Flawless Real Talk is here to cement his name in the music industry, creating meaningful records that speak volumes to the current happenings of the world. Rapping under the moniker Flawless Real Talk is self-explanatory, and real name Alberto Martinez is a student of the game. When it comes to his rapping ability, he embodies the definition of hip-hop: telling his story and inspiring the masses with his words.
You may have seen him on the Netflix’s talent competition show Rhythm + Flow, but he’s actually so much more. Boasting 768K followers on Instagram alone, the independent rapper and entrepreneur has always carried that drive and ambition to be someone big one day — and rapping would be his ticket there. At age 19, Flawless moved to Atlanta from his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, with no game plan set.
Fast forward to 2020, he unleashes his newest single titled “What A Time,” which signifies and speaks on social injustice with absolutely no sugarcoating. Flawless explains,” I speak on my perspective and what I feel in my emotions. I thought it was important to put it out so my fans know where I stand with social injustice. The world’s in a dark place right now, putting out anything other than ‘What a Time’ would be an injustice to the people who really needed to hear that.”
Flawless also announced his partnership with LIVIT, a global live streaming app, which will kick off the next generation of streaming for musicians all over the world. Unlike other virtual shows, LIVIT focuses on fan and artist interaction, while giving back to charitable causes. Flaunt caught up with Flawless Real Talk via Zoom, who was located back in his hometown of providence. Read below as we discuss his upbringing in Providence, how he fell in love with hip-hop, the underdog mentality, partnering with LIVIT and giving back, benefits of Rhythm + Flow, “What A Time,” and more!
How are you holding up?
It’s okay. It’s not too bad because it’s a small state. We’re not too bad in the COVID department, but we’re still there. Right next to New York, so we’re still feeling it.
What was it like growing up in Rhode Island?
Growing up in Rhode Island was tough. Being the smallest state in the country, there’s really little to no opportunity. For me, it was really that underdog mentality growing up. A lot of people from here want to make it out more than somebody from a major city ,or from a place that’s more prominent with music. We grow up with that hunger and that drive. I can credit being from Rhode Island to why I work so hard and why I’m so driven. We already feel like our backs are against the wall from the beginning because we’re such a small place. I really cherish Rhode Island and I cherish all the creators that fight within that city to get out, because we’re really built with that underdog mentality.
Talk about your journey in music, how did you get your start?
My journey with hip-hop started at an early age. I had a stepfather who was a tour bus driver. When I was really young, he’d take me on tour with him in the summertime and allow me to see the inside of the industry: traveling and touring. He’s touring with some of the biggest artists. I got to meet Beyonce and Nelly when he was really big. Really the top artists. It really made me fall in love with not just the music, but being able to travel and see the world. Waking up in a different location every single day, I knew it was something I definitely wanted to do. As I grew up into my teen years, my trials and tribulations led me to putting my emotions on paper and turning to hip-hop as a therapy. I started making music and I haven’t let go of it since.
At what point did you realize you could do music for a living?
When I started releasing music within my city and doing weekly shows. The more support I was gaining, I saw myself becoming bigger and bigger. Knowing that if I could get 100 people to show up, man I wonder if I can get 200 people to show up. Or I wonder if I could get 300 people to show up. I knew this is something I really wanted to take seriously. That’s what transitioned me into going to Atlanta, down South in about 2011. I went down there to pursue my music career because there was more opportunity. It was a mecca for music at that time, trap was really big. I knew that my style was a little bit different and I could possibly stand out. It was a big risk to go down to a market where my music would be completely different, but it ended up becoming a rewarding experience. I’ll never forget it.
Was there a culture shock going to Atlanta?
Trap was really big down there, it was very different. It wasn’t as much of a culture shock and difference as far as how it was in Rhode Island with the people. Everybody was really friendly as they are in my hometown. It was about how much opportunity was there, opposed to where I’m from. How many situations I could put myself into to actually progress and become successful. I think I did that. The first time I got down there, I entered a Wendy’s competition. It was to open up for Ludacris and Rick Ross at Philips Arena, I won the competition. Only being in Atlanta for 2 months, I was leaving Rhode Island, doing shows for 200 to 300 people to performing for 20,000 people in an arena two months later. That’s why those shows back home were really important, it molded me and prepared me for that moment. Had I not done those weekly shows back home and trained myself before, I wouldn’t have been ready for that. So I’m grateful.
Were you nervous? What was that like?
