RVA Mag #38 is on the streets now! Here’s another article from the issue, in which we learn how Richmond’s Young Flexico has wound through a career of video production, rapping, and recording by sticking true to himself in his work.
“I try to have fun with it. The point of this is to do this stuff, and we don’t want to work normal jobs and have to be serious all the time.”
That’s Young Flexico, a Richmond rapper, visual artist, and marketing guru. “Not everything needs to be super serious. That’s not the mood I’m in, really,” he said. “I’m not going to say I’m in a goofy mood all the time, but I’m not in a serious mood all the time.”
For Flexico, it’s more about authenticity when it comes to subject matter in music.
“I couldn’t imagine making music that was just serious all the time. I mean, I can hit that pocket — but I’ve got to be already there [mentally]. But I don’t really be living like that,” he said. “Like, you don’t go in the studio and just be serious, you know? It was hard for me to rap about things I don’t care about as much. I feel like some artists try to touch on topics because they’re relevant, but some stuff isn’t really relevant to them. I think it [doesn’t] connect with the listener because they can feel it’s not real.”
Flexico has made quite a splash since arriving on the scene in Richmond a couple of years ago. Originally from the Hampton Roads area, he moved to the River City as a teenager and has been a part of the hip-hop wave in the city for a while. He brought his talent for video art to The Life Company (now Green and Gold Label) under the alias “G” as their director. Then he transitioned from behind the camera to performing, taking on his current moniker. I was fortunate enough to catch up with him (after months of missed connections) at his house, where we talked about promotion, the microwave minds of today’s society, and his plans for dropping new music.
“I don’t know. I was talking to a friend and he was telling me that I should just push this for a while, but I’m always working on music, you know what I’m saying? Nothing will probably come out before the end of the year except for one or two random songs. But I’m working on another project. I’mma name my next project Tenacious — that’s what the title is right now, but it could change.”
Before the surge of Flexico’s career, he started at the beginning as “G,” the video director. Reminiscing on his early days, he talked about how that first life began.
“My older brother rapped. I was doing videos for him and shit like that. That’s when I first got my feet wet,” he said. “And then me and Segga (Spiccoli) became really good friends, and he rapped and all that. I ain’t have nothing to do ‘cause I wasn’t rapping. I didn’t really want to rap. I just started directing videos from there. I just looked at a lot of YouTube videos and kept practicing at it, and then I just kept sharpening my blade.”
Seeing those early Segga Spiccoli videos and other visual work for The Life Company, I assumed he went to school for this. But he chimed in quickly to set the record straight.
“I didn’t go to school for nothing I do,” he said. “I went to school. I got a degree in business administration, a bachelor’s degree. I started shooting videos. Like shooting good videos with Segga. The first person I shot for AGM [Association of Great Minds] was Nickelus F, but that was like some recap shit. And I reached out to [Michael Millions] after he dropped Ghost of $20 Bills, and asked him to shoot a video off the joint. We never shot a video, [until] he was recording the Beautiful album. And then we just shot the whole film because that’s when I really started learning how to do shit.
“I didn’t have the proper tools. Like a D3100, which is like a really beginner-DSLR. And I had this fucked up ass laptop and Adobe Premiere Elements — I did all that on Adobe Premiere Elements and then chopped it together, probably going too deep in detail,” he said. “So basically I was with Mike probably for a year working on that, and just creating content for him. That was a good moment in my life. And around that time, that’s when I got my first MacBook. My girl had got it for me for Christmas, then I upgraded the camera, too. And then I just started on the first video I did with that. [It] was the ‘Laced Weed’ video [for Nickelus F], and that’s the video that people were really liking a lot.”
In his early career, Flexico’s self-taught director skills made his transition to hip-hop almost effortless. Funding all of his own work, he’s grown from his humble beginnings with a never-wavering drive to believe in himself — and the people around him as well. Segga Spiccoli didn’t have a place to record at the early days, and Flexico bought his own recording equipment.
