Flex the Antihero talks mental health & substance abuse in new release, “Brighter”
Raw is how I would sum up Flex the Antihero’s new single, “Brighter.” With the recent passing of one of hip-hop’s biggest icons (Rest In Peace Mac Miller), “Brighter” underscores the importance of using powerful platforms like music to encourage open conversation about mental health and substance abuse — and how to support a way out of it.
Flex’s lyrics tug the heart and make your mind race. The story Flex shares through his lyrics, matched against the song’s melodic beat are equal parts beautiful and haunting. As you listen, you will find yourself relating to his words and (in my case at least) feel all the things he must have been feeling during the situations in his life that inspired this piece of work.
“I definitely can’t say this is any indication of what you will get on the project. I think I was attracted to how dusty and imperfect it was.”
Flex captures you with his first verse. Once you take it in, he has you – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually:
“Feeling stuck inside a rut, I question everything I see. Stumble as I get up tryna find something for my relief. Numbing everything inside, my nerves tortured – they shot. Once I had it all in place, now pain is all I got…
Dead inside, but alive. The feeling killing my soul, some demon found a good reason to make me into a home. So vacant and cold, this time I’m reaching for help. I’m guessing nobody sees it, or else they couldn’t tell. Livin hell on this earth, intoxicated for nights. I find it so hard for me even justifying a fight. Downers lifting me up, these uppers letting me down. Swallowing all my guilt and wash it down with some Crown.”
We had the opportunity to chat with Flex about this release and he gave us the backstory behind his powerful track.
You can find “Brighter” on various digital streaming platforms including Apple Music, Spotify, TIDAL and more.
Q&A: Flex the Antihero
HipHopCanada: What is “Brighter” about? What message are you hoping to deliver to listeners with this track?
Flex the Antihero: It was a selfish record basically, and I wasn’t even sure it would see the light of day. My album was already complete and that sucked the entire life right out of mentally, but I had the production thrown at me and just revisited it with no pressure.
I just felt don’t feel like this topic can ever be expressed enough in this genre especially with how many people seem to be going through their own inner struggles.
If you have an outlet, exhaust it completely. Open up. Talk.
HipHopCanada: What is the inspiration behind “Brighter”?
Flex: It was more therapeutic than anything. There was no intention on recording anything further after this project in this genre until the alternative / punk project I’m working on was complete. I just go off feeling now. I’ve tried to force it while I was quiet for over a year, and it never works. I just let things happen when they do now, and I get way more done in a shorter period of time. I’m not really a fan of squeaky clean songs…I like mistakes. Raw emotion can’t be replicated when beating multiple takes into the ground. It’s changed the way I record completely.
[“Brighter”] has substance, it’s something you may have possibly felt. If that sounds like something you would be into, go for it [listen].
HipHopCanada: Describe the sound of “Brighter” — the beat, melody, how the lyrics flow.
Flex: It’s pretty far removed from what I’ve been working on, and the sound of the new album. I definitely can’t say this is any indication of what you will get on the project. I think I was attracted to how dusty and imperfect it was. The simplicity just allowed me to roll off it easily and not be lost in a mix of too many things going on at once. I guess if anything it called for me to talk about something with substance because of how bare it was. You almost end up carrying the production instead of it carrying you.
HipHopCanada: What’s up next for you?
Flex: My next release will be an album entirely produced by the collective Fameless entitled “Pity Party.” They’ve previously done work with Bones, Danny Brown, and a ton of others. We’ve done the odd track prior, but we really wanted to sit down and craft an entire body of work that has an overall “feeling” front to back. Some song structures are loose, and go through complete changes midway and transition into the next. It’s definitely an experience. I’m super proud of how it turned out. We also had it mixed by a rock engineer to give it more of a gritty sound that I think was needed for this.
HipHopCanada: Anyone you want to call out who helped bring this track to life?
Flex: Shout out to Arch Valenz who was the main producer and runs The Screwface Exchange.
I randomly met him at a Vice party a few years ago, and has been a solid dude since. Also to Phaze who added the extra piano, choir, strings etc. When I perform live, I tend to you use a live band and he basically took over the show as far as the instrumentation went. He can play it all, and is just one of the best souls you can imagine. Pure talent.
I had a friend, Nathan James, master the record who is a part of a band called Hollow Graves. They have a project coming this year and it is sounding incredible. He has also done production for my guys in Lavish Scum (don’t sleep on them). Again, a homie and a beast at everything music.
Written by Maricel Joy Dicion for HipHopCanada