When taking in The Antiheroes it’s clear on any track that they never lack on expressing their opinion, whether the subject is the quality and integrity of music or something community based. Separately, as first experienced on Latex & Perfume ; you experience a more personal side of the two Toronto artist’s Sha Prince and Flex The Antihero. Announcing SALEM was on it’s way just before Sha Prince’s solo project, there was a built anticipation leading up to the first time we heard it. Hands down, once taking it in fully and hitting repeat dozens of times you could tell this is a body of work that you could not get bored listening to. Both SALEM and Latex & Perfume; they stand as a moment in time. First experiencing SALEM it’s seen as what it is, a great in-depth project that is an ode to where Flex grew up which reflects on his past, how he’s moved on pursuing his passion to create music and more. If you look at it for what it could be, it’s a moment in time you can look back to when artist’s like Flex further their success and really look at how far they’ve come.
The journey isn’t always easy as Flex mentions in The Come Up Shows recent interview talking about SALEM; sometimes you go through stages of not speaking with anyone because of work, there’s frustration involved and you never know what may be going on in someone’s personal life. As an artist, drawing that energy into your music can really resign-ate with the listener making the whole listening experience a moment in time for them as well. We definitely enjoyed being able to listen to SALEM early thanks to SmashMouth Entertainment and Flex The Antihero and we know you will to once it drops tomorrow! Read our track by track break down of SALEM below.
1. “Salem Pt. 1 – The Burbs” (Prod: M Mac & Emerson Brooks)
The introduction to SALEM, “Salem Pt. 1 – The Burbs” immediately sets the tone for the project. A chilling spoken word intro beginning off with “such a beautiful ugly place, isn’t it?” leading you into the drop leaves you wondering what’s about to come next. As the first track that really ties everything together, Flex talks on where he came from, paying respects to where he grew up and what he has set out to achieve. “Welcome to Salem” captions it all off. At this point you’re thinking, “if the intro was that crazy, it’s about to get even better”. Trust it does.
2. “The Wicked” ft. Allan Rayman (Prod: M Mac & Emerson Brooks)
Leading as one of the singles for SALEM, “The Wicked” kind of rolls off the intro where you’re introduced to the goals, “The Wicked” is about setting off and pursuing those goals, and some of the feelings that may derive from moving away from home to do so. Starting off with “Say goodbye to regret, I sit and wonder what would come next, pay no mind to those who oppose the fact that I’ve grown, what did you expect. I don’t want to waste away just yet. I don’t want to say I came and just went.” and taking more in-depth through the track, you see the passion and the drive Flex has. Allan Rayman contributing to the hook really sums it all up in a powerful way. Without a doubt this is one of my personal favorite songs off SALEM.
3. “Build and Destroy” ft. D-Sisive (Prod: Emerson Brooks & M Mac)
Whenever The Antiheroes get together with D-Sisive, they create something amazing. Check “Blow Up” for example. So when Flex and D-Sisive team up for a track called “Build and Destroy”, your first thoughts shouldn’t be anything different. “Build or Destroy” gets into some of the flaws of the industry, how they’re better crafted artist’s and may get overlooked at times. Without complaining though. You can see the level of artist’s Flex and D-Sisive are on this one, as any song they individually do. By now you really get a feel for the raw production on the project as well. With high’s and low’s it all blends so well. M Mac and Emerson Brooks definitely captured the vibe of SALEM perfectly. Scratches, lyrics, a banging instrumental; “Build or Destroy” is one you HAVE to crank.
4. “Big Dreams” (Prod: Emerson Brooks & M Mac)
The first single released, “Big Dreams” is one of the few records on SALEM that really stray from the boom-bap influenced sound. A more “radio friendly” you could say. Although lyrics do not lack at all. Flex mentions how SALEM isn’t particularly a concept album but most of the songs tie in on a similar topic. That being moved away from home in pursuit of his dreams, though not forgetting where he comes from. “Big Dreams” has already been on heavy rotation and I don’t see that slowing down anytime soon.
5. “Medicated” ft. Emerson Brooks & DillanPonders (Prod: Emerson Brooks & M Mac)
Another early teaser to SALEM, “Medicated” is a record that speaks more on the ways we ease the stress, a sort of temporary relief. You could take it as a “party” or “hype” record also. With a more trap influenced sound, you get a collaboration you wouldn’t expect but it all comes together so well. Flex teaming up with label-mate DillanPonders makes “Medicated” a sort of step from the norm, but it wouldn’t seem so once you take it in. Mixing nearly the whole album, Emerson Brooks jumps on the hook adding a bit of swing to it.
