Taken from Vents Magazine (Apr 10, 2019)
INTERVIEW: Hip Hop Duo Beach Lion
by RJ Frometa
What role does Sarasota play in your music?
Chris Wanta akaAnything But Broke (ABB): Sarasota will always be the place that everything started for us. It's a place we grew up spending our younger years learning and growing with the music scene because we developed it. From founding festivals like Earthdance Florida in 2006 with American Idol finalist Shyesha Mercado, obtaining a world record for 'World's Largest Chalk Art' with Sarasota Chalk Festival and fundraising thousands of dollars for children with autism The ABA Academy Inc. it has been an honor to serve the community. I don't think it matters how rich or famous we become since we both will always represent Sarasota on some level.
Matteo Kelly AKA FloJangles (Flo): Ever since I was young, I wanted to stamp my name on Sarasota. I wanted to perform and throw shows and cultivate art, music, and culture. I started in 2000 throwing shows to fund my free art and culture magazine "Porch". It was a free magazine filled with poets, musicians, writers, and artists. That really started my musical/poetical journey here. I started right downtown throwing multi genre shows and events, mainly because I wanted to bring back the day's of the "Depot" which threw underground shows right where Maddison's Grill is on Main St.. I always was trying to out do my last event. I wanted a place for teens and adults to have a good time without just hanging out in the streets wondering what there's to do. I ran multiple open mics to find the artists an musicians, threw hundreds of shows to present new artists and musicians to the public, and then decided to start bringing major headliners and throwing larger events. Major headliners wouldn't usually come to Florida because it was a dead end. But because my events were doing so well, I was able to start talking bigger bands into coming through. Such as: Green Jello, The Queers, Murphy's Law, Michael Graves of the Misfits, Del The Funky Homosapien, etc. I was providing Sarasota with spots to express themselves and also give myself a stage to perform on too.
How KRS-One has influenced your writing?
ABB: For me KRS One has made me focus on authenticity in my music making tastes. Growing up watching his music videos on television he not only made me want to stay true to Hip Hop but true to myself as a person. I think that the biggest thing music artists forget today is to be true to their voice and to strive to sound like the best version of themselves instead of emulating someone else's signature sound.
Flo: KRS-One is just one of many influences. Bradley Nowell of Sublime said it best, "And I know because of KRS-One". He was one of many MCs that inspired me to write conscience lyrics. It would have been so easy to write gagsta rap or mumble rap. But, because of artists like KRS-One I stayed on the path of writing intelligent lyrics. I always loved the Old School feel, that's why there's always a hint of it in every one of my songs. He's one of the few who inspired me to be a teacher through poetry and rhyme.
What's been like to work with such a legend (KRS-One)?
ABB: At Beach Lion we have been blessed to work with many legends in the entertainment industry including Bone Thugs N Harmony, Joan Jett and Steve Aoki. We even threw sold out tours with Afroman when I was his official DJ. That's why for us KRS One isn't another notch in our belt or something we take lightly. The Boombox Tour is a chance to bring a notable hip hop artist to the Florida music scene when many promoters have given up on the genre. We want to keep hip hop alive in the music scene and keep it violence free. The artists we tend to book are more feel good based in their lyrical content. KRS One is the grathfather of conscious rap. The genre has gained more notability in the industry with artists like Kendrick Lamar winning a Pulitzer Prize. We simply want to follow in these foot steps.
Flo: I've hand-picked the artists I've wanted to perform with and then did everything I could to bring them or play the show. Such as Methodman and Redman, Cypress Hill, Bone Thugs n Harmony, Ballyhoo, Shwayze, Joan Jet, Alien Ant Farm, Paul Rogers, Long Beach Dub Allstars, Afroman, Del The Funky Homosapien, TWISTA, and so many more. KRS-One has been on my list since 2005. It is an honor to be able to perform with him! It took years to team up with the right people in order to bring him to Sarasota.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than on your own?
ABB: Definitely. I think that collaborations are all about listening to the other person as much as communicating with them properly. Producing art together means you have to be in harmony with the other person and at peace with them. You can't shut that person out and think you're going to do it all on your own.
