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Flawless Real Talk on Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow, Life as an Indie Artist, and Building His Fanbase

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Rapper, producer, and entrepreneur Flawless Real Talk joined to talk about how he manages his rap career. He was the runner up on Netflix’s hip-hop competition show Rhythm & Flow, which boosted his career trajectory. But despite all the industry attention, Flawless is still an independent artist. He talks about that decision, the tradeoffs he’s had to make, and what his goals are as an artist. He recently hosted a livestream concert on LIVIT, where he had over 1 million fans join in.


If you’re interested in how artists manage tradeoffs between being signed and indie, building a fanbase, and resiliency, then this is the episode for you.

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Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co

Guest: Flawless Real Talk, @flawlessri, flawlessri.com

Hip-hop’s influence continues to grow. Learn how it impacts your business. Join the execs, CEOs, and moguls who read Trapital: trapital.co


Transcript

Dan Runcie
Hey, welcome to the Trapital podcast. I’m your host, Dan Runcie. Our guest today is the rapper, entrepreneur, producer. Flawless Real Talk. Welcome to the podcast.

Flawless Real Talk
Thanks for having me, man. Appreciate you guys.

Dan Runcie
I’m glad you could come on for a few reasons. First and foremost, you’re a fellow New Englander that’s near and dear to my heart grew up right outside of Hartford. So it’s great to see people from Providence coming out in the rap game.

Flawless Real Talk
That’s dope man as dope, New England, man, a lot of people don’t really know about Rhode Island, and you know about the New England area. But you know, I’m really proud to be representing my city and my side. And being one of the forefronts of the people in this new generation, pushing the same kind of music that our coast is known for, you know?

Dan Runcie
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I know you’ve talked about this plenty. People assume so much as New York. And that’s true, but not too far away. You have all these other subcultures. And I have close friends. I live in Rhode Island, and it’s definitely a little bit of a different vibe. But there’s still that East Coast grits. I’m glad that comes through.

Flawless Real Talk
Absolutely man, like a small in New York. You know, a lot of people from here have family in New York and vice versa. So, you know, we’re always back and forth. You know, I have a lot of family that grew up in New York. So I spent a lot of time on their influences. Definitely from there, but we’re definitely our own individual state. And we’re proud of that.

Dan Runcie
Yeah, same here, that’s how I feel about Connecticut. Well, I want to go back to last year, you of course, have been rapping for a minute now. But I think a lot of people got put on to you after Netflix Rhythm + Flow show. And I know that a lot changed for you in the past year. But what was that experience like? Take us through that journey.

Flawless Real Talk
Man, the reality show was really incredible, because it was a different type of hip hop competition. It was Netflix, it wasn’t like primetime television. It wasn’t live. And it was really opinionated. And that’s something that I really wanted to keep in mind throughout the competition is that America was a voting for this, this was a more opinionated competition where three people were going to say their opinions, and then the best person in their opinion was going to win. So I just knew that as long as I performed to the best of my ability, and continue to just stay focused throughout the competition, and understand that it was an opinionated thing, that I wasn’t putting myself under too much pressure, I just knew that if I executed and did everything, you know, the way I normally have been doing, I would come out just fine. And the result of it was incredible. It was a lot of time consuming challenges with every challenge coming right after another. That was the most mental thing about the competition was that we had minimal time to do each challenge. Other than that, it was very exciting, you know, and very beneficial to our career. For sure.

Dan Runcie
The three judges that you had, T.I., Chance the Rapper, and Cardi B. They’re all different. And they all were looking for specific things. And I’m sure that drove a lot of how you and the other contestants went about it. Do you think that you would have approached it any differently if it was like an American Idol where the fans are voting on the outcome?

Flawless Real Talk
That’s interesting to say, I do believe that at one point in the competition, I think towards the middle of the competition, when we were getting down to the nitty gritty, I did find myself thinking about what the judges would like, as opposed to what an entire audience would like, you know, because like I said, it’s opinionated. The competition is judged very tightly. So I think maybe Yeah, maybe we would have accepted the finale, I think the finale, I definitely did it as if America would be voting opposed to what the three judges might have wanted to see from me. And that was important for my legacy, and just going out and speaking my truth, and not doing it. so to speak, the cliche, big performance, I kind of went deep into the heartstrings of the world. And I think if America would have been voting, I would have definitely played to my advantage for the finale. But um, he definitely kept that in mind that the three judges were the ones deciding for sure. So that’s that’s a great question.

Dan Runcie
Because I remember when watching it, I think, all respect to you D.Smoke London and everyone else that was in it, but I felt like the skill set of a D.Smoke definitely fit a bit more of like the artist artists, if you will, versus you had a bit more of that mainstream vibe that I do think plays a little bit more to that mass audience.

