Guestlist grabbed a few minutes with the forever on the move Fliptrix at the Jazz Cafe launch party of his eagerly anticipated 7th studio produced LP, 'Inexhale'.
So Fliptrix, High Focus Records CEO and celebrated UK spitter, how’s life treating you? Really good thanks man, busy times! I just dropped my 7th solo album ‘Inexhale’ so have been focused on that and working hard on the label.
I can imagine you are with the new record just out! Describe yourself in 3 words.. Positive, energetic, real
If you were not making music for a living what do you think you'd be doing? I'd either be making videos or something wild....like landscape gardening haha!
You into that yeah? That's cool man, I'm a bit of a gardener too...For real? Veggie vibes!
I'm all for GYO and PYO.... Special gardening innit haha!
Well, tomatoes plants in summer, big old potatoes in winter... at least you know it's all natural and exactly where it's come from! Anyways moving on, for those of our readers who don't know much about you and your career, could you tell how you got into rapping and hip hop culture? When I was about 12 years old I started to listen to hip hop, US hip hop like Biggy and Big Pun, those sort of guys. Then when was sixteen I found UK Hip Hop so guys like Jehst Skinnyman, Taskforce. When I heard those guys that's what inspired me to pick up the pen and start writing lyrics. Basically as soon as I heard people from our country rapping, I related to it so much more and then in my mind I was like "Shit, I can actually do this". Whereas before, you know, it was from another country and they were talking about stuff I couldn't necessarily relate to, so it seemed like a bit of a fantasy.
That's it, I love listening to Wu and Hiero but with some tracks the lyrical content and slang is stuff which even the local US listeners have difficulty understanding. In that respect I'm much the same as you, I grew up going to Jehst, Klashnekoff, Phi Life Cypher, and nights like Kung Fu, so I know how you feel in terms of relating better to UK lyrics. So, you started spitting after becoming inspired in the late 90s / early 2000s. How was it that High Focus Records came about to be established? I started High Focus back in 2010 as I was releasing my second album 'Theory of Rhyme', and at that point Lowlife Records had crumbled and the only real platform in the UK was Jehst's label, YNR. But at that time I would have had to have waited a while to get my record out on YNR, so Jehst advised me to start my own label. In the beginning I did it just to put out my own music, then I became surrounded by a lot of talented people who were all great artists and musicians, but weren't really into the business & admin side of things. That's when I put out Jam Baxter's 'Rinse Out Friday / Spack Out Monday' record then Leaf Dog said he had a record and asked if I'd like to put it out. So that's just how it happened. Once I had put out 3 or 4 albums I just fell into the role and decided that was what I wanted to do with my life. I just kept moving forward from there basically. From a young age I used to go to the city and see commuters on the trains travelling home looking sad and drained from work and I knew I never wanted to be one of those people. I had to be the boss of my own life, do things on my terms and make sure it was fulfilling so that I had a purpose in life that I was genuinely into and proud of. I was probably 14 or 15 at the time so this has been a long time coming, I’ve always been entrepreneurial so it was natural for me to form my own business, do it properly, professionally and with total passion.
That's awesome that you knew what you wanted from your teenage days. So I heard about High Focus around 2014 and I went to the HF birthday party that year. It was the first one is been to and, having grown up going to hip hop shows in the Lowlife era, it was such a beautiful thing to see a big venue fully rammed out, filled with young fans who literally knew all the lyrics. It must be a great feeling being the chief of a UK hip hop label that consistently packs out venues... Yeah for sure, it makes all the hard work worthwhile when you see how much the crowd really enjoy themselves! That feeling on stage is what a lot of artists live for.
Well one thing that certainly has to be appreciated from High Focus Is the level of output from you and the whole roster, it's clear you guys have an great work ethic. Do you think the work ethic was a big part of the labels success, both in terms of remaining visible and building the roster year upon year? Yeah 100% without a doubt. Work ethic, believing in yourself and being able to genuinely visualise what you want to do and achieve is essential to being successful. On top of that everyone on the label is extremely talented and all very different in style so there is something for everyone. This was very important to me when choosing the artists I wanted to sign. On top of that the way in which we present our albums, from the artwork, to the videos, to the promotion, High Focus is all about doing things the best way we can. Also as the circle of artists is pretty big these days, we have to keep things rolling as I wouldn’t want any artists projects to be sitting about stagnating. The size of the roster means that there is and has to be a constant level of output, hence the strong work ethic.
