"Why should I believe in you / Instead of me?"
After releasing his critically-acclaimed debut full-length Salem in March of 2014, Flex The Antihero slowed his roll. There was a song release here, a video release there, but for the most part, the Toronto native remained quiet. Until now.
Earlier this week, Flex released "Pray," the first single off his forthcoming album Born Rebels, which shows he's poised for potential greatness.
Produced and mixed by frequent Flex collaborator Emerson Brooks, "Pray" is the equivalent of Fire Mario from Super Mario Bros.
After listening to the record for nearly two straight hours, I caught up with Flex to discuss the track and the inspiration behind it.
“‘Pray’ is essentially letting go of myself and all confines of the world," he told me. "I want to see it all before I go, meaning I don't want to feel forced to be influenced by any [one] thing.”
Flex and “Pray” feel entirely new yet ultimately familiar. The rawness, the emotion, the ambiance and the execution make the song feel bigger than the sum of its parts. There's an urgency to the track, and to Flex himself, who sounds like he's rhyming as much for himself as for the listener. And that's important.
"We don't live forever so / I gotta see it all before I go"
Flex is confident in his conflictions and is capable of allowing the gorgeous Brooks production to breathe on its own. There's a lot going on here, but it's all spaced out beautifully.
For his part, Brooks continues to solidify his name as a premier producer, crafting beats specifically for the themes of each project and songs he’s involved with. “Pray” is no different.
“Emerson works closely with me to evoke a certain mood out of my records and always finds it during the mix downs," explained Flex.
This is high-level musicianship crafted by two supremely confident artists. The vocal manipulations are subtle but poignant. The lyrics are introspective, but relatable - dealing with faith, morality and individuality in a melancholy but ultimately inspiring delivery.
“The song reflects a lot of what the album contains, which is topics of living a life not seen as the norm. Less structure, more trial and error," said Flex.
As part of The Antiheroes, Flex and Sha Prince previously delivered two stellar projects: This Is FreeDUMB, from January of '12, and Modern Day Riot, from May of '13 - an especially dope, full-length album which contains “Understand,” a record I've kept in steady rotation for the past three years.
Now set to release his second solo effort in October, Flex sounds as confident as ever. “If you think this is good, I'm telling you - there are some gems on this project, I made sure of it.”
We believe you, Flex.
By Matteo Urella, a Boston-based writer. Read more of his work at Medium.
Photo Credit: Maggie Elizabeth