Flawless Real Talk
Absolutely. Before going into the competition, I didn’t know if there was going to be a mass audience voting or if we were going to be in front of you know, an audience that had an opinion in the winner. But I always said if I go up against somebody who’s a favorite, and it’s deep in the competition, I know that if I get personal and I really dig deep, that I could be impactful. Even though I knew that America wasn’t voting for that finale. I knew everybody watching watching the show would feel that impact at the end and definitely room for me if not anything, you know, even if I didn’t win, they would definitely root for me after the show. And the fact that it’s on Netflix and it stays there, people are discovering the show every single day. So I’m still getting messages now. Like, I hope you win, I’m not at the end. But I really hope you win. I’m like, I’ll keep watching. It’s great. Like, you know, so it’s really exciting to see people still discovering the show, a year plus after, you know.

Dan Runcie
I love that. And I want to talk about that finale, too, because it seemed like it wasn’t just de smoke that got the big award, there were different deals being pitched. And I know that there were plenty of business opportunities that came that day, but also came in the weeks months after that. What was that like?

Flawless Real Talk
That was an incredible experience. Because you know, your whole career, you’re fighting for these meetings, you’re fighting to get into these buildings, you’re fighting to get in a position to put yourself at that level. And then the show ended and everybody was reaching out and so many different labels and companies and different things of that nature. And it was just a great feeling to feel like, finally here, you know, we were ready to take that next step, we got the exposure that we were looking for, because there’s no talent, you could go on the show, and they say, you know, 190 countries are gonna watch this show.

But you could do bad. You could go on, and I could just do horribly, you know, and some people did, some people went on there and didn’t make it, you know, too far. So the fact that we were successful as we was was just very, very grateful for that. And they get that exposure and be able to get those opportunities after, it was really a great feeling to feel like we’re finally getting some traction, you know, after being independent and grinded for so long.

Dan Runcie
That independent piece is interesting, because that’s been your journey. That’s still the journey that you’re on. But I’m sure a lot of record labels probably came with the checks and with the advances. I know you can’t go into specifics about who gave what, but what were some of those deals like Were there any tough decisions that you had to make?

Flawless Real Talk
We always have tough decisions to make every single day as an independent label, what direction we want to go, you know, really scaling out growth every single day and whenever against a major label partnership, but the situation just has to be right. And for us with getting the exposure that we did, we felt like we could still remain independent, you know, we went ahead and signed with WWE William Morris Agency, which is one of the biggest agencies in the world. So we were able to get them for touring and booking we were able to sign a management deal with Lauren at patriot management. They’re an incredible Management Agency. So you know, we figured with those pieces, we could definitely navigate and continue to grow independently.

And right now, you know, a lot of artists are celebrating, getting out of their deals in today’s world. And ownership and independence is now the cool thing to do. I’ve been independent since 2010. I was independent when it wasn’t cool. I was touring independently, I was booking my own tours, I was buying on tours, doing whatever I could to continue to stay on the road to build my fan base, knowing that social media was important and continuing to be in the face of the consumer. So you know, now that it’s cool. And it’s like the thing to do, we’re in the perfect space. So for us, we decided to continue and leading in that space and being independent ownership, teaching the youth about ownership about you know, protecting their equity and everything that they have, because we are very valuable and everything that we create.

And I think a lot of artists coming up from the past to now learn those lessons after the fact after they give up the publishing and after you know, then making a certain percentage of the money you see artists that are famous, that are not making as much money as artists who are not as famous, but are independent, because they’re monetizing, and making most of the money. So I’m appreciative to be in this space. And like I said, whenever against the partnership with a major label, the situation just has to be right. And until it is we’re going to continue to grow. And until the situation is right, you know.

Dan Runcie
So what would the ideal partnership or relationship look like?

Flawless Real Talk
Man, for us, we just want to find a label that is going to be just as dedicated as we are, you know, I like to say nobody cares more than you. So for me doing the day to day and doing everything that we’ve done, we have a lot of relationship with hip hop artists that have taken deals. And we kind of saw how those were navigated and how things didn’t really work out for them and what was done for them. And then we kind of see in that space, well can we do those things on our own, it really has to be something that a label can offer us that we can already kind of do for ourselves in a sense, and being passionate and also being fair in the splits and everything else.

And we also want to continue to own the music, which is very important. A lot of people learn about residual income music now with streaming, the residual income is incredible with streaming and now the digital world coming into play with music sales. So having that ownership and getting that residual income for your kids to feed on, you know free for generations to come is important as opposed to signing it over to a label for limited success or For a temporary success, so for me, just has to be the right situation.

Dan Runcie
It seems like for most artists that were in major label deals that now one out of them, there are a few things going on. As you mentioned, it was what was popular, it was the trend at the time. But in a lot of ways, it was also one of the main ways to be able to break out so much of those deals happen in an era before someone like you could rise as social media was rising, you’ve actually been independent since 2010.

