RESPECT. had the opportunity to link up with Flex to catch up on his journey. Flex talks his life before the music and how it lead him to where he is today. Check out the interview below.
RESPECT.: Where did your name “Flex” come from?
The name Flex came about from a couple different things. When I was in high school around 11th/12th grade me and a few of my friends were making a team. Basically like a bunch of wavey trendy kids that always turned up in parties so we came up with the idea of trippy entertainment. From there we all had to get nicknames and what not. Something easy that everyone would know us by. So I came up with the Flex a little before I actually started using it as my rap name. My actual name is Julian. and after i went through puberty and shit my voice was madd deep. so every time someone would ask me whats my name is they would think I’m saying junior or some other shit beside julian. So I wanted something that was easily distinguishable but was related to me. People always new me in high school for having fly gear and always flexing. So I came up with the name flex from there.
RESPECT.: How long have you been rapping for?
I’ve been basically rapping for about 5 years. I started around 16 I started playing with sounds and recording, But it didn’t get serious until I was about 18. Thats when I knew this is what I wanted to do.
RESPECT.: Between rapping and producing, which one came more natural for you?
Rapping came more natural to me. When I started initially making music I would make covers of some of my favorite songs. I used to do remix’s a lot also. So I was mostly focused on rapping for the majority of my career. When I started to learn more about making music and working with other artist. I started to get more in touch with production. It gave me a lot more creative control on how I wanted things to sound and allowed me to portray my vision and thoughts exactly how i wanted them.
RESPECT.: When you first dropped the EP how nervous were you?
When I dropped my debut mixtape. I was nervous. Im not gunna front and act like I wasn’t. This was the first time that I was able to share something that I was creatively working on and passionate about. I wanted it to connect with people the same way in connected with me at the time that I made it.
RESPECT.: Were you worried that listeners weren’t going to give you the time of day?
I wasnt really nervous that people weren’t going to listen. People listen to wack shit everyday. I was more concerned of it being an accurate representation of my vision at the time.
RESPECT.: What is the deeper meaning behind your album ‘A Ride With Flex?’
A ride with flex is really a journey of my life. It was my welcoming. And I keep this theme going because I want people couple years from now to talk about it like. I was there from a ride with flex days. I remember when he was cooking up tracks in his home studio. I remember when he went to toronto shot a music video got kicked out and still turned up. I want people to feel like they were with me during this journey. Even if they were not physically there. I also wanted the people that helped in the making of this project feel as if it was a journey and that they all contributed to something collectively
RESPECT.: If you can name one track from the project to be you’re favorite which one would it be?
One track off the project that I would say is my favorite is “Worth It”. I think the energy and emotion that I put in that track always comes out when I play that track. but It was me really angry about shit that was going on from a personal standpoint. its crazy cause A lot of people have told me they connect with it also so its kinda dope that its relatable to other people also. I actually recorded this track the day before my birthday when we went out to toronto to shoot the HTSG music video.
RESPECT.: Coming out of Long Island did you have to face any of the day-to-day trials and tribulations as most MC’s do?
Not sure what you mean by day to day trials. but if your asking me if I had struggles. Yea ofcoruse I did. I wasn’t homeless and didn’t have food or something like that. But I faced my own set of obstacles that pertain to my life. i think everyone goes through shit. Its just relative to whats going on in your world.
RESPECT.: You recently dropped a couple new tracks, one being a remix to Kehlani’s “Keep On.” Why’d you choose this track to hop on? Was there a message you were trying to relay to the public?
Yeah so the kehlani keep on track was something really special to me. I’ve always been a big fan of her work since cloud 19 days. So I’m always watching out for her new music and what not. So when she dropped her last album I was giving it a listen and this track “Keep on” spoke to me. I felt her passion and it was as if she was talking right to me. So I responded to everything she said. So I came up with a concept of having the remix be a coversation between me and kehlani through a phone call. So I put effects on my albs to make it sound like we were having this conversation over the phone and what not. It came out pretty dope I think. I really want to get that song to her camp and see if she rocks with it.
RESPECT.: Alongside “Keep On” you also released “Understand Me” which really touches the heart. Were you in a relationship prior to the track?
Understand Me is an interesting track. I’m currently in a relationship and I also was when I was writing the song. but I wasn’t writing the song from my current perspective or position. I was writing the song about a situation that occurred when I was younger. So it was cool being able to reflect on the situation and create a song from it.
RESPECT.: Who did you listen to frequently growing up that helped you evolve as a singer/rapper? Can you name three main influencers?
Growing Up i listened to a ton of music from my dad playing al jerreau to george benson. From my mom playing Micheal Jackson, and Seal. I’ve got a diverse ear for music. But 3 guys I think that really influenced me in music would be michael jackson kanye west, usher. I think these guys definitely helped paved the way for the way I create music today.
RESPECT.: How was it being featured on The Hip-Hop Showcase (season Two)? Aside from performing for the Suny Buffalo African Student Association fashion show, what type of an experience was it for you?
I actually performed at the HipHopSeazon a long time ago. This was when I was like 18 years old. I had a few songs out on soundcloud and I wanted start performing and testing these songs out in the public and see the reception. I was young and was still finding my sound so I think the HipHopSeazon showcase was more of a stepping stone that really lifted me up to the next point of my music journey.
RESPECT.: How’d you get to open for Gun Play?
One of my close friends thats unfortunately no longer with us due to a crazy car accident got me that opportunity. He was involved with party promotions and he had plugged me in with the showcase and told me it was a opener for Gun Play and that a few MMG executives would be there. I took that opportunity and performed It was definitely an experience. That was my first time ever performing.
RESPECT.: Aside from singles that you’ve been dropping, should we be expecting a new project anytime soon in 2017?
Yeah definitely. I’m currently in the process of putting a sequel to a ride with flex. It definitely will be out summer 17. Its going to be my best work to date. I’m really focused on making it a cohesive project that you can listen front to back and feel like you went on another journey. So stay tuned.