There is no doubt that the budding Delaware Hip-Hop scene is on the rise. A true testament to this is a phenomenal trio of 18-year-olds who, after less than three years of performing professionally, have major labels in a bidding war; a position that is enviable by all accounts even if you're a fan of the independents. Even with the ever-changing face of the music industry a bidding war still grants the artists leverage in negotiating their deal.
FlowCity is also courting a production deal with major producers, but they wish to keep that under wraps until it is official, so as not to jinx it. The Dover-based threesome, currently setting the 302 on fire, is an alternative Hip-Hop group with two male members and one female, who some will quite naturally compare to The Fugees. Other than the group's boys-to-girl makeup, there are no other obvious comparisons. Female member, Brown Suga, who is a big fan of Lauryn Hill, nonetheless, provides a stark contrast to the soulful and ethnic Hill with an edgy rocked out look, complete with mohawk and the persona to match.
Shorty Rock, who also acts as producer, is suave and doesn't tote around a guitar, nor do any of them profess to be the super socially-conscious group. In fact, they don't mind referring to their music as "Hip-Pop" and just want to make feel good music, says Nino NoSay, who is a wild card onstage in his own right and fun to watch. Overall, their chemistry is considered incredible by their fans. FlowCity has been building a groundswell in central and Southern Delaware, and have even performed in other states in the region for nearly three years.
It seems that two particular events suddenly and permanently etched FlowCity's place in the minds of fans and artists of the more street credible Wilmington music scene. FlowCity won a coveted spot to open for major artists at KISS-FM Spring Jam 2011 before 1,300 screaming fans. Then, the group brought down the house and stole the show at The Mind Ur Business Music Conference in July. Where the newness of the first time event may have brought doubt and uncertainty, FlowCity's energetic and seasoned performance of their most popular song “Hold It Down” surprised and excited the crowd, enhancing the overall event experience and supercharging their buzz. AllHipHop.com caught up with FlowCity to learn more:
AllHipHop.com: How did you get started in music, as individuals and as a group?
Shorty Rock: I guess you can say I started at the age of 11. I went to buy a game at the mall, and I found this game called Music Maker for PlayStation 2. I made a beat and Brown Sug wrote a rap to it and that was it … love at first sound [laughter]!
Brown Suga: I've been writing music since I could write with crayons. [laughter] I still have some of my of my little notepads from when I was a kid filled with poems and songs.
Nino NoSay: We grew up together; we are family. Shorty Rock and I met on Big Wheels; we used to tear up the pavement racing our wheels [laughter], but seriously I have always been active in my community, playing the African drum called the Jimbay in a African drum and dance troupe called Sankofa. One of the original members of FlowCity named Rie Staxz had to depart, and I started filling in.
AllHipHop.com: What is the style and concept of Flow City?
Brown Suga: FlowCity is Hip-Hop Alternative music. We go for fun themes and try to keep an uplifting tone, while staying as close to our own unique sound and creativity.
Nino NoSay: FlowCity is a movement, a brand. It has three different styles. Everyone can relate to our style, it’s a new genre called "Hip-Pop." The three of us have different musical influences; therefore, we collaborate and create our own sound.
AllHipHop.com: How long have you been together?
Shorty Rock: All our lives, really. We are family. My mom (our manager) and my aunts sing. I have very talented cousins, and I surround myself around creative people.
Brown Suga: We've all known each other since birth...no, really, Shorty Rock is my cousin, and I've known Nino Nosay since I was about four, so it’s been some time. We went from playing tag to riding big wheels to writing and performing music together.
Nino NoSay: Professionally, we have been performing for about three years.
AllHipHop.com: How does your notoriety affect relationships with your peers and school?
Shorty Rock: We have so many people that want to see us make it and hold the 302 down. We have a lot of support from some of the most obscure people, our teachers, community leaders like the mayor. We are recognized around Delaware, and that feels good. On the flip side, I am sure there are haters, but I don’t concentrate on them … I listen to constructive criticism. We have a very close circle, and as a result, there is no negative impact, everyone is pushing for the same goal…success. We look to our fans…we love our fans. Other than our own aspirations, they are the reason we are grinding.
Brown Suga: They seem to enjoy it, actually. We come from a small town, so people jump at the opportunity to say they used to go to school with me, or they used to work at McDonald's with me [laughter]. My close friends and family are all proud, although they miss me, because I'm usually always busy.
Nino NoSay: We get much love and respect. When we first started out, we played a lot of high schools and coffeehouses. Rival schools hated on us, but you know what they say…haters elevate you. It basically means you’re doing something right! Overall, we love our fans and appreciate all their support, and that is what we focus on.
AllHipHop.com: Who are your influences?
Shorty Rock: I have two different influences, because I am a producer and an artist. Polow Da Don, Timbaland, and Kanye West are producers that have impacted me. Artists that have influenced me are Kid Cudi, Bone Thugz N Harmony, and Q-Tip.
Brown Suga: I've been listening to The Kings of Leon since 9th grade, and they inspire me to write from the heart. The Fugees made me want to rap and sing as a child, though. My dad would pick me up from Delaware on the weekends and drive up to D.C. On the way, we would listen to The Fugees album, The Score, so I knew the entire album at the age of nine. I’m influenced by Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj, and most importantly, my fans. Most of the people that come up to me and tell me they love my music are little girls. I want to make music that empowers them to be strong, intelligent, and proud to be unique.