This whole past decade, we’ve seen how SoundCloud and all these other tools and the rise of Tunecore and Distrokid and all these other services that just make it easier. So much of that wasn’t available to the signed artists before. So unless it was some type of unique deal where it’s cash money or no limit where they’re able to negotiate something pretty favorably, because they have all this clout and backing, it could have been much harder for someone like yourself to have been in that situation.

Flawless Real Talk
No, absolutely, absolutely. Social media and the DSPs know, Spotify, Apple Music have really changed the game. And I was explaining this to somebody because if we sell a CD, from the trunk of our cars like we used to, we used to have to go in the street and really physically sell this CD. Now, let’s say I sell you my CD, right, you love the CD, you go into your car, you bump the CD around the city all summer long, and you’ve played number four, maybe 5000 times, now you’re supporting me by spreading the music.

But with DSP and with streaming. Now, every time you play that song, we’re getting a royalty, you understand. So the more you play the song, the more you’re supporting that artists opposed to if you play the song 5000 times and I sold the CD to you for $10, I’m going to get those $10. And that’s it. That’s how you support it. Now it gives the consumer and the fans an opportunity to continuously support. And you can subscribe to these DSPs. But they’re also free. So like Spotify has a free version where you can stream my music for free. And you’re supporting me without having to spend any money, which is a different ballgame here now, with social media people being able to share your posts and share your videos. That doesn’t cost anything. So now the amount of support has heightened with the consumer and with the fans and the artists and I’m really grateful to be in this era and to be able to catch this wave. And I’m looking forward to see where it goes from here because it can only get better right?

Dan Runcie
The fact that we can now measure actual consumption is huge. I’m thinking about the albums that stuck in your car for a whole year like when Get Rich of Die Tryin’ came out or even like Tha Carter III, it was a year plus that those were in the car.

Flawless Real Talk
I play Get Rich or Die Tryin’ for at least two years. No joke, that should have billions of streams.

Dan Runcie
I feel like he’s still only got a fraction of that cuz Yeah, you know it when however many times platinum, but it’s making the same amount of money, whether I listened to it once and thrown away, or it stayed in my car for a year. And that’s the real benefit of this era. And that’s also why we’re seeing so many of these publishing deals happening now where you have all these big firms that are buying up all these huge catalogs. And a lot of that is because these publishers or these funds that are investing in publishing catalogs are looking and running the numbers of streaming, and now they can identify what are those songs that people are playing time and time and time again.

Flawless Real Talk
And they can identify the hits by seeing the number of streams on a particular record, you put out an album. And three songs are just getting out stream from everything else. It gives you a perspective of what those three songs are, your songs are the songs, you push the radio, those are the songs that you’ve pushed as singles, you know, so it gives us an understanding as well as independent artists, you know, before the labels would go into those numbers, they would only have those numbers. So now we’re able to see in a Linux we’re able to see what cities are listening, but states are listening when it’s time to tour. I look at my top 10 cities on Spotify, and it tells me exactly what cities to go to. It’s its own booking agent right there for you telling you this city and this city is your best shot to sell on a venue. And it’s incredible. It’s incredible, man.

Dan Runcie
What are your best cities? What are your top ones?

Flawless Real Talk
I hit a lot of major cities la Chicago. Houston is definitely major cities. I could look right now and tell you real quick. Top 10 cities Chicago, la Dallas, Toronto, Atlanta, Sydney, Australia shout outs you guys Montreal, Canada, Houston, Texas, New York City and Denver, Colorado. Let’s love to you guys.

Dan Runcie
You got the major markets. You got some sleepers on there too!

Flawless Real Talk
I got some sleepers! Like Toronto. Shoutout Toronto, man.

Dan Runcie
Talk to me about Sydney though. Is there anything specific you’ve done down there?

Flawless Real Talk
No. But Australia shows me a ton of love. I’ve gotten a lot of love from Australia over the past few years civically after rhythm and flow but I definitely have some Australian fans. I was supposed to go there on the World Tour, but it’s been postponed because of COVID. But we’re gonna get back out there, man. We’re gonna get to Sydney and get to Toronto. We’re gonna see all you guys real soon. I can’t wait to get on the road for sure. For now we’re doing virtual shows, which is still amazing. Being able to connect with the fans. I just did the University of North Texas a couple of days ago, we did like a zoom concert. And it was really dope. They did a q&a after, I think it’s really dope to try to connect as much as we can. What everybody during these times, especially,

Dan Runcie
How’s the transition been for you this past year? I know we had hit so many musicians a lot. And you had plans, I’m sure to hit up all those cities. What has it been like, I know that live streaming is now the wave. And it’s many ways what you should be doing and what it sounds like is working to connect. But I’m sure it was still really tough, because you probably had big plans, especially right after rhythm and flow and what you expected to be able to do on the road in 2020.

