In recent years legendary radio deejay Funkmaster Flex has been making headlines from time to time due to things said that stir up debate and controversy. A stark contrast from Funkmaster Flex’s heyday during the 90’s when it was about the music. Funkmaster Flex who has been with Hot 97 since 1992 at one point was considered being the most influential deejay in the hip hop industry.
Listeners would tune into his shows to see what new records he would premiere before anyone else. His persona and charisma was infectious. Prior to landing the gig with Hot 97, Flex in the mid 80’s whose birth name is Aston Taylor was part of a group Deuces Wild. The other prominent member was Derrick Keyes who would eventually become known as the artist Nine. They released a series of singles on the Turngold record label including “Hard Is Hard” and “He Writes His, I Write Mine”.
Deuces Wild – Hard Is Hard
Deuces Wild – He Writes His, I Write Mine
In 1991 Aston would establish the moniker Funkmaster Flex and Derrick coined himself Nine Double M. They would put out the ep “F.A.L.L.I.N. (And You Can not Get Up)”. Tracks to mention are the title track and “Bodies on the Nine”. The project was released through the label Warlock Records. In 1993 the duo would put out their last and most prominent track “Six Million Ways To Die” from the indie label Nervous Records.
Funkmaster Flex & Nine Double M – And You Can not Get Up
Funkmaster Flex & Nine Double M – Bodies on the Nine
Funkmaster Flex – Six Million Ways To Die feat. Nine
Two years later Flex would release two additional singles through Nervous Records. “Nuttin ‘ But Flavour” which featured Charlie Brown, ODB, and Biz Markie as well as “Safe Sex No Freaks” featuring Mad Lion and Rayvon. Later in 1995 Flex was able to land a major label deal with Loud Records where through the year 2000 would put out a mixtape series. Three of the albums would eventually be certified gold. Early on the tracks were primarily freestyles and snippets of established songs. Eventually the projects would consist primarily of original music.
Funkmaster Flex – Nuttin’ But Flavour feat. Charlie Brown, ODB & Biz Markie
Funkmaster Flex – Safe Sex No Freaks feat. Mad Lion & Rayvon
The first installment The Mix Tape, Vol.1 would include a number of freestyles by high profile artist including the Fugees and Busta Rhymes. It would also include the track “Everyday & Everynight” by Yvette Michele who Flex would be an executive producer on her album Dreams. She would also appear on the remix to “Loud Hangover” which also featured Akinyele and Sadat X. As well as “I’m Not Feeling You” from Flex’s 1997’s The Mix Tape, Vol. II. The installment would also include Buckshot’s “No Joke/Follow Me” and freestyle by Puff Daddy and Mase.
Busta Rhymes – Freestyle
Fugees – Freestyle
Yvette Michelle – Everyday & Everynight
Funkmaster Flex – Loud Hangover (remix) feat. Akineyle, Sadat X & Yvette Michelle
Yvette Michelle – I’m Not Feeling You
Buckshot – No Joke/Follow Me
Puff Daddy and Mase – Freestyle
In 1998 The MixTape, Vol. III would be released including “Put Your Hammer Down” from the Wu-Tang Clan and Ice Cube and Mack 10 freestyling over Wu-Tang’s “MGM”. Flex would take a break from the series and in 1999 put out through Def Jam an album called The Tunnel with DJ Big Kap. The project consisted of all original music and Flex would have a hand in producing several tracks including “Real G’s” with Snoop Dogg and “Dem Want War” with Raekwon. In 2000 Flex put out the final installment of the mixtape series The Mix Tape, Vol. IV which had the singles “Do You” featuring DMX and “Goodlife” by Evans which also spawned a remix including Ja Rule.
Wu-Tang Clan – Put Your Hammer Down
Funkmaster Flex – Freestlye feat. Ice Cube & Mack 10
Funkmaster Flex & Big Kap – Real G’s feat. Snoop Dogg
Funkmaster Flex & Big Kap – Dem Want War feat. Raekwon
DMX – Do You
Faith Evans –Goodlife (remix) feat. Ja Rule
Funkmaster Flex in the 90’s was larger than life. He had a large loyal audience that would record and listen to his nightly shows in hopes of catching the new exclusives. While at the same time putting out several mixtapes through a major label that would be certified gold. How he maintains his visibility know is a reflection of how the industry operates now. That is why so many hip hop followers reminisce about the 90’s when it was more so about the music.