Nino NoSay: Nas, Eminem, and T.I.
AllHipHop.com: Where do you consider yourselves as far as your market placement, your followin,g and career achievements?
Shorty Rock: I believe our demographic is from 18 to 25. I can see our market placement being in the Hip-Hop Alternative genre. As for career achievements, I would like for our first album to have a platinum single, followed with at least three videos. I can see myself producing tracks for top artists in the industry. I also would like to explore my talents in acting in modeling and rake in the endorsements! [laughter]
Brown Suga: I feel like FlowCity represents a type of kid that doesn't truly have a voice yet. We're being marketed to give the kids from the suburbs a voice. Not everyone likes thug rap; people want to feel good. We write about our stories, our struggles, and our times of joy. As for market placement, we are very creative and diverse. We can fit in any genre, really, depending on which song selection we use. Currently, we are placed Alternative Hip Hop. What is crazy is the demographic following we have. We have fans as young as 12 and as old as 25 - it's bananas! You could even say up to 76, if you count our grandmothers! [laughter]
AllHipHop.com: What are some of your more notable performances and achievements (openers, awards etc.)?
Brown Suga: The first time I heard myself on the radio was such an amazing feeling. I had friend after friend call me and tell me I was on the radio , and when we opened for the KISS-FM Spring Jam, where we had the opportunity to perform alongside Miguel, Mindless Behavior, Marsha Ambrosia, and Mary Mary, just to name a few. Just being backstage for the whole event and meeting all the artists and learning was an unforgettable experience. We had a great time, and everyone treated us like we belonged. Right now, we have some real big things in the works. I can’t speak about them now but I’m sooo excited….
Nino NoSay: We performed at the annual African Festival, in which we were the only Hip-Hop group to ever be invited to perform. Also, our first big show [was] "Delaware Teen Idol." We didn’t win but...it was sick. We were also asked to headline the Delaware Teen Summit, which gave us an opportunity to assist with moderating to our peers on topics from peer pressure to safe sex.
AllHipHop.com: Have you had any negative or disparaging experiences in the industry, and how do you handle them?
Shorty Rock: Yes, but we always evaluate our experiences and watch for our as well as other people's mistakes and try not do the same. We learn from every experience. We try to stay positive because not everyone or situation is what is claims to be.
Brown Suga: With every journey, this one comes with ups and downs. The first big show we did was called "Delaware Teen Idol." We practiced very hard and were very excited. We ended up not even placing in the competition, but everyone was singing our song backstage which said a lot. We ended up growing our fanbase drastically. We learned that every cloud has a silver lining.
Nino NoSay: Of course, every serious artist goes through ups and downs, but you have to keep grinding believe in your dream, goals, and your team. Hard work will pay off.
AllHipHop.com: How do you feel about the state of the music industry, creatively and in terms of its structure now?
Shorty Rock: Talent will only get you but so far. I have learned that, as an artist, I have to, as well as my team, grind hard, perfect our craft and create a buzz. You need to know the right people, have marketability, longevity, and youth. That’s very important to labels. We are in a recession right now; so are record companies. They want to be sure, by your efforts, you are worth their time and effort. Right now, it's clear labels are not trying to develop artists. You better come with your “A” game.
Nino NoSay: The industry is not giving out a lot of deals anymore. You have to grind yourself. You have to create your own following, development, and marketing…overall, you have to put in hard work and pray it pays off. But get in the game, because you will either love it or else you will hate it…it’s a numbers game.
AllHipHop.com: What are your short and long term goals?
Shorty Rock: Short-term…first and foremost, I want to continue to master my craft of producing and writing. I want to smash Nino and Brown Suga in a freestyle battle [laughter]. Of course, I want to be signed by a label. Long-term, I want to continue to build my fanbase and be considered a respectable artist and producer in the industry, and eventually have my own label, "Pursuit of Dreams." I already have a roster!
Brown Suga: I want my music to open doors for endorsements, eventually get involved in charity organizations that are important to me, as well as be involved in different business ventures such as acting in movies and on Broadway. Who knows? Maybe even create a cool, edgy, funky FlowCity clothing line…it would be dope!
Nino NoSay: I want to see our single(s) in the Billboard Top 100, go platinum, and to give back to my community. A lot of people have stood by us, supported us, and want to see us go far...you just can’t forget love like that. I want to hear my voice through music and know that it touched someone. Long-term, I want to become an entrepreneur, be behind the scenes, an executive. I am also interested n endorsements and working with other artists that have influenced me.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have any projects past or current you want to plug?
Shorty Rock: I always want to plug my new music or beats. I want to give a shout out to AllHipHop.com, specifically L.Burner for her support, Willie Fleming , CEO of Living Proof Entertainment, JMG, and I got to hold it down for my dawgs. Shout out to my artists on P.O.D. - JuzzV, Rie Staxz, and the big shout out goes to my homie…God. “We gone” [laughter] Nino voice.
Nino NoSay: This article on AllHipHop.com, participating in the Mind your Business Conference - I truly learned a lot and feel many artists will benefit from participating in such conferences - Kiss Spring Jam, upcoming performances, and the new music we are working on. We are ready…I want to plug that! Last, but not least, God.
Find more on Flow City on soundcloud.com/flowcity, youtube.com/flowcity3, and on Twitter at @flowcitylove.