Bands to Watch 2012: Freaky Franz

  • Photos by Jodi Miller
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From the January 26, 2012 edition

Franz Lyons raps with such gargantuan force that the prospect of his voice projecting worldwide seems reasonable, mic or no mic. But given Lyons’ irrepressible charisma, his ear for dance floor-detonating hooks and the prominent connections he’s forging, his belligerent club rap seems destined for plenty of amplification.

“The Freaky Tales,” Lyons’ debut mixtape as Freaky Franz, certainly reverberated upon its release last October, even gleaning a mention on esteemed hip-hop label Fool’s Gold Records’ blog thanks to Sammy Bananas, the Brooklyn DJ/producer Lyons calls “my Uncle Sammy.”

Reception was positive, but Lyons, who also skateboards professionally and plays bass for Baltimore hardcore band Turnstile, set his sights higher for sophomore release “Tour de Franz.”

“I’m trying to figure out how to catch a few more eyes than last time,” Lyons said.

Those already paying attention include some of the hottest talents in rap. Lunice, a Montreal producer who works with Harlem hype magnet Azealia Banks and remixed Deerhunter with Diplo, produced Lyons’ new “Let It Show.” Lyons is also working with DJ Two Stacks, the Staten Island producer behind Kreayshawn’s underground hit “Gucci Gucci.”

Lyons still produces many of his own beats too, honing his skills under the tutelage of Fly.Union’s Iyeball.

There’s no official timetable for “Tour de Franz,” partially because Lyons is so busy. He’s traveling to Australia and New Zealand next month as a roadie for Baltimore hardcore icons Trapped Under Ice. His own band, Turnstile, contributed music to a Flatspot Records compilation coming this spring. He recently signed on to skate for Mishka, the Brooklyn clothing company that sponsored star-making mixtapes by Stalley and Das Racist.

Lyons rarely stays put for long, but his approach to rap remains firmly entrenched: He likes it rowdy, explicit and crushingly loud. Expect nothing less from “Tour de Franz.”

“It’s still the same,” Lyons said. “I just try to put something out that you don’t really need to know nothing about the song except the hook and how the beat goes because you want to dance to it, you know? Music that makes you think a little bit less.”