Flawless Real Talk
2020 our plans were huge, we had an album getting ready to roll out and just really pushed to the world tour. We had a great January in February, and then the COVID, indicated by March. And it kind of left me in a no man’s land type of world where I was being encouraged not to release music because you couldn’t tour we couldn’t tour, we couldn’t really do anything at that moment. It was really hard to try to navigate.

But I think understanding the space that we’re in understanding how long we may be in that space, and adjusting with the times is always something as an independent artist that you have to do. So we’re just adjusting with the times a lot of people are praising us for how we’ve adjusted. But I don’t think it’s really groundbreaking or anything. We’re just literally adjusting with the times like you know, it’s easy to see like right now that you can’t go anywhere. Well live stream, we’re like that’s, you know, it’s a one plus one kind of equation here. So you know, we decided to just go with the live streaming and start really doing that it’s been working out incredible man.

Dan Runcie
How did you go about navigating livestream? Because there’s so many platforms out there, there’s so many different options, whether you want to hop on it live, or if you want to partner with some of these more established platforms that I know you have done? How did you go about determining the best way to navigate that?

Flawless Real Talk
I think what’s important for me was algorithm, user interface, just a lot of different things. And I also didn’t want to just join a platform, I wanted a platform that was going to partner with me. So we began looking for our live stream platform that was gonna partner with us for a concert series is how we started establishing it, and just doing concerts every month, and just kind of building it up on a platform.

And we actually ended up partnering with LIVIT, which is a global streaming platform, and what really was the icebreaker with LIVIT. And really like the reason why I decided to go with them over other platforms was because they were dedicated to making sure that my message got across what I wanted to accomplish during my live streams. They were willing to give back with me like I wanted to make it a charitable thing where we can give back and find ways to give back to charitable causes. And they not only supported that they wanted to match my efforts. So that was like huge.

And we’re also fighting so much for algorithm and visibility as artists and Instagram, on Twitter, Tik Tok, you know, I wanted a platform that was going to partner with me and say, Hey, we got your back. We know we’re trying to accomplish here, we’re going to open it up for you, we’re not going to restrict you. And that was key as well. So it’s been incredible. And we had our first concert November 13, our first live stream interactive concert ever first hip hop interactive console, where I was interacting with the concert goers, we had 1.2 million viewers on the live stream concert. And it was incredible. I mean, it was just a dope experience, I almost felt the energy of the people in a weird way, through the emoji hands through all the comments, seeing everything. It’s been working out incredible.

Dan Runcie
That’s awesome. I feel like if you’re able to partner with a platform that has your partnership and backing with this, then you’re not just one of many that is either as you mentioned, you’re succumb to the algorithm, or you have to play that game. They’re there with you and be able to connect with the audience is a key thing. And I think that’s probably one of the biggest differentiating factors of live stream platforms. It’s a one to many experience regardless. But if you can actually feel those connections, I do think that’s what sets the strong platforms apart.

Flawless Real Talk
And we’re offering things that we don’t offer on any other platforms like I made my first song on LIVIT live. Now my first song I wrote my first live stream song because we agree we’re going to make music with the fans. We went in there we created a song live with the fans. We just put it out the song is called everything. It’s about women empowerment, and empowering our women today. You know, our industry and our culture never taught us to value our women. And I think it’s important for guys like me to spread that message and tell people and tell our younger generation Look, it’s okay to value our women. You know, our Women are amazing, they’re Queens. And that song is really just a testament of that, and I made it live on. And that’s something we’re not doing anywhere else.

Today is Wednesday, every Wednesday nights, we have a talent show on the app where we allow fans to come in showcase their talent, spread love, I did one last week, I found two artists that I’m going to work with, like, you know what I mean, I’m going to actually get on their music and do music with them, and help them get exposure. So we’re finding discovering talent on this app, we’re doing, you know, the live stream concerts, we’re doing music live on the app, we are also doing between the line segment where we’re breaking down some of the most historic hip hop songs in history.

And we’re navigating and explaining exactly what the artist was thinking during this time and just break stuff down and stuff that we’re not offering anywhere else. So it’s a really interactive, connected experience that they’re going to have with me, I look forward to all the fans coming on, we’ve been voting every single day, and having more and more people coming in, join in live streams, and it’s going to be a building process, you know, so we’re just gonna build it up, man, he built it.

Dan Runcie
What is the monetization look like on LIVIT for you? Was there a initial upfront that they were offering? Or in addition to that? Are the fans paying or some other type of ways their sponsorship? What does that look like on your end?

Flawless Real Talk
There’s a gifting type of concept on live it right. So let’s say you’re watching my stream. If you don’t want to pay any money, you know, you get a free gift every five minutes. So you can go ahead and give me that gift every five minutes, after 30 minutes, you get a 10 pack of gifts. Or you can also purchase coins through the app and donate coins, little animations that you want to make happen. It’s all fun, interactive stuff. And what we’re doing is part of those proceeds are going to be charitable causes.

