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Sound Advice: Salem by Flex the Antihero

One half of local rap favourites the Antiheroes strikes out on his own, finds a new sound.

Salemsm

Durham Region rap duo the Antiheroes are known for producing verbally dexterous, high-energy, golden era–flavoured hip hop. On his solo debut, Salem, Flex the Antihero tries to push his boundaries and expand his sonic palate.

Flex’s lyricism is as strong as ever, but his beat choices are a radical departure. Most of the record is produced by the duo of Emerson Brooks and M Mac, who put a unique stamp on the record. “Salem Pt. 1 — The Burbs” verges on cloud rap, while “The Wicked” combines trap-influenced percussion, dreamy guitar, and a chorus by singer Allan Rayman—who sounds just a little like Sting. “The Great Escape” has an almost cinematic quality to it. The sample heavy “Build and Destroy” features one of the more classic rap-like beats, and even it has a fairly dark undertone.

Flex is, without a doubt, one of the local scene’s best technical rappers: there’s not much he can’t do. He’s a master of complex internal rhyme schemes, playing with the number of words in a bar and complex metaphors, all while effortlessly staying on beat. On Salem, though, he combines his technical skills with soft skills, dropping raw emotion on “The Great Escape,” “Rolling Dice,” and “The Wicked.” He’s not just a great technical rapper—he’s capable of making you feel what he’s feeling. (You can listen to “The Wicked” by clicking on the sample above.)

Flex could have just made an Antiheroes record all by himself, and no one would have complained about that. Instead, he showed that when he’s on his own, it becomes a whole different ballgame.

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