Oh, absolutely. [laughs] Your first arena show, you try not to mess up. I did everything I could to be prepared and it definitely went really well. After that, I was able to get a lot of openings for major artists within the city. I was able to start touring independently and really make a name for myself nationwide, which is really cool.
Obviously you can’t tour now because of COVID-19. What positives have come out of quarantine for you?
My new partnership with LIVIT where i’ll be able to connect directly with all my fans through live streaming and virtual concert performances. Being able to give back, that’s the most important thing we’re focused on right now. Utilizing our space in our situation, and trying to see how impactful we can really be considering the circumstances.
Congrats on the global partnership with LIVIT, talk about sharing a common goal of giving back.
We want to give back to all types of causes. Right now in the holiday season, it’s about to be Thanksgiving. There’s a lot of families that are going to need food. There’s a food shortage right now in New York. There’s a food shortage going on around the country right now due to our circumstances. Us being able to utilize our platform and connect with the fans, have fun, and give back to a different cause each month, whatever cause needs it the most in that month. We’ll figure that out due to circumstances, depending on how things happen in the future. Something may happen and we may need to turn our attention to a tragedy or something that a city needs, we can turn our energy to that charitable cause. That’s the best thing about this, we can literally shift gears at any moment and give to whoever needs it the most.
What does your partnership entail?
We’re going to be streaming 3 times a week. We’re going to be doing a little bit of everything. Once a week, we’re going to be doing talent shows where the fans can come in and showcase their talent to my fans. Be able to grow themselves, maybe become streamers themselves. We’re going to give a unique opportunity every week for fans to come in and showcase their own talents. We’ll be there watching, rooting them on, giving them positive vibes. We’re going to be doing in-studio sessions. Allow the fans to come in and have input on song titles, have input on song concepts. Really take part in the creative process inside the studio. Behind-the-scenes of photoshoots, video shoots, these are the things they’re going to be able to get on LIVIT that they’re not able to get on any other platform.
How has Rhythm + Flow impacted your career?
Rhythm & Flow has impacted my career a great deal. It gave me international exposure, it allowed me to grow my fanbase without necessarily having to take a major deal. Being independent as long as I have, it’s important for us to grow organically. Netflix and Rhythm + Flow really allowed all that organic growth for us to have a real fanbase that not only follows our music now, but knows our story. That was important.
Do you still feel like the underdog?
Absolutely. I don’t want to say that I like the fact that I was the runner-up on the show, but it definitely has inspired me to work even harder everyday. If I would’ve won, maybe it would’ve given me some more validation, but I still feel like I have so much to prove even with getting so far on the show.
You toured with Ludacris, Rick Ross, Tech Nine. Any wild tour stories?
I can’t really say. [laughs] Actually I do have a wild tour story, because it’s a testament to us and what we’ve done. Back in 2013, we booked an entire tour. A 26-city tour, we flew to LA on our own dime and the tour never really existed. Somebody booked me as a headliner, then booked a bunch of openers, and tossed the openers for the tour, then never put the tour on. We’re stranded in LA with five or six openers who had paid to get on the tour with me. It goes to show you what kind of business we’re in, you have to be careful being independent. You really have to learn the business if you’re going to do this on your own. That’s the craziest tour experience for me, a tour that never happened.
In your song “What a Time,” you say “that’s word to my baby son, he won’t have to take a knee.
We gon’ be there standing up.” Can you expand on that?
It’s a generational thing with us still dealing with this. We had people fighting in the 60’s for the same things we’re fighting in 2020. If we’re not careful, my son, who’s just a one year old, could be fighting the same fight that we’re fighting today. It’s a real testament in that line of saying that he’s not going to be taking a knee, we’re going to be standing up because we need to find a solution now. We need to fight now with this generation. If we’re not careful, we’re going to be dealing with it much worse by the time my son’s an adult. He’s going to be having the same discussions, that’s what we’re trying to avoid.
You say every no means the next opportunity. What’s been a “no” you’ve heard in your life that set you in the right direction?
It never was one no. Opportunities such as meetings with a label that didn’t go through, never really amounted to anything. Not winning Rhythm + Flow was actually a blessing because it still gave me that underdog mentality and allowed me to work even harder. Sometimes, winning isn’t the best thing for you. God knows what He’s doing. He knows the path he’s leading me on, I got to trust in Him and continue to work hard. The no’s were really situations that didn’t work out with labels, being really upset about the world tour being canceled and COVID coming. Now I got an opportunity with LIVIT to really connect and give back, where I wouldn’t have necessarily been doing that on a world tour. The journey’s already cemented, I got to continue to work hard and give thanks.