When a new rap artist steps on to the scene, order the general populace usually takes notice, pharmacy sings along, and (maybe) makes a Facebook status or two out of the clearest hook. When Theophilus London emerged with This Charming Mixtape in 2009, critics raised brows as fans flocked to see the newcomer whose New York/retro-funk musical style and love of high fashion was a refreshing break from the “hipster” affected mainstream. Following in the footsteps of his influences, artists like Michael Jackson and Prince, it seems impossible that Theophilus London could be anything short of a musical barrier breaker.

Theophilus London rap artist LVRS designer Photo Credit: Style.com

A Trinidadian by birth, Brooklyn-raised TL managed to market himself to the upper echelons of the fashion world before releasing his first album. Though some critics protested his giant leap from shoestring artist to Lanvin-clad, GQ celebrated star, TL’s philosophy for fast but lasting success has paired him in collaborative efforts with stars like A$AP Rocky and Solange Knowles, as well as major design houses like Gucci.

Theophilus London rap artist LVRS designer musician Rose Island Vol. 1

Mixing genres is TL’s specialty. Timez Are Weird These Days (2012), released only three years after his mix tape, recognized his ability to blur the lines between rap, rock, and funk, without losing their namesake strengths. His latest release (available for free download), Rose Island, is a perfect example of TL’s ability to revamp ’80’s new wave tracks like Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days,” or conjure a formidable army of emotional lyrics complemented by the vocals of Marvin Gaye. TL’s slow-groove, R&B cover of Pharrell’s “Take It Off” with Blood Orange shows his versatility as a vocalist, and “Love is More Red” featuring siren of smooth jazz, Sade, is a Fugees-esque track perfect for that late-night drive through the city. In three short years, TL has shown himself to be a talented artist and self-made style icon, designing his own LVRS line and performing during the Fall 2012 New York Fashion Week.

Theophilus London rap artist LVRS designer Photo Credit: Style.com

Theophilus London is on the lineup for this year’s CounterPoint Music Festival, bringing along the live guitars, drums, synths, and turntables that are sure to make a deeper impression than a simple backing track and unnecessary entourage. Fans who were in attendance for his performance at the SXSW 2012 Festival know to expect the power-packed lyrical punches of “Last Name London,” and the rhythmic beats of “Morning Kisses” or “Humdrum Town.” While you bounce back and forth to the beat, keep an eye on TL’s ensemble: you can’t afford to miss any details where this fashionable maverick is concerned.

 written by Rachel Margaritis