Rappers Co City and P.A. Flex tag team as Bridlington Brothers

The duo recently released a pair of tracks in anticipation of a full-length coming later this year

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
P.A. Flex (left) and Co City

Recalling the years they spent growing up together on Bridlington Lane on the Northeast Side of Columbus, brothers Co City and P.A. Flex described endless summer days spent playing basketball and back-lot baseball, where a hit counted as a home run only when a batter successfully knocked the tennis ball over the neighboring apartment building with a Wiffle bat.

“We lost a lot of tennis balls that way,” Co City said, and laughed. “You had to have a few tennis balls with you to keep the game going.”

Beyond the exhilaration of play, these contests allowed the two naturally competitive brothers to repeatedly square off against one another, since the two were usually tasked with captaining opposing teams. As a result, Co City grew up measuring himself against his big brother, particularly as the younger started to get heavier into wrestling and baseball in high school.

“I was always the smaller guy, so I felt like if I could beat my brother at something, then I could beat anybody in my weight class, because he was bigger, stronger,” said Co City, who joined P.A. Flex for a mid-August interview. “I look at it as a sparring partner. Your sparring partner is going to help you, they’re going to assist you.”

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A similar principle has driven the brothers' parallel paths in music, particularly in the years since the two teamed with Rashad and Blaksmif in pioneering Columbus hip-hop group the 3rd Power. But while some of the pair’s early rivalry might have been, at times, less than friendly — “Growing up, we didn’t always get along,” Flex said — the relationship has softened and relaxed in more recent years as the two have become fathers, career men and partners in the nascent record label North City Music, which has released a string of essential local rap releases over the last year from artists such as L.O.O.T. and Kaz Oliver.

“We’re way more on the same wavelength now than when we were students,” Co City said.

This time-honed camaraderie is on full display on a pair of tracks the two recently recorded and released under the name Bridlington Brothers, which serve as a warning shot for a full-length record, Breath of Fire, which the two expect to release before year’s end. On the songs, “Book of Matthews” and the professional wrestling themed “Road Warriors,” the two operate as a lyrical tag team, trading punchlines, boasts and raw-nerve admissions, capturing the heartbreaking, wild, unpredictable, uproarious swirl that is modern existence. 

“Life, death, pain, suffering,” Flex recites at the onset of “Road Warriors” before flashing back to his bumpier early years when he was introduced to music at age 8. Co City follows with a verse that serves as a playful counterpoint, the lightness of his boasts playing counter to the complexity of his rhyme patterns, a flourish of syllables falling in perfectly syncopated time.

“That’s just how it is. Music ain’t nothing to me but life put over a metronome and some drums,” Flex said of the pair’s ability to incorporate the highs and lows, the spirited and the sorrowful in a single three-minute track. “That’s how I write my songs: I’m just out here in the world, taking it in, and then putting it in the music. I want it to seem like that. I want it to seem natural.”

The brotherly collaboration arrives following 2021 solo releases from each, with P.A. Flex dropping Sleeping Giant in January and Co City following with Coming to Grips in April, fueled by some of the same competitiveness that drove the two when they used to square off on that childhood baseball diamond. 

“I just try to win at everything,” Flex said. “Whoever I’m working with, I want them to be impressed. And this might sound weird, but I’m not always thinking about the listener, but I’m always thinking about the artist I’m working with, whether it’s the producer or my brother. I always want them to be impressed, and I think it makes them go harder.”

“There’s a lot of music history when we get together on these beats,” Co City said. “P.A. pushes me. … He is necessary for my growth and development not just as a musician, but as a human being. For being a better father, a better man.”

Watch the video for the DJ Prime-produced "Road Warriors" below.