With over 20 solo projects in the books, Akron, Ohio’s Floco Torres is well-versed in the art of adaptation. Soaking up influences spanning Stevie Wonder to Kid Cudi, he’s honed a bright but weighty blend of sincere R&B and sharply reflexive hip-hop. On Friday, June 16, Torres brings his latest take on soulful hip-hop to the Syndicate Lounge.
Torres’ latest project, an EP titled again, records the artist’s pursuit of creative renewal and new beginnings. “It’s a reset with the same character,” he says. “I wanted to get better and make some good music. The shows are the same way. I’ve worked with full bands in the past, but everything is stripped down this time.”
The EP is set to release on July 7. Beats were composed with the insights of producer Shawty Slim, Torres’ long-time collaborator. Upcoming material strikes a balance of heavy subject matter and personality, a chemistry Torres admires in hip-hop lyricists. “I appreciate it when artists talk social issues, but also come across as not always so serious,” he says. “You can understand what matters to them, and you feel like you could hang with them.”
The EP’s first single, “You,” is introduced as a “breakup song,” though Torres leaves room to interpret what exactly is coming to an end through the passing of verses. “It’s the idea of breaking up with an idea,” he says. “You’re moving on from something, whether it’s a person or a place in your life, the feelings can be mixed.”
The lyrics are delivered through a chill R&B rhythm, and the steady flow is supported by a hat-heavy beat. Throughout the song, Torres and Slim have incorporated samples from Meiko’s “I Can’t Tell.” Meiko’s sultry yet sorrowful vocals add some shadow to the track’s color values, and provide a few breathers between lyrical torrents.
Torres’ previous recordings include his first LP, Floco’s Modern Life. Released in 2011, the album’s production was completely fan-funded through Kickstarter. The crowd-funding’s success indicated a committed following early in Torres’ career, and rewarded the risk involved with self-released recording.
“When you’re just getting started and you want to record, you have to find a way to make it work outside the bubble,” he says. “If you’re not at the point where you’ll get label support, you’re not guaranteed to get that fan support either. You’ve got to ask yourself if it’s really practical yet. It worked out with the LP because people were interested and willing to see it happen. You have to have that support before you can attempt something that demanding.”
Success certainly isn’t taken for granted, and Torres devotes several tracks to the challenges, milestones, and background naysay encountered on the way. Hard-earned bravado is aired out in “Can’t Stop Me” and “Back Home.” Confidence and aggression are apparent in his writing, which translates to an impassioned live performance. Expressing the thoughts and feelings that inspired his lyrics is an inherent part of the show. “It’s something I see in my favorite bands,” he says. “They put in so much energy. They make people feel it and dance and they work for that.”
Having logged some rigorous tours in recent years, Torres is no stranger to the Magic City. He has previously performed in Birmingham as part of the Secret Stages music festival and returned to play at The Nick. “The festival was a great experience,” he says, “and I love places like The Nick, shows that don’t get going until late into the night.”
Friday night, Floco Torres will be joined by The Monastery, Loveislight, and Phlip. Birmingham’s Lobotomix has a full night planned, starting at 8 p.m. Check out the event page right here. The Syndicate Lounge is located at 433 20th St South, Birmingham, AL 35233.
Video and images courtesy of Noisy Ghost PR. Photo by Brandon Everett Thompson.