.” The crowd went wild when he appeared, and the two performed a few songs together, including “Burning Sky.” Johan finished off the concert by performing his most popular song, “You Up?”. The concert eventually ended and the crowd dispersed, but not before lining up to thank him for an amazing concert.