“I believe in his talents so much that I bought all of the recording stuff, and then he wasn’t really using it,” Flex laughed. “I don’t know why, but Mike taught me how to use it, equipment and everything. So one day I just was like damn, I don’t want this shit to go to waste. I had spent a lot of money on that shit. He ain’t even use it, I’m just going to use it myself.
“And that’s how I started dabbling in music, because I didn’t want to waste my money. It’s not like you can return it,” he said. “It’s right there. I got the whole set up that Mike had, I could record Segga’s vocals and then go to Mike’s House and he could fix everything — same program, same interface, same mic, same everything. I bought all the same shit that Mike has.”
The first day he recorded, he recorded five songs back to back. He made it into his first mixtape, which he titled The Adventures of Flexico.
“I had sent out fake mixtapes to like five people, and they was like, that joint kinda crank a little bit. But it was some goofy shit,” he said. “I was like, alright, cool. Then I came back and I was like, ‘Damn, I’m gonna really put out a mixtape.’ I think that what happened with that joint is like… if I’m going to do something, I tried to do it 110%, like go all the way in. I don’t want to have no regrets.
“I was like damn, I’m about to start rapping. So I can’t make myself look stupid, because I already had a kind of respect for just doing videos. That’s why I ended up buying beats, trying to get cool producers on my shit.”
Learning that he had a business degree, I had to ask Flex if he took many marketing classes. Some of his promotional moves as an artist have already earned legendary status in the community.
“I think that goes back to how I was raised. It’s like your moms saying don’t go out of the house looking a certain way, it’s the same thing. Don’t step into whatever you’re doing without looking a certain way or creating a certain experience for people. It’s entertainment. So we have to entertain listeners. I’m calling myself Young Flexico, that mean I gotta flex, you know what I’m saying? I didn’t give myself the name, Mike gave me the name. But at the end of the day, I got to flex.”
When it came to living up to his newfound rap alias, Flexico decided to flex that persona where nobody would miss it.
“So it was like, what can I do that would wow people? Because honestly, if I wouldn’t have done the billboard, then nobody really would’ve noticed what I was doing,” he said. “It was like the only way I could get people’s attention was to do something that was never done before.
“And I was just like, might as well just go for it… Then I motherfucking bought the billboard, ‘cause I was trying to make a big ass splash. And I feel like honestly all those were good steps in the right direction. The billboard was wild. That was one of the coolest things I did in my life… I feel like nobody ever did that shit before. And I came out of nowhere completely, so it was just a cool process. That’s when I really started falling in love with doing music. That shit was a cool moment in my life.
“So I didn’t take no class [in] marketing. I just tried to think of cool ideas or excite people, because I feel like a lot of artists in general — not even just in Richmond — just don’t think outside the box. They just confine [themselves] to a certain space. And that’s why I try not confining myself, so people don’t put me in a box.”
While discussing his marketing moves, Flexico touches on some of the missteps he sees artists take, recalling the beginning of our conversation about letting his album cook for awhile.
“The rollout part of it. I feel like artists don’t really… Alright, so you’re used to taking all your time on this stuff. Hours after hours of recording music, mixing music, all that. You do all that. You put all that time into it. Right? To put it out and just promote it slightly,” he said. “So it’s like, if I’m doing something and I’m putting a lot of my time into it, I’m taking away from spending time with my girl, spending time with my son, hanging out with just family, doing other shit. Then I might as well put that same amount of energy into the process of letting people see.
“I feel like people might get a little bit discouraged when [they] drop something and they don’t see returns. So they don’t keep going. You know what I’m saying? Like my last video I put out didn’t do as good as the previous video. It could be a situation where I should just get on to the next thing, but I got other good songs on the album that people might like,” he said.
“It’s like if you don’t keep pushing what you worked your ass off on, cause you gotta think like other people don’t, people will stop believing in you.”
Photos by Bandolero and Klasheee
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond