Floco Torres

Floco Torres

 Willingboro, New Jersey, USA
BandHip HopAvant-garde

Floco Torres is hip-hop, updated and remodeled. His music is witty, smart and passionate. He connects live with an audience in an unexpected way, sometimes transcendent of the more obvious genres, falling somewhere between one-man arena rock and Otis Redding-like soul.

Biography

FLOCO TORRES
Spelled with an O and one C

The sun hovers high in a cloudless summer sky, hanging overhead like someone's skeptical teacher. It's 90 degrees outside with 80% humidity, and there's this 22-year-old kid in a white V-neck undershirt, Blues Brothers shades, close-cropped hair and a black backpack spotted with multi-colored dinosaurs. He'll say his name is Floco Torres, hand you a CD and sort of bounce when he walks away. You'll reluctantly listen to it because in the "Dirty South," you hear about hip-hop but think about rap and gettin' crunk. Three years after Dave Chappelle's impersonation of Lil' Jon, you've grown wary of even its most ironic incarnations.

When "Hot Like the Sun" comes on, you kick yourself. Starts off like another "bangin' club hit," something that makes you want to dance--just as you suspected. Just before you kick it out, fearful that's it's just going to be another one of those songs that repeats the name of some fad move, he says, "I'm a galaxy, spit stars in the air/ Roman numerals on my watch so I shine like glares." So you stop and listen.

I want the top of the ladder
And nothing in between
I lyrically touch your soul
As I sideswipe your spleen
If you don't know what I mean
then just chill and nod your head.
Give the people what they want
But I'll do me instead.

Wow. What a cocky little shit! But the good kind. Bragadocious the way you wish you could be, like when you're talking smack in the mirror at home. But better. More than clever--smart and biting.

And like you, the kid is a little weird. He's stocky, like a jock, but wears nerd glasses and doesn't care if anyone knows he likes iCarly or that Jennifer Aniston movie, The Breakup. As he says in "Beastie Flow", he's "the only rapper in skinny jeans and moonboots", so he knows he's different. And although he can bow his neck and act tough, Floco is still vulnerable to goofy mistakes, but he's not ashamed. That's why you hear him laugh so much (listen to "I'm Laughin'" when you get the chance).

Case in point, he conned his way in front of a record executive but didn't get much further than telling him his stage name, which was "Kev" at the time, short for Kevin. "He just started laughing," Floco says. "He was in one of those desk chairs that spins around, and he just kept going around and around laughing."

Fortunately, he had a cool nickname growing up. The mother of a childhood friend called him Floco, so when he found out he needed a better stage name than "Kev," he went with that.

"I didn't know Spanish so I thought it meant 'cool'," he says. "Only later did I learn that it actually means 'skinny.' My friend's mother passed when I was 15, and I was very close to her. Her last name was Torres, so 'Floco Torres' is kind of a tribute to her."

Born in Willingboro, New Jersey, he grew up five months at a time in places from New York to Pennsylvania, with a few years in the South thrown in for good measure. He's in Georgia now, visiting family and building a base in the Southeast as he'd been doing back home. It's been a little culture shock to say the least, but standing out just fuels the fire.

In an area dominated musically and culturally by mainstream country and thug rap, he's a dude channeling a variety of influences, not only in his music but also in his very walk. That's drawn a lot of attention from folks who feel just as isolated by their upstream efforts for individuality. They identify because he uses sarcasm and self-denigrating humor to defend the big gaping wounds on his shirt-sleeve heart. And they flock because he funnels it all back through a passion and intensity on the stage that matches the lyrical wit and charm in his recordings.

There are moments when, in the throes of a crowd-rousing chorus, you think he could be an old school soul singer, pouring it out like there'll never be another performance, like there are generations of mixed-up sorrow and satisfaction that he's got to unleash. Then, just as impressively, he starts a chuckle and the whimsy returns, playfully eschewing objectification, telling all the ladies in the crowd, "I'm not trying to be rude/I'm not lookin' at your boobs/I'm just checking out your sneakers." (from the song "Chicks With Kicks" featuring Al K!NG).

He's just a dude being himself as best he can, navigating the gauntlet of simply being alive. Just like everyone else, except he's recorded 300 songs in the process. His ambitions are no different than most folks: he wants to make a living and be able take care of his family. He labors in the studio and on the stage. There isn't a blueprint for what he's doing, but he stays on top of all his options, anchoring a seat in the bookstore, combing over magazines and researching changes in the world around him, keeping his toes dipped in several different cultural ponds, and looking for an opportunity to reach more people.

If his gut and that growing throng of fans are right, he won't hav