So are there any EPs or LPs that are waiting to be released? There's probably around 15 projects in the pipeline, everyone on the label’s constantly working on music. Each one’s just in a different position in terms of being ready for release but once a record is fully mastered it goes to press right away, we’re not hanging around with projects. Got to keep things rolling out here.
Nice to know that! So personally, do you feel particularly proud of any one of your solo LPs? I think they have different meanings for me because they were all made at different times in my life. I think it was quite a transformative part of my life when I made 'Third Eye of the Storm' and then 'The Road to the Interdimensional Piff Highway'. Also my last LP, 'Patterns of Escapism' with Illinformed as it's a very classic hip hop record with a very cohesive feel and sound to it. And obviously I'm really into my new album at the moment and have been overwhelmed with the feedback from it so that’s been really positive.
For sure man. I mean I listened to 'Third Eye of the Storm' a lot and had a few spins on 'Piff Highway' and it's been great hearing the progression in your style. So tell me about your new album 'Inexhale'? So it's just produced by Molotov, Chemo, and Joe Corfield. If you haven’t heard of any of them be sure to check them out they’re serious on production! The album is definitely a progression from my last projects and has a real nice dynamic to it in terms of beats, flows, styles and features too. It's got Coops, Ocean Wisdom, Onoe Caponoe, Datkiid, a female vocalist called Carmody, she's a good friend of mine and very talented. Oh yeah, and the one and only legend that is Skinnyman as well.
Skinnyman? I'm looking forward to hearing that, don't think I've heard a track from him in a minute. I think it's great that you've had so many UK legends feature on your albums along the way... Yeah for real man, the track is called ‘Thriller’, Joe Corfield produced that one definitely check it out. Oh yeah, there's Capo Lee amd Jammz as well on a track called ‘Catch Banter’, they smashed their verses on that too and it’s been getting a crazy amount of radio play from all the big DJ’s in the UK like Mista Jam, DJ MK, Shortee Blitz, Charlie Sloth, DJ Target, Toddla T and so on... Even got playlisted on BBC Radio 1Xtra so fully happy with that.
That track is dope, all the flows are sick on it. So you're gonna tour the new album in the UK and Europe, do you have any immediate plans after that? Well for me at the moment my main focus is promoting and touring the album, so there’s gonna be a lot of show’s, then after that I'll be working on finishing the new Four Owls crew album.
You've just answered my next question! So when will it be released? So the new Four Owls album should be dropping sometime early 2019 hopefully...
And so you've had Method Man, DJ Premier and of course the one like Dizzee Rascal to feature for High Focus Records, something that is definitely big for the UK hip hop scene. Can we expect more legendary features on the new Owls album? Yeah man it’s crazy, to have those guys feature on albums on the label is a surreal feeling and working with DJ Premier was a dream come true. I used to freestyle to his beats for hours on end growing up. In terms of features we've got some really nice surprises on the new Four Owls album. Look out for some proper classic artists, the album is gonna do big things, trust me it’ll be worth the wait!
Will defo be keeping an eye out for it amongst the next High Focus releases! So, just for any aspiring lyricists looking to break into the game, what advice would you give them? You have to be so dedicated it's unreal. You have to be totally focused, you have to believe in yourself 100% and if anyone hates on your music, just don't listen to them and keep on going man. And make sure to visualize. If you can't visualize what you want, you'll probably never achieve it. So basically, a lot of hard work, go to shows, watch artists, take inspiration, and make sure to put your own twist on it.
And what is the message that you yourself are most keen to get across in your music? Overall it's positivity, peace and progression, and believing in yourself. You manifest your own destiny’ so just go for it. I want to spread positive vibes because I'm in a position where people listen to my music and what I've got to say, therefore I'm aware that it's a position of power so I want to use that for good rather than spreading bullshit and negativity because there's a lot of that in this world already…
For sure, there's a lot of rap music that many members of the public would see as not contributing positively to society... Yeah for real, however a lot of that content in rap is down to the artists just being products of their environments as well. So you can’t blame music, the situation needs to be looked at as a whole to find the root of the issue and address it from there. If people are surrounded by positive situations it’s far more likely they will express themselves in a positive manner. This is what led me to have certain realisations and choose my own positive stance in how I express myself through music.
Some wise words brother for sure. Well we all look forward to seeing where your career takes you and the UK scene! Thanks for your time Fliptrix! That's all good man, there’s a lot more to come! Thanks for supporting and taking the time to chat. Peace!
Buy Fliptrix's new LP 'Inexhale' on vinyl, CD, tape, or digital and much more music and merch from the High Focus Records home here
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