Snacking on Floco Torres’ #DreamBoard
Brazil is handwritten and in bigger letters than the rest of the cities. London, St. Louis, Vegas, Boston, Paris, Melbourne… so many cities I have and haven’t visited. And another word that is necessary with these visits. Passport.
Maybe I should make a dream board.
But more than the physical dream board that exists to show Floco where he wants to go in the next ten year is the lyrical #DreamBoard that is this EP he’s put together, totally produced by DJ Shawty Slim. I would say Slim is a perfectionist and works hard to hone his craft. I’ve also watched Floco work and, whether you like what he does or not, no one can say he isn’t working his ass off to get wherever he is going. You’ll hear this in #DreamBoard. Executive producing with Floco is Shad (Ronshad Berry), a long time friend of Slim’s, called the mastermind by both Floco and Slim, and all around encouraging guy. If you’ve seen them in a room, you’ll have high expectations that you believe they can meet. I’ll be surprised if you don’t like the album.
I was invited to the listening party in the loft where Justin from Roly Bots cut his hand so badly people thought it would ruin his music career. The loft where I heard Troop of Echoes play for the first time, the loft where I learned that futzing with television in time to music was a thing and a thing I wouldn’t mind seeing again. Usually the loft is hot as hell, but for the #DreamBoard listening party it is temperate. There are lights flashing on the wall and Slim is in the middle of the room hunched over a laptop. Floco is alternately near the career killer window and standing at the solitary mic next to Slim. He introduces the songs but then he walks away to let us listen in peace.
I missed the first 25 minutes of the listening party, but I only missed the first three songs, one of which is the song I’ve been jammin to all week. “Wanna Be” is the evolution story of how Floco Torres came to be. It mirrors, I think, the journey of many artists. It wasn’t a stage for me, but from the moment I put words on a page to tell a story, I knew I wanted to be that. And with that one song I began to anticipate the EP. Floco has had his hits and misses but Childhood Summers, Celebrity Dreams marked a turning point, to me, in his music. I felt he was trying to show his growth and to do that, he had to go back to the beginning. #DreamBoard continues that in a very real sense. It’s as if, in Childhood Summers…, he went back into his own past while in #DreamBoard he uses our collective past to find his footing.
There are a few things that can be said about #DreamBoard. It is still, undoubtedly, Floco Torres. He’s still talking about love, heartache, making it, etc. but the core of where the songs are going is different. His breakup song no longer leave him in tears. He’s reflective and mature enough to know that while endings hurt, they’re also beginnings. His “making it” songs come from a humble place, which makes them stronger. But when he brags he still has something to brag about. The combination of Floco’s storytelling style of rap and the old school music that people in my generation feel nostalgia for, even though we didn’t grow up with it, is thrilling. The years of friendship that Floco and Slim share makes this collaboration almost flawless. You don’t wish that Floco will just shut up and let the songs play, which is usually how I feel when the samples are as interesting as these. What the samples do is make you long for the next verse.
The only original song on the CD – and I say original as in there are no samples of other people’s song, all original content from Floco and Slim – is “Skylight.” The music fits so well with the rest of the sampled tracks, but there is something about it that uses the advances in music to elevate it. The things they didn’t know about arranging music then is used to this track’s advantage to make the sounds from the past excel in the present. It sounds new and old simultaneously and you like it. I’m halfway in love with the guitar riff before he finishes the second verse, which means by the time Bragg Jam makes it around, i will know the song by heart. It’s also the first time I don’t think he sounds like Kanye. When I asked Floco how “Skylight” came into existence he said “I love the organ on the chorus. LOVE that feeling when it drops in. I wanted to write a chorus that would just fall right into what the music was doing. I originally wanted Matthew Santos (he sang the chorus on Lupe Fiasco’s “Superstar”) to sing it, then Perry Valentyne, then it just worked out with me singing it.”
“I feel like the stories I want to tell find a way to place themselves in the proper times. This must be the time for me to tell stories like the first verse on ‘Keep it Movin’,” Floco said when I asked why #DreamBoard and why now. I’m looking forward to 4/20. Check out DJ Shawty Slim‘s page or Floco Torres’ page to see when and where you can download it. For now, listen to Wanna Be and tell me what you think.