Chicago’s lemonxde80s ‘stuck to the plan’ on his way back to rap

Blossoming Chicago rapper lemonxde80s has been working towards his moment for over a decade, “sticking to the plan” every step of the way.

CHICAGO — Walking into a perfectly hidden, spacious warehouse on the corner of North Pulaski Street, a dimly-lit table sat in the center of the hustle and bustle of Round 3‘s newest shoot. Toy cars, action figures and other props scattered across the blueprints for the video’s Ocean’s Twelve concept, as Chicago rapper lemonxde80s seemingly pulled off something greater than a heist in his breakout effort.

With a captivating aura and an energy irreplaceable within the city’s soundscape, Toye (known as lemonxde80s) has spent the last decade fully pursuing his dreams. Inspired by the likes of Lil Wayne, Drake, Kanye West and many others, the Nigerian-American artist’s passion for music started at just 12-years-old — writing raps alongside his brother, better known as (Tayo). Initially working as a collective under the moniker Planet Brother, it wasn’t until 2020 that lemonxde80s started putting his solo plans in motion — seizing the moment by serving honestly potent bars meshed with his unequivocal uniqueness.

Now, it’s Toye’s time shine, evading the naysayers — and lasers — on his narratively-driven single “Stick To The Plan.”

Cultivated by the grandiose visions of co-directors Chris Vergara and Joe Bracero, lemonxde80s’ “Stick To The Plan” has certainly been a long time coming. Bedding his aspirations in a voice memo from 2016, the Chicago native’s solo ventures center around the “character” he’s created — a suave, suit-clad, calculated hitman on his way to rap acclaim.

“This is the second video I’ve done with this character. In the first video, “Open This Later,” he had to essentially kill off his past self to become who he is. Now, he’s ready to take everything that he’s been dreaming of — and that’s what this song is about. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I say in the song ‘I’ve been doing this for a decade now.’ I’m really just saying that I’m ready now. I’m here. I’m not waiting for handouts ready to take it. “Stick To the Plan” was perfect [to convey that]. This time, I was ready to face all the hiccups that came my way. I had a vision and stuck to it.”

lemonxde80s to Our Generation Music

Bonding this character with his self-driven motivation for success, the “hiccups” have only made lemonxde80s stronger at the end of it all. Facing a slew of problems on set — one being Round 3’s director of photography falling ill the day of the shoot — both Vergara and Bracero were as ready as lemonxde80s to tackle it, sidestepping a “sudden change in plans” that Bracero received in a fortune cookie a day before.

“I don’t think I could have been that level-headed without the people on set,” Vergara said. “Knowing that everyone there had good energy and good spirits is what got us through it. We have such a family atmosphere, and we really want to cultivate long-lasting experiences for everyone involved.”

“We knew it would work,” Bracero added of the visual’s eye-catching laser scenes. “I just started taping mirrors to the pillars of the factory inside the warehouse we shot at — shining them and reflecting them all over — just pretty much finding angles. It was all about figuring out this one thing, and it really came together at the end.”

While lemonxde80s mentioned that he was ready to face the challenges that came at him, the missteps that brought him to this point have inadvertently made him into the artist he is today. Dropping three full-length projects and a plethora of singles with his brother over the years, 2018 is where lemonxde80s felt he was at his wit’s end. Striving to find clarity away from the studio, he hit the reset button — venturing to Nigeria for the first time in over 20 years, unsure if he would return with the same musical mindset he had once before.

“I just felt burnt out. I was like, ‘I just don’t want to do this anymore, I need to take a break.’ I thought to myself that if took some time away, I’d feel it again. I thought it was gonna be short — maybe just take a two to three months off to kind of collect myself. But it turned out to be a little over a year. That was the longest I’ve ever gone without making music. The longer I was in Africa, the more I was getting worried because I started having thoughts like: ‘Am I ever gonna come back to making music?'”

lemonxde80s to OGM

Fortunately for lemonxde80s, he broke through his funk plaguing his creative juices — slowly getting back into the swing of things that would catapult him to a refreshed, rejuvenated state, saying he “started to see the vision” in what he wanted to do. Finding a renewed inspiration for his art, he let his faith take control of his fate — allowing God to bring forth the opportunities he was destined to seize.

Sticking to his plan, lemonxde80s aspirations became much clearer after working with his brother on his solo project, WE MET IN 2025, in 2020. Seeing Tayo’s passion and refined talent for the craft, it had reignited a fire within Toye, as the Chicago brothers’ bond is something that only pushed him to not only become a better person, but a better artist.

“I was so proud of him,” he said of his brother. “Through him, I started to see what I could do now as an artist… I was proud of him for taking this journey with me because for a long time, I would have to convince him to make music. I had to literally force him when we were younger. We pushed each other. I always thought he was a better rapper than me — I always knew he was better. After that, I found it again — that spark. I found my groove and knew what I wanted to do now, and it felt good knowing that.”

“Stick To the Plan” sees lemonxde80s standing tall in the face of adversity — viscerally spitting over uplifting woozy keys, hypnotic vocal chops and an instantly infectious drum pattern. Complementing the beat’s deep-rooted 808s, it feels as if lemonxde80s floats over his verses with both a determined focus and hunger to take what he rightfully deserves.

Narrative at its core, he raps about how he “opens up his third eye” to see the bigger picture — among other things — fighting to attain the recognition he’s worked so long for. The visual is equally as grand and immersive, setting the stage for lemonxde80s to portray the character he was meant to play — fully engulfing viewers into the heist he takes lead on.

“I’m in my moment. I feel like my vision is clear, and I feel like this is the most clear I’ve ever been as an artist. It may sound cliche, but I stuck to my plan. I’m in a flow state now. Yeah, I would’ve liked [to have had this] five years ago, but maybe I wasn’t ready for it then — wasn’t emotionally, or mentally ready to take this on. So now, I’ve grown up. I’ve seen things and am better person because of it, and God willing, success will follow.”

Lemonxde80s to OGM

Ultimately, everything happens for a reason, as lemonxde80s can drive off in the distance knowing that his story was written the way it was supposed to be.

Check out Lemonxde80s new single, visual for “Stick To The Plan” below!

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