So right now we’re doing a toy drive for the Hasbro Children’s Hospital and the Boston Children’s Hospital. And we’ve already gotten about 150,000 coins towards that charitable cause. And we’re gonna probably hit a million coin today for that charitable cause. And then, you know, we’re gonna livestream us going to the hospitals, bringing those toys for the kids, showing our efforts over the month together, while we’re having fun while we’re having concerts. You know, we’re also raising money for charity. And then at the end of the month, we go, we make those charitable donations, we live stream, and everybody gets to feel good about being a part of something special.

While we’re all having fun, and there’s no pressure to donate like the app is completely free, you can come and just enjoy the show. You don’t have to donate anything doesn’t cost anything to watch. It’s just if you choose to, and you want to be a part of the giving, then you’re more than welcome to But either way, we do this every year tradition for us to donate, we have toy drives every year for the children’s hospitals. So now it’s just a way to just give back on a greater scale.

Dan Runcie
That’s awesome. You really get to serve those that need it. And I love when platforms find a way to at least have some of that money that’s coming through serving the causes for you all that need the most. And you mentioned earlier that they’re matching all the contributions, that’s dope.

Flawless Real Talk
Every month, we’re going to pick a different charitable cause. So we’re just going to have different causes. And then if you feel strongly about the particular cause that we’re donating to that month, and you can donate if not, you’re more than welcome to just come in and join the show and connect with me on that level. And it’s completely free.

Dan Runcie
You mentioned a few times about algorithms and some of the challenges whether it’s Instagram, or the digital streaming providers and being able to reach your fans and your potential fans as well. What are some of the other direct ways that you are using to be able to connect directly with your fans?

Flawless Real Talk
I think the best way is to try to bring your fans outside of a social media, connecting with them via text, phone numbers, emails to have that you know, Instagram goes down tomorrow, a lot of people aren’t going to know what to do. So we don’t own Instagram, right? So we have no control over what happens. So we can build a fan base, you can build the following to build a platform. But if that platform disappears, you have to have some sort of database of your supporters.

So what we did was we came up with a song called “New Phone,” right after rhythm and flow came out featuring Troy Man who’s on the show as well. Shout out Troy Man, I actually put a phone number in my verse. And we had the phone number easter egg in all over the videos, people were like, is that really your number. So they call in a number of texting people back, I’m texting a bunch of fans. And we continue to get new numbers and new people calling in that number because the videos on YouTube is getting views every day, the songs on Spotify or Apple Music. So I use that as a way to kind of give away a phone number where they can reach me and also be able to connect with them on that level. So for me the connection is beyond social media, in a sense, it’s through email or through text. We have a new type of technology. I can’t speak on it yet but it’s about to be groundbreaking and we’re gonna be at the forefront of that too. And we’re gonna be able to connect with them in that way. So it’s really amazing to see how technology and using AI come in one on one and what you To utilize everything to our favor,

Dan Runcie
What platform are you using for the texting?

Flawless Real Talk
I can’t remember exactly what my team are using. But they said that all up, they just gave me the number and the phone comes right through. But they sent that all up. But yeah, I can’t tell you that right this second.

Dan Runcie
Hearing that reminds me of that Ryan Leslie SuperPhone story, because he was signed to the record label, he didn’t feel like the record label was supporting that album for his second album. So then he’s like, Okay, I need to have a direct way to reach the audience regardless, and he then collects the phone numbers. And it was only like, 15,000 people that he reached out to was able to sell them the album directly that reached out to them to sell the concert tickets as well. And that sounds like the same type of thing that you’re building as well. And even adding the phone number into the song like that’s that Mike Jones, Soulja Boy, the thing that worked really well for them. People still know those numbers by heart.

Flawless Real Talk
Yeah, because it was in the rap, you know, so that now they know the number. We never shy away from tactics that we’ve seen in the past that work, right. So it’s like, we’ve seen this work in the past, why not implement that into our thing. Now, these ideas are never a wrong idea, you could do it and you can collect 500 phone numbers, and it wasn’t a fail, you can’t fail these things, you can only try and continue to build it up. You know. So like, even with this limit thing, like, we have 900,000 people on Instagram, you can’t expect 900,000 people to download the app the first day, you have to show them what they’re missing. So now we do the concert. 1.2 million people tune in from all over the world. And tons of people were like, I missed this. So now we’re gonna have 5 million people next concert, because it’s a growth process, and it just continues to grow. So for anybody out there that does something and it doesn’t generate you numbers or the money you want or the attention you want right away, it’s never gonna happen that way, or it’s never worth it, it has to be a building process. So always continue to build and set that tone from the first one, always just make it build, and think one day at a time, and you’ll be successful for sure.

