Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Adele… LMFAO? One of this summer’s biggest radio hitmakers is not like the others.
Not only have the goofy electro-rap duo gone from being near-unknowns to landing the No. 1 song in the country three weeks running (the manic, addictive good-times directive ”Party Rock Anthem”), the pair are also the only uncle-nephew act — both scions of a music-industry icon, no less — in the history of Billboard to top the Hot 100.
But more on that later. On this sunny July afternoon at their home studio on the edge of L.A.’s posh Hollywood Hills, Afroed leader Redfoo (a.k.a. Stefan Gordy), 35, is demonstrating a pillar of their patented ”party rock” lifestyle: the dance known as shufflin’.
”It’s a tap dance,” explains the high-energy Redfoo, while crazily propelling himself in a faux-sozzled manner past LMFAO’s more demure half, Sky Blu (Skyler Gordy), 24, and a couch littered with sundry pretty young things. ”You can do anything while shufflin’. You can shuffle like this,” he continues, gyrating through various incarnations, ”or like this… You could shuffle all night long through the next day.”
As you might imagine, shufflin’ figures prominently in LMFAO’s club-scene vibe — one that first earned them minor hits like 2009’s ”Get Crazy” (which was used, fittingly, as the theme song for MTV’s Jersey Shore). Growing up, though, the two were in decidedly different company: Redfoo is the youngest of the eight children of legendary Motown founder Berry Gordy, 81, and Sky Blu is Berry’s grandson by his firstborn son, Berry Gordy IV. When Redfoo was a kid, he remembers, ”Smokey [Robinson] would be singing at Thanksgiving. That was normal. We weren’t starstruck by the Motown family. Maybe Michael Jackson.”
Although the Gordy family was concerned about LMFAO’s dreams of pop stardom, they came around after the two were signed with the help of friend and mentor will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and found some early success, Sky Blu recalls. ”I was in trouble because I didn’t go to college. Now we’re the favorites,” he says with a smirk. In fact, Berry regularly consults with the pair. ”He likes to talk about the psychology of it,” Redfoo says. When LMFAO were doing well in Europe but not yet in America, Berry advised them bluntly to get a publicist. ”’No one knows you’re number one here!’ he told us,” Redfoo recalls. ”He said, ‘What’s your campaign?”’
Soon enough, they did hit Stateside — and garnered some left-field celebrity fans. ”Debbie Harry said that she made her [upcoming] album based on LMFAO,” Redfoo says of the legendary Blondie frontwoman. ”Jamie Foxx [starred in] one of our videos. Paris Hilton is a big fan. She’s actually a big reason we’re here today, because she would play our music in front of TMZ when she would drive around.”
Not every boldfaced name, however, has climbed aboard the LMFAO love train. In February 2010, Sky Blu had an in-flight altercation with current Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney over a prematurely reclined seat. In the end, Sky Blu was escorted off the plane by authorities. ”I was in the wrong, because I put my seat [back],” he explains. ”He was in the wrong because he Vulcan-gripped my shoulder.” (Romney told David Letterman last year that he merely ”tapped” him.) ”But we’re friends now,” says Sky Blu, joking, ”I think I saw him at our last show in disguise, with a raincoat and a big hat.”
Ultimately, says Redfoo, there’s not much mystery to their method. ”One of the secrets to our music, and it’s not so much a secret, is the feeling that it gives people. They may make fun of the lyrics — ‘Party rockers in the house tonight/Everybody just have a good time.’ Where’s the genius in that? But that’s really what we mean: Everybody just have a good time.”