The first release from the newly created North City Music Group features contributions from Flex, Co City, L.O.O.T. and Kaz Oliver

P.A. Flex has always been a basketball diehard, so, in an effort to develop a jump shot that wouldn’t abandon him along with the more physical aspects of the game as he aged, he started doing daily drills in which he would shoot 100 jumpers.

“I’m just basically trying to attack my muscle memory so that as I get older and I’m not super athletic, I can still play basketball,” said the musician, who started photographing his trips to various courts around the city, which he’s planning to compile into a coffee table book and an accompanying soundtrack. “It’ll be picture-oriented, but there are also life lessons in there about habit building, about doing things that exercise any muscles — physical muscles, mental muscles — and as you’re getting older just staying fine-tuned.”

Flex has developed a similar muscle memory as a rapper musician, which has come in handy in launching his most recent venture: the record label North City Music Group. The label recently released its first album, De’Cure, a compilation effort that features contributions from the four solo artists currently making up its roster: Flex, L.O.O.T., Kaz Oliver and Co City, Flex’s brother and his longtime musical conspirator in the landmark local rap group the 3rd Power, which also features Rashad and Blaksmif.

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“I’ve always had an abundance of songs and ideas, so I thought the best way to get all of my ideas out was to have our own home base to do it,” said label CEO Flex, who first dreamed up the idea for North City around 2005, finally returning to the concept after 3rd Power released Attack of the Drum in 2018. “As you get older and have kids, you get to a point where you want to have something to give them, and we’re in a space now where, if you’re a creator, you should aim to own something that you’re doing. … So the art hasn’t changed. I still want to be the guy who puts out tons and tons of great songs. But now it’s more about ownership and setting up companies that we can affect the world with, and also have equity in that art.”

Flex and Co City said De’Cure is meant as something of a sampler platter, with each artist having an opportunity to showcase their skill sets. The subject matter is equally diverse, bounding between party anthems and songs like “Baseline,” where Co City raps about COVID and Black Lives Matters atop a muscular beat that takes definite inspiration from the song’s title.

“Music is organic for me. For me it is a way of life, and I’m always writing about what’s going on around me. It’s therapeutic for me, because the world we’re living in is very crazy. It’s very trying,” said Co City, who described his A&R role with the label as one focused on relationship building. “Obviously I’m aware of everything that’s going on, and I’m a strong advocate for social justice and Black Lives Matter. … I’ve tried to keep those things at the forefront of my mind and talk about them, too. It’s important for me to continue to be a leader and to speak on things for people who don’t have a voice.”

At the same time, Co City wanted the label’s first release to reflect all sides of not only its artistic roster, but of life in general. 

“There are some serious records on there, but there are some fun ones, too,” he said. “There are still good things going on. There are still good people in the world. And I would like to continue to build with the good people.”

Consider North City Music Group the next phase in that construction project.