Dan Runcie
And it’s really about understanding where all the platforms sit in the ecosystem, because we talk a lot about the importance of email and the importance of text message, and those stuff matters. But in order to get those numbers in the first place, you still need something at the top, and you have a 900,000 Instagram followers helps to do that. So yes, you’re fully aware that if Instagram shuts down, that doesn’t work out well for you. But you also know that there’s a value of still focusing on that, but still wanting to ultimately have that direct relationship in the end.

Flawless Real Talk
And that direct relation like Ryan Leslie, he got it, obviously was after he was already in a label, but he understood it after the fact when he did that, because he’s like, if I’m independent, which I think he is now, he’s second, I only sell 40,000 Records, to the industry standard 40,000 Records is not a lot of records, right? The labels not happy with that. That’s because the label is making the money. But if you’re an independent artist, and you’re making 100% of your money, and you’re selling albums, or you know, let’s just say $10 standard at 40,000 people buy your album. That’s almost half a million dollars for that artists to reinvest into his career.

I don’t think a lot of people understand that, as an independent artist, you don’t need to sell millions of records. To be successful, I dropped the album right after rhythm and flow, we came in number four on the iTunes hip hop charts. And we didn’t sell a ton ton of records. But we were super successful, because we’re independent, in stand. So it’s like, we don’t have to sell millions of records to be successful, you just have to just really connect with a certain amount of fans that are going to really support you. And even with the only fans thing a lot of artists are going on there now and offer an exclusive content. Because of the way social media has changed the algorithm. The people that hit the Follow button, still don’t see your posts. That’s insane to me. I build a following and I have to fight for these people. I could see if I want outside eyes, then you charge me a pet. But you’re telling me in order for me to reach the people that themselves hit follow because they were interested in my content, and they can’t see my content. That’s insanity. You know what I mean?

Dan Runcie
It’s crazy. As someone that’s also working in this same game, trying to build my own media company up it is one of the most frustrating things and similar Yeah, I’m trying to do the same type of thing. But what I like about what you’re highlighting is that yes, you have a smaller pie as a independent artists relative to what you may have as a signed artist. However, you own that pie. That is a much larger share of that pie from an economics perspective, you don’t need to do the same things that the artists on Republic Records or Columbia need to do in order to be a success.

Flawless Real Talk
That’s why it’s important to connect with the core fans that are really going to support you. The only fans aspect is like, fans aren’t gonna subscribe to you for $10 a month, if they don’t really rock with you. And sometimes I rather have 40,000 diehard fans that are gonna just be there with me on this journey, then 900,000 fly by fans who are really interested who might have hit follow because they saw the show, and then they never saw another post from me because the algorithm is horrible. It’s really tricky, you know, with how you do it. But their connection with the fans is extremely important. It’s the number one thing,

Dan Runcie
Who are you following right now in the game? From an independent perspective? Are there anyone that you’re looking at? Like, oh, I really like what they’re doing. Because I think for Meteor perspective, people are always looking at chance, or Russ, who you with that?

Flawless Real Talk
I was gonna say Russ. Russ, I don’t think it’s no longer independent. But his story is a lot similar to mine in the sense of continuously putting your head down and working, and then using like a tunecore, to distribute your music, and then watching that money grow every month. And what I loved about him is a lot of people looked at him as cocky. And I think his choice of wording might have not always been the best. But his message when he came in and was like I did this myself, can’t tell me nothing. Was everything for an artist like me, because I’m like, Yes, we do. Yes, we did. Because he’s just like me, he’s doing it. He’s pushing it. He’s gotten to that point. And he’s not shying away from the process. He’s telling you look, I started on Tunecore. He’s showing his receipts, you know what I mean? I started making this much. And then I built it built to build it by continuously releasing music and continuing to be at that.

Flawless Real Talk
I don’t model anything I do after him. But seeing someone like him make it in that space that he’s in being radio being mainstream. It’s like, yo, we don’t have to really sign a deal just to get there. We can push this thing all the way through. Because sometimes it’s like, you push the independent level to a certain point, can you take the deal, and then you go over the top. But after seeing that, it’s like, you really might be able to take it over the top with the independence. You know what I mean? Like you really can’t. And he took a distribution I think or situation after the fact but he was already monumental independent. And chances are another example as well. Tec nine as an independent artists. You know, I did my first tour with Tech N9ne, 48 city tour. He’s the one that showed me that I didn’t need to be famous, famous, famous to be touring and making money. I could build this thing from the ground up. It was my first tour 48 cities, and I watched 1000s of people go crazy for a guy that I did not know, or my city did not know who this guy was. And I was like, Whoa, I have the wrong perspective here, what this business is?

So I started doing it my way, whoever rocks or what I’m doing, I don’t swear my music. I don’t troll. And what you see is what you get, there’s no gimmicks, it’s positive music, I got party stuff, I got stories. If you rock with it, you rock with it. If you don’t, there’s 1000s of other artists that you can listen to. And being able to do that now in this space is amazing, because I’m not thirsty for nothing.

Dan Runcie
It really allows you to have that ownership and control of your career in a way where you don’t have to sacrifice this. You don’t have to do things that you don’t want to do. It’s a very powerful position to be in. Yeah, absolutely. Where you mentioned Russ, I saw he recently posted his Tunecore screenshot. He was clearing $100,000 a week. That’s legit. And I still remember one of my friends that texted me it was a couple years ago when Russ had sold out the Staples Center. And I think for a lot of people,people were just like, Whoa, we were not expecting this. I had at least a few friends text me because they know I cover this stuff. They’re like, should I know who this is? Like, Who is that? And I mean, at that point, I was following it for a while. But that speaks to what we’re saying the fact that someone can be that successful and you don’t know who they are, speaks a lot to what their game is and what they’re not trying to do. Like he hasn’t spent time trying to convince you to be his fan. There’s power in that as well.

Flawless Real Talk
And I think people that grow with you too, they see it. So I got so many people that were following me in 2014, 15 that came to my shows. And now see me now and say Yo we’re proud of you man. You didn’t start doing this and this and this like even when on the show a cardi b we didn’t know what to expect. And then you know you did everything we expected you to you stay true. And that is goes a long way with the connection. With the fans because they smell you being phony, you could lose a lot of people that were with you in the beginning. And those people that would do in the beginning, I’m the first people to buy your album, trust me. I’ve got fans I met in 2011. That downloaded live it and we’re watching the live stream concert, took a nine years of support here, that they haven’t seen something that make them say, I’m not rocking with this guy no more. I take pride in that. And building and growing with my fan base. And then seeing over the years and seeing us get to BET Cyphers and Netflix and so many Plex we’re on TRL. And then they see me and it’s the same guy. And I take so much pride in that man.

Dan Runcie
It definitely is powerful. And being able to keep that over time is key.

Flawless Real Talk
Yeah, for sure.

Dan Runcie
I’m curious, what is your take on some of the more popular trends that have been happening the past few years, and specifically about gaming? I know a lot of this has been what the signed artists have been doing, whether it’s Travis Scott, or little NAS X on Fortnite, or Roblox but what are your thoughts on gaming and hip hop? And do you see that as a potential for you?

Flawless Real Talk
Man, it’s amazing because we got to think about my hip hop was created in New York and it wasn’t even accepted. And now it runs the world. Think about it, you know, hip hop, you see and Snoop Dogg doing Corona commercials you see in the car commercials with the gerbils, and they got the hat on with the boombox and everything around us as hip hop influenced everything. And now we’ve got gaming, and we’ve got Travis Scott, people doing concerts on Fortnite and on games. That’s a whole world. I don’t know how many people are on that game. But think about it. It’s millions, right? So now they’re all listening to Travis Scott, in that one shot.

And it goes back to the old ways of distribution. We’re in the trunk, where we’re trying to please buy the CD, listen to the CD, this is one person, you know how much effort it took to get one person to listen. Now you press a button, and you come up as a giant on this game. Millions of people can watch you in this exact moment. It’s incredible, man. It’s incredible. And it’s cool for the gamers because now it shows that the gaming companies are in tune with the culture. And they got Travis Scott concert happening on Fortnite, like what does that even mean? It means they know that the culture is important. They’re also now supporting the culture by putting somebody like Travis Scott, they’re also paying for that. So it’s putting money in the pockets back into hip hop is putting money back into hip hop back into the families that are doing hip hop. It’s just a cycle of influence.

And the more people use hip-hop as influence, the more powerful we become, you know, as artists as voices how many artists stepped in now for this voting man? You know, I mean, I did a bt cipher. And I did the political cypher with Jack Harlow and Rapsody. And it was about the presidential election and about social injustice. We have a voice. We’re powerful now. I just got a call yesterday from the Governor, like I just got the key to my city. were powerful. Now. The governor is like, Can you help me, please, I need help talking to these kids. They’re calling me bro. Because I am a hip hop artist, you understand. And I also represent with a certain class, but hip hop is doing that the governor is calling me she need to hip hop influence is crazy.

Dan Runcie
That’s dope, too. And it goes back to where we started things. You can put Rhode Island on the map as a hip hop artist in a way that others can. That’s dope. Are there specific things you have in place with the governor?

Flawless Real Talk
Not right now. But you know, we’re working on stuff. Like I said, I just got the key to the city last year, I was a great shout out to Mayor Elorza for that. I think now it’s about just being careful with how we speak to the younger generation and who we choose speak to the young generation, I think they’re starting to see that and now they’re bringing people that can relate to these kids.