My interpretation of “Violet”, Flex is being more reflective, letting his stress out while remaining hopeful of the journey. Almost as if speaking to someone close to him, letting everything out as it calms down during the hook. This being one of the more personal songs, it makes for a song most will be able to relate to in some way, shape or form. Being able to get back up after falling down takes some strength, Flex definitely shows his strength on “Violet”. If you’re a fan of mood music, “Violet” will be a track you’ll gravitate to for sure. By now you notice how seamless every track is on SALEM too.
7. “War” (Prod: Emerson Brooks & M Mac)
“War” takes the role as the anthem for SALEM, heavy bass, the distorted horns, the way the drums all blend in. If you turn this one up you would almost feel as if you’re marching to battle, Flex brings a hunger on this one that will prove nobody can compete. Speaking on how he plans to prove he’s the one everyone should be checking for. I could say almost every song on SALEM has grown to be my favorite, “War” is one for me that stand out among them all though. Sha Prince hyping it up throughout the song. Flex mentioned there’s a video coming out for this as well soon, I can only imagine how crazy that one is.
8. “All I Knew” ft. Armond & Sha Prince (Prod: M Mac & Emerson Brooks)
“All I Knew” provides a more melodic, piano heavy sound where Flex gets more personal, speaking to those he’s close to that he may be distant from at times while on pursuit of his goals. Recruiting two people like Flex said, that he feels know him best on a personal level, Armond and Sha Prince are the perfect fit for the song. Listening to it you’ll see why. Armond offering some strong advice, Sha doing the same while showing he can relate. “All I Knew” is almost like a conversation. With every topic spoke about leading up until this point on SALEM, “All I Knew” could be seen as a sort of conclusion as well.
9. “Salem Pt. 2 – Applause” (Prod: Metcalfe)
Metcalfe taking care of the production on “Salem Pt. 2”, you get a more trap/bass tone on the last song to tie everything in. “Salem Pt. 1” being a more introductory song, how Flex escaped from his surroundings moving on. “Salem Pt. 2” touches more on being away, not planning to look back. Bringing up points like how he’s came a long way and people should “applause” him for that, as the title hints on. Everything is pretty direct and straight forward on SALEM which is why I feel people will relate to it.
10. “Lame” (Prod: M Mac & Emerson Brooks)
As you go through the album, it seems as if each song gets better and better. “Lame”, sticks to the overall mystique/dark sound of the project, poking at artist’s who may only create music to make a name for themselves with no intent to benefit the culture itself. Flex doesn’t hold back on this one, and how fast the flow gets throughout this is phenomenal!
11. “Rolling Dice” ft. ANTHM (Prod: M Mac & Emerson Brooks)
Linking up with another amazing lyricist, Flex teams up with New York emcee ANTHM on “Rolling Dice”. If you’re a fan of pure bars, I’d recommend this joint. Like I said, Flex doesn’t hold back on SALEM opening up with “Good riddance if you were taking a shot, from the sidelines praying to shine knowing your not”. ANTHM going in strong with bars like “it’s deeper than rap, I sleep when I nap, you eager to jab”.
12. “The Great Escape” (Prod: Emerson Brooks & M Mac)
“The Great Escape” serves as the last gem on SALEM, painting a vivid picture of the journey to make it. The up’s, down’s and struggles during the fight to overcome all the obstacles faced. You could say “The Great Escape” sums up all the emotion presented on SALEM , not emotion as in being sappy but more frustration, a lust to prove greatness, emotion brought up from having an opinion.
As a whole, SALEM is a body of work that is one hundred percent quality music. I haven’t heard something I enjoyed listening to like SALEM at all yet this year besides a select few songs. This is an album you get for FREE that is going to have a lasting effect once you take it in fully. Flex always keep his integrity,SALEM may have stemmed from some dark points he has hit, as he said in an interview with The Come Up Show last week “I hit some pretty dark points, but those ended up being the most inspiring” but overall I think Flex will find a lot of light shining his way after SALEM hits the masses.
As I said before, SALEM is essentially a moment in time that can’t be duplicated. Always pushing forward, it’s almost a means to get those feelings out and move on from it. With all that being said, it shows SALEM is nothing short of timeless. Though it may not be visible at first, sometime in the future I guarantee it will be clear. I thoroughly enjoyed Flex The Antihero’s project SALEM as it instantly made my top projects of the year list and I bet you’ll say the same once it drops tomorrow!