Flo: Collaborating is sometimes the most fun. It breaks you out of whatever shell you have personally and forces you to make something new, with a totally different energy involved. There has to be a balance of individual and team. So what you create is different, but you don't lose your individual style either.
Would you call Beach Lion a departure from Anything But Broke/Flojangles?
ABB: No. I dropped two singles on well-known electronic dance music labels including my first international record label debut with my track Smoke Bubbles releasing on the London, United Kingdom based record label Dub All Or Nothing and Ain't Make me on Las Vegas record label FVYDID. It doesn't matter to me if I'm doing Beach Lion, Anything But Broke or Ultra Music Festival work. Hats are hats in the industry and when you're good at what you do you get to wear many.
Flo: By no means. I just released an EP "Turn It Up" at the end of 2018 and a new single releases every month for the remainder of the year under 'FloJangles" (starting on this tour). When I was offered the KRS-One tour, I almost just did it as "FloJangles". But, I believe in "Beach Lion" so much, I decided to see if ABB wanted in too. Beach Lion is kind of like Captain Planet. We both do our own work out in the world but sometimes we we just put our fist in the air and join powers, then BAM! Beach Lion rides out!
Moving on to your latest big gig - what can fans expect from your new gig with KRS One?
ABB: Fans can expect a new experience from us as music artists. We try to spice things up for our live shows by getting the crowd involved. They can expect to find something for everyone as our music is diverse but they can also expect a classic hip hop show. We want to stay true to the roots of the DJ and the MC. It's not just important to us. It's essential to the culture.
Flo: New music, high energy, and in your face conscience lyricism. Plus, I want it to look like an alien abduction with lights, lasers, and crazy projections. It will be a show of shows! We mesh Old School and New School to higher level. Music must evolve but it doesn't have to lose its roots in the process. We'll dazzle the crowds, make some new fans and some new haters, and show real Hip-Hop will never die!
How did that come about?
ABB: KRS One has been linked with us for a while through Hakim Green from Channel Live who we met while producing a festival in Atlanta, Georgia for Cappadonna's (Wu-Tang Clan) ex-wife. Beach Lion performed on the festival with Hakim and I filled in as his DJ as well as for Dylan Dili, Scholito Envoy and Dame Grease. After the festival was over we maintained a relationship with Hakim and the rest was just timing. We have been planning this for a while.
Flo: Well, through the 6 degrees of separation we are linked to KRS-One. This particular tour was offered to me through Strange Media. I've been working shows with them for years now. It was because of Strange Media that we met Lazy Bone from Bone Thugs n Harmony and have a song with him. They called me and said that they have KRS-One coming up and I jumped at the chance to be involved! I've wanted to bring him forever and ABB and I were even talking last year about bringing him through. So all the stars alined and here we are.
What are you looking forward the most?
ABB: I think we are looking forward the most to playing in front of our home crowd again in Sarasota. I feel like we have been playing big shows everywhere but there during the past year. It will feel good to see friends and familiar hater's faces. Haha. I'm a firm believer of living well is the best revenge. Stoked to be going right back to Miami, FL and West Palm Beach as these cities show us a lot of love during our live sets.
Flo: Playing with a Legend! Plus, it's always awesome to play in front of sold out crowds. I'm really excited to play our local Sarasota show because I feel the Hip-Hop scene has fallen off a bit in Sarasota. A KRS-One show should remind all these new rappers what Hip-Hop really is and should be. I didn't put in 20 years of my life into this scene to see mumble rap and ridiculous lyrics take it over.
Any plans to hit the road?
ABB: As far as national or international touring goes we could do that any time we want but I've got severe injuries. I have to take care of before that can happen. Unfortunately Anything But Broke has become more than just a name for me. I've been working with a team of about 6 to 8 doctors to rehabilitate from a hit and run car accident I was a victim of last year. I think every artist has their own struggles that they either hide or wear like a badge of honor. I always want my story to inspire others no matter
Flo: Yes, I am planning a Florida Summer tour. I'm a single, full time Dad so it's hard to make it happen. I also believe that being a great father figure is key to proper development of our youth. Too many rappers and musicians just leave their children behind. I never had my real Dad around, so that won't be me. It's hard to do it but needs to be done. If everything goes as planned, there's definitely a "FloJangles" tour on the way.