For Solomon Ray, the dynamics between his latest two collaborators Heartthrob Robb (also known as Rob.B) and Flykingi can best be described in terms of the Powerpuff Girls. “Flyking is Bubbles, because he’s so bubbly and fun to be around,” he says. “Robby is really Blossom: a sweetheart, yet a little feisty. Meanwhile, I’m Buttercup because I take everything very seriously and very studious.”
You can see that dynamic firsthand in the trio’s new video for “Lose Ya Mind,” a fun, island-infused rap track that sees all three singers owning their own individual identities to create an infectious track that will have you up and dancing. “We make them dance, and we make them lose their mind/ Everything will be just fine if you fall into this groove” Robb sings on the chorus.
The video, as well, sees all three dancing around different colored rooms, with each exhibiting different animé-inspired “superpowers” while they spit their bars. “Since we each had the opportunity to showcase our super ability on the track I wanted that to be reflected in the visual,” Robb tells Billboard. “Being a gay man in hip-hop, you kinda have to be your own superhero. We came together to defeat the notion that the genre is not a safe space for us to exist.”
The discussion of being queer in hip-hop is one all three artists are all too familiar with. With Lil Nas X‘s recent triumph atop the Billboard Hot 100, some have begun to declare that hip-hop is finally becoming an inclusive space for queer artists looking to show their skills. Flykingi, who has became a relatively well-known name within the battle rap community, says he sees the progress that’s been made, but wants to make sure that proper credit is being given. “I feel like out rappers like myself, Rob and Solomon have each made small steps for LGBTQ man, to compliment the giant leap for LGBTQ mankind Lil Nas X has made.”
Ray agrees that positive steps have been made, recalling an instance from “more than 10 years ago” when he was starting out as a rapper when a radio host treated him and some fellow queer artists poorly on their show. But Ray also points out that the real change still needs to come, and will come when the community stands up to support queer rappers and reggaetoneros like himself. “More often than not, queer artists get pushed to the side in favor of pop divas. I’m starting to see a slow shift in that, and us being included,” he said. “But as far as genres, no. You don’t see much in hip-hop or Latin urban genres. And that’s depressing.”
Robb adds that queer artists in hip-hop often have to work “three times harder” than their pop cohorts, making the challenges they face even greater. “Gay artists already have the disadvantage of our sexuality working against us, but adding being a person of color and being associated with a genre of music that has been so notoriously hyper-masculine and homophobic doubles down on the hurdles we face,” he says. “I think having the backing of our community would make it feel less like we’re out here fighting alone.”
But for Flykingi, the progress that has already been made is only a sign of even better things to come: “Throughout history, things have changed for the better and I am proud to be alive during a time where a alpha-male homophobic landscape is shifting,” he says. “What a time to be alive!”
Check out Heartthrob Robb, Flykingi and Solomon Ray’s new video for “Lose Ya Mind” below: