Lyrikill.com Bumrushes South Florida TV Reporters
The lanky 20-something white kid crouches behind some shrubs outside an office building. He wears chest-length black dreads stuffed under a striped "Alcatraz" hat and appears to be playing soldier on a sunny January afternoon in downtown Fort Lauderdale. "This is how we do," whispers the rapper, who calls himself Lyrikill.com. "We stake it out, and then if you look right over these bushes, you can see they 'bout to go live... And when they go live, that's when we hop out these bushes."
He's speaking into a digital video camera held by a rotund fellow who goes by "Doughboy," Lyrikill.com's self-proclaimed "sound engineer and bodyguard." Lyrikill.com uses his cell phone to tweet his followers that they should turn on their TV sets. Then he springs into action.
On a nearby corner, WPLG (Channel 10) reporter Jen Herrera, an officious brunet, is on the 6 p.m. news. She's describing a Broward County Commission corruption scandal. About ten seconds into the live segment, the rapper scurries behind her and screams, "Power 96!" — the radio station running a video contest. He's also hoisting an upside-down sign and wearing a homemade T-shirt that both read "Lyrikill.com."
Herrera is flustered. Producers cut to a still shot of the commissioner in question, but the rapper's incessant shouts can be heard. The segment ends, and Herrera growls at the kid: "Seriously? What's that about?"
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He sheepishly assures her: "It's nothing personal — I do this to everybody" and adds that she is "very beautiful."
"You know what?" she fumes. "It is personal, because this is my job, and this is my career. Get the hell out of here."
Then she adds, "You pop your head into everything."
Eventually, the rapper and a giggling Doughboy rumble away. They've been bum-rushing live newscasts for three years. So far, they've ruined the workdays of about two dozen members of the miked-lapel-and-perfect-hair set. Most of his victims are employed by WSVN (Channel 7).
Though he attempts to keep his true identity mysterious, the guy is not exactly Keyser Söze. State records reveal he is 26-year-old Jordan Michael Seitz, who lives in an apartment on NE 18th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. He has registered Lyrikill.com as a domain name, created a matching logo, and incorporated his own record label, 95 4 Sho Ent, LLC.
Seitz's best-known song is "I Love My Hooptie," an ode to beat-up cars. But he's far more famous for his newscast raids than his music. A few of his greatest hits, which are mostly available on YouTube:
• In February 2007, he moonwalks while holding a sign and dodging traffic on a downtown Fort Lauderdale street while WSVN's Adam Williams covers the court battle over Anna Nicole Smith's daughter.
• August 2008: "Yo, don't grab me," Seitz can be heard telling a crew member as he appears behind WSVN's Richard Jordan, who's standing on the beach and attempting to report on Tropical Storm Fay.
• In January 2008, WSVN's Rosh Lowe is in front of O.J. Simpson's Kendall home when Seitz, talking on his cell phone, sidles up close enough to breathe on the reporter's neck. Then the rapper unfolds a sign from his back pocket and is chased by a burly crew member.
• In August 2009, Seitz joins a swarm of reporters surrounding the car of Alexandra Torrens-Vilas, recently framed by Hollywood Police officers for a traffic accident they actually caused. Holding his own microphone to Torrens-Vilas' face, he repeatedly screams, "Lyrikill-dot-com!" until WSVN reporter Nicole Linsalata grabs him and he's shoved away.
• The same month, a WPLG crew member, while setting up a courthouse newscast involving Torrens-Villas, hides a rock behind his back and dares the rapper to come closer. Seitz recruits some nearby high schoolers to distract the crewman so he can get in the shot. Remarkably, the plot works.
Seitz's Bay of Pigs moment came November 17, 2008, when a WSVN crew member took offense to Seitz's presence on a set in front of Simpson's house — and was clearly shown, on live television, trying to whack the invader with a metal pole. Seitz filed a report with Miami-Dade police against the crew member, later identified as 68-year-old Pedro Tellez, but then declined to pursue aggravated assault charges. Tellez couldn't be reached for comment. Said WSVN public service coordinator Lily Pardo: "We really do not want to participate in this story."
In fact, it's nearly impossible to get news producers to acknowledge Seitz on the record. "It's a free country, and we're filming in public places," WPLG Vice President Bill Pohovey remarks timidly. The station's assistant news director, Steve Owen, is more forthcoming: "Honestly, if I say anything about him to you, I'm giving him what he wants, which is more publicity."
On a recent weekday, the renegade rapper meets with New Times at a Whole Foods Market in Fort Lauderdale. He resembles a Caucasian Lil Wayne sans face tattoos. He wears a neon-green sweatshirt emblazoned with his rap name, hot-pink shoes, and Jackie Onassis sunglasses.
He says he began freestyling when he was 6 years old, attended predominantly black Stranahan High School, and has a bachelor's degree in advertising from Tallahassee's Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. He has promoted his rap career by buying ad time on MTV and BET. He often wears his cell phone number in neon-lit numerals around his neck and sells his mixtapes in Ziploc bags for a dollar on the street.
Both music and self-promotion are in his genes. His father is Steve Seitz, frontman for the '60s-era Fort Lauderdale garage band the Invaders. The group was famous for a tour van plastered with the Invaders' logo and constantly blaring the band's music.
But Jordan Seitz is cagey about anything not "music-related." After refusing to give his name, he hints at a shady past, complaining vaguely about "cops busting into [his] house without a warrant." But his criminal record in South Florida is limited to three speeding tickets. He also inexplicably claims to be 24 when he's in fact two years older. He's dismayed to hear New Times will publicize his true identity. "At this point in my career," he explains, "I just don't think it's smart for me to put my name out there."
Still, New Times wants to know: Why does he do it? Why does he violate the space of all those poor, well-groomed reporters?
"If you do a great song and nobody knows you did a song...," he ruminates. "Out of sight, out of mind, you know?"
About four years ago, he was watching a Miami Heat game on television when he noticed a group of male fans behind the sportscasters' booth "trying to punch each other in their nuts."
"I was like, What the hell are they doing? And the amazing part was the TV people couldn't do anything about it," he says.
Inspired, he spelled his rap name in masking tape on yellow posterboard in February 2007 and headed to a media encampment outside the Broward County Courthouse during the fracas over Anna Nicole Smith's daughter. Judge Larry Seidlin had burst into tears in court. Seitz spent the evening dancing between live shots and dodging hurled bottles of water. "I felt like the judge had already turned it into a circus," he explained. "So I said, 'Let me jump in that circus too.' "
His techniques have become more sophisticated. When live news crews head to a scene, he says, "inside people" now tip him off. He refuses to elaborate, but considering his affinity for WSVN newscasts, that station might seriously consider a mole sweep.
He calls TV reporters "ambulance chasers" and expresses no remorse. "Do you think O.J. Simpson wants them camped outside his house?" he says. "They don't give a shit. I'm just doing the same thing to them."
In mid-January, the stations struck back by contacting YouTube. All of his precious videos were taken offline because he had spliced in studio-owned footage from the newscasts he raided. WPLG's Pohovey says reporting Seitz to YouTube was nothing personal: "My issue is copyright."
But less than a week later, the rapper reuploaded the videos, this time using footage he filmed of the TV footage. He believes that's now legal. "They think they're smarter than me, but they're not," he declares. "I won't give up."
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