Disclosure: Every story we publish is the product of an independent editorial process that no one, including our board of directors, can directly influence. However, we want to let you know Floco Torres is our Community Outreach Director, and we wanted to pursue this story because of his good work in Akron outside of The Devil Strip.
In 2017, Floco Torres made the move from Macon, GA, to Akron, and our city has benefitted from it ever since. From musician to producer to community outreach director for The Devil Strip (TDS), he pours his heart into every role he has.
In just four short years, Torres has made his mark on Akron, especially in the music scene. It wasn’t until Torres graduated high school, though, that he began taking his career as a musician seriously.
“I played a bunch of instruments when I was a kid and I hated it. I can’t remember whose idea it was, probably my parents just trying to keep me busy,” Torres says. “But I was into writing, and writing turned into music after a while because I was writing stuff for my friends who were rapping, and eventually people told me I should save some of it for myself.”
His “a-ha” moment as a creator came during his high school graduation party where he performed his music for a group of people for the first time. It was at that moment he knew he was meant to be on stage.
“It was dope. I got that rush of people reacting to what you’re saying, and your performance,” Torres says. “That reaction was something I had never gotten from anything else I had done.”
Since then, Torres has recorded and produced countless projects. He has found inspiration from the classics, such as Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls and Nas, as well as St. Vincent, and Cleveland’s own, Kid Cudi. Over time, Torres has found his own everchanging, alternative hip-hop sound.
Having spent the majority of his career as a solo artist, it wasn’t until he worked with Akron’s Holbrook Riles III (HR3) that he considered teaming up with someone. At first, the two would send each other beats and verses, as well as perform at each other’s shows. One thing eventually led to another, and in 2018, the duo officially formed under the name Free Black!
“When we decided we were going to become a group, I came up with the name Free Black! because we kept having conversations about the Black experience. Holbrook would tell me stories about people telling him what kind of Black he should be, and people were telling me the same stuff,” Torres says. “We decided to make it this thing that continues to grow into everyone being free to be whatever they want to be.”
Together they have released two albums, their self-titled “Free Black!” and “Freedom Summer!” Their third studio album is set to be released later this year.
“It’s been a cool experience having someone to bounce stuff off of, and having someone else to consider. It’s just been fun,” Torres says.
Aside from his work with Free Black!, Torres has other collaborations and solo work that he plans to release throughout the year. He aims to empower and motivate those who listen to his music, all while bringing awareness to real-life issues.
“With America, you don’t have to change up your lyrics to match the times. The same songs I put out 5-10 years ago are still relevant today,” Torres says.
When you listen to Torres’s work, it is evident that he has used his platform to educate and inspire. You can find his individual work as well as Free Black!’s work on all major streaming platforms, as well as the more artist friendly service, Bandcamp.
“Supporting our work on Bandcamp and buying merch makes all the difference,” Torres says. “I know it’s a hassle getting the digital download, but it’s the difference between an artist making 89 cents on the dollar compared to .003 cents on the dollar.”
In addition to his work as a musician, Torres works full time for The Devil Strip as the director of community outreach. He has been involved with the magazine since he first arrived here in Akron.
“The Devil Strip is one of the many organizations across the nation that is navigating away from what journalism has done wrong for a very long time financially to how it serves the people,” Torres says. “So that part has always been dope. We’ve just been trying to break down the barriers.”
He credits The Devil Strip for allowing him to see the city from a different perspective and having the opportunity to meet a variety of innovative people.
Torres’s role is heavily focused on audience engagement for TDS, which entails a lot of behind-the-scenes work.
“I lead our audience team in trying to get as many people in our audience funnel as possible. That hopefully leads to people becoming engaged readers/followers, members, and more involved Akronites,” Torres says.
Torres’s influence can be seen throughout the Northeast Ohio music scene, as well as in the magazine we all know and love. Whether he will plant permanent roots in Akron is still up in the air – but