Social media personality Lij Tafari makes ‘Lijitimate’ move into music

The line “Dis a di season like a Maggie a di sponsor” did its rounds on social media, with hopes that one day it would become an actual track. Lij Tafari Smith did us one better. Not only did he complete the song, he released a music video for good measure. 

The social media-influencer-turned-recording artiste, going by the moniker Lijitimate, told The Gleaner that he has always had a love for music. “Music has always been something very close and dear to me,” said Lijitimate. So much so that his mother said a young Lij would perform for his late grandmother on a tabletop. “She said I used to sing and mimic Erykah Badu, and since then, I’ve always loved singing and performing,” he added. 

So how did his love explode into a career in music? His response: purely by chance. Last year during the global pandemic, he created a YouTube channel and decided that he would provide an original 20-second vocal clip for the introduction. His friends and followers on social media were so impressed when they heard the mini soundtrack that they encouraged him to transform it into a full song. He obliged, telling them at the time that he would. But it was all fun and jokes for Smith until a music producer named Donval heard his voice and advised him to seriously consider music. 

“He gave me a riddim and challenged me to make a song, just for leisure.” In making the song, he fell in love with the lyrics, and that’s when it was confirmed that this move into music was going places beyond recreational purposes. The Lij Tafari, known and loved for his antics on social media, was now stepping into brand-new territory: life in the studio and on set shooting his own music video.

His song speaks to celebrating who you are and your journey, not comparing it to anyone. So, it was fitting that it be titled SZN. “[It’s] your season of greatness. It also speaks about how no one can take what is for you because it is uniquely yours,” he shared.

Produced by JimmyQJa and mastered by Anthony Records, Lij Tafari is grateful for their work and mentorship during the last couple of months leading up to the song’s première. Initially he had recorded the song unofficially in Japan, but they advised him to return to his roots to re-record. He hadn’t been home for the last two years since moving to the East Asian country, but he travelled halfway back across the world to make his dreams a reality. “I wanted everything to feel and be done right for my first song, and I felt like I could only achieve that in Jamaica.” 

Upon his arrival, Tafari was mentored by Ifidel Williams in the studio. From there, he became ‘Lijitimate’ in his musical career. For the music video, he worked with director Tyler Crane of Studio Life Productions and calls it an “incredible experience”. “His team was a beast on the day of the music video. We shot all of this in 12 hours, and it’s crazy thinking about it now,” he said. 

His Jamaican friends played the leads because he desired to incorporate people who looked like him and matched his level of passion. “Since the video was shot in Japan, it was necessary to show the wider world the diversity among creatives here,” he added. 

Leading up to and since the première of SZN on Friday, Lijitimate has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. “It’s really amazing to see what I was able to do, especially since I wasn’t even thinking about music as a career a year ago.” He found it incredible to witness what his little but tallawah team could achieve. It all paid off, and he is beyond blessed for the creative collaborations.

As a teacher, social-media personality, master of ceremonies, fashion icon, and now singjay, we asked: is there anything that Lij Tafari Smith cannot do? According to the multi-hyphenate, he ‘lijitimately’ cannot dance. “I just really try to make time for everything. It’s usually not hard, but when it does get hard, I sleep, recuperate and go again. I try to take time with myself.”

He hopes to continue taking charge of his SZN and explore all the opportunities as they present themselves: one of them, he says, must work. As it pertains to music, he would like to expand his team and learn more about the industry. 

SZN is available on all major platforms. Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and the music video is out now on the Lijitimate YouTube channel.

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