You know, I mean, like when I was in school, I’m not gonna lie, like I couldn’t relate to my teachers. There was nobody there that I could relate to, if they would have brought somebody like me in and I could see somebody that looks like me, that’s from where I’m from that overcame a lot of the obstacles I’m dealing with, and that might have gave me more hope early on. So I’ll take full pride in being that person, I get what you need. I got you, whatever the city needs from me, you know, especially giving me the recognition that they did. I appreciate it. So like, I’m all for it, man. I’m all for being that example, for the youth, for sure. And that’s why I stopped swearing to my music. There’s no profanity in my music. It’s not corny, and just choose not to swear. So now you can play it around the kids. You can play any way you are not in that I take pride in that.

Dan Runcie
What do you think 2021 will look like for you. I feel like there’s a lot of unknown right now in terms of touring, but you’re already planning A lot of this, when do you think you’ll be able to get back on the road?

Flawless Real Talk
Well, you know, we can never tell with the pandemic right now. You know, it’s back and forth, I think we’re about to get locked down again, for me focus right now on living, you know, I’m focused right now on continuing to connect with the fans, continuing to use my platform to make a difference, figuring out how I can make a difference with this charitable causes and having living match my donations. And using my platform in a time where I can easily say up, there’s nothing we could do, I could easily just say that I could say, you know, what, kick back on financially not hurting, I’m fine. She has a wash. But that doesn’t feel right. Like, you know, I could be making a difference somehow, while I connect with my fans and keep that connection, that’s important.

So this is the perfect thing, we’re going to continue to focus on charitable causes every single month, we’re going to see who needs what, at that moment, something could happen tomorrow. But we need to shift our attention. And we focus there, you know, we just want to make a difference. But we’re also just having fun on LIVIT connecting with the fans having concerts, like I said, 1.2 million views the first time, we’re looking at 5 million viewers this time, you know, I mean, it was so much fun, interacting with the people doing these weekly shows, you know, the talent show every Wednesday, seeing new talent come in, we’re really just having fun, man, but we’re also making a difference at the same time. So until the world opens up, whether that be in the spring, in a year from now, we’re gonna continue to do this live thing we’re going to continue to push on there make a difference with these charitable causes. And then when the world opens up, man are common with that world. So I’m willing to just shut it down. And everybody’s gonna be so excited to be out for sure. So anybody coming out for sure.

Dan Runcie
Yeah, definitely. All right. Well, before we let you go, do you have anything that you want to plug or that you want to let the Trapital audience know about? And there’s a lot of people listening, not just artists, but people that are creators themselves, and understanding how to navigate things from an indie perspective, and you’ve clearly been doing that, and the advice for them.

Flawless Real Talk
First and foremost, I want to say to take things one day at a time, the moment that I stopped looking at the overall picture of being like this, big artists that like being number one, and having that Grammy and doing all it begins to frustrate you because you start to see where you are and where you want to be. It makes you impatient and makes you more frustrated, as opposed to thinking one day at a time. Like what are we going to do today to help us get to that next step? Not only what can we do right now, because if you’re not working towards it right now, you’re just daydreaming, you continuously daydreaming and getting frustrated about it.

So every day you have to work towards your dream, take it one day at a time. And then you’re going to look up one day, and you’re gonna see how far you’ve come. And it’s gonna be like, it doesn’t even feel like that. You know what I mean? Like, I feel like I have so much more to go. I remember back in 2010, I was like, crying in tears, because I was a finalist in a contest to be in the BET cipher. And I didn’t win. And I was like, so distraught, and I was like, I’m gonna work hard, and I’m going to make it there one day, you know, it’s 10 years later, and I’ve already done to BET cyphers, Netflix, so many things. And it doesn’t feel I feel like I have so much more to go. Just because I started really taking it one day at a time. So just take it one day at a time and work every day. What are you going to do today to get to that next level?

As far as plugging anything? You know, all my music is on on Spotify, Apple Music, everything just search flows for talk. You can follow me on all social media platforms at @FlawlessRI. If my city of Rhode Island I always read. And yeah, I appreciate the love just dropped a new single court everything for our queens, letting them know that we appreciate you. And yeah, man, we’re good.

Dan Runcie
You just motivated me with that speech that you gave. I don’t know if you’ve done this, but you might got a little side hustle as a motivational speaker!

Flawless Real Talk
You know what, once the job is done, I would love to do that. But right now, I think the job’s not done. So we’re going to continue to just stay focused, and just push forward. But I appreciate that man. Maybe a little a couple years from now down the line. We could definitely motivate and tell people about our story for sure.

Dan Runcie
Definitely. Flawless Real Talk. It’s been a pleasure, bro.

Flawless Real Talk
Appreciate you king, man. Thank you so much for having me.

Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

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