Hip-hop and R&B filled the air as students crowded onto the UC patio to support Justin Pack, Lauren “Lo” Copeland, Tumi Lengoasa and Imari Conway, aka FirexSquad, at their first showcase of the school year.
Following the Canes’ big win against FSU Oct. 7, the show began with the group’s song “Fuego,” which features all four artists. As the performance progressed, the collective highlighted each member’s individual talents with solo performances.
The four members met at UM. Founding members, Lengoasa, Pack and Conway came together while filming a video for “Keep Pushing,” a song Conway wrote about the pain of losing his grandmother.
Copeland said she entered the collective a little differently. Conway reached out to her through text message, and Copeland agreed to join and said she never looked back.
Three years after the collective began, the members have experienced difficulty and satisfaction in the music world.
“FirexSquad is the love child of a few wholesome friendships from freshman year,” Lengoasa said. “It’s been an interesting journey.”
Conway flew in from Maryland, his hometown, since he is taking the semester off.
He hyped up the crowd, delivering a high energy performance of his song “Sober,” to which many in the audience knew the lyrics.
Conway has always been musically inclined, learning to play the piano at only 4 years old.
“I grew up in the church and played classical and jazz piano,” Conway said. “I then gravitated toward hip-hop and R&B. I feel like my fans and friends connect most with my soul music that makes you feel something.”
Copeland, whose parents flew in from Chicago to see her perform, slowed things down after Conway’s performance with sweet and intimate love songs.
She performed three songs, including “Nicotine,” which she plans to release as her first single.
“I don’t remember not making music,” Copeland said.
Lengoasa took the stage next – under the stage name “Na’im,” meaning pleasant and tranquil.
“Na’im is exactly how I want people to feel when listening to my music,” Lengoasa said.
He performed a mixture of rap and dancehall-inspired music that got the audience dancing.
“I was probably making music in the womb,” Lengoasa said. “I came from a musical family, I started producing and playing guitar when I was about 12. The combination gave me a jumpstart to begin writing more of my own music.”
Pack closed the show, performing his single “Wave,” which he officially released Oct. 9.
Unlike the rest of the collective, he said he didn’t start pursuing music until he was 15 years old.
“I started off playing guitar and doing spoken word poetry,” Pack said. “Then I started rapping and fell in love. Music became my everything.”
Though each musician has a distinct sound, all members agree the music comes from a very vulnerable place.
“When I first started, I got inspiration from a very difficult time in my life,” Conway said. “I needed to share my pain.”
Though no one can be sure what exactly comes next, this isn’t the last we’ll hear FirexSquad.
“FirexSquad till the day I die,” the members said.
To read more about FirexSquad, check out Esther Ponce de Leon’s article on the group when it was first founded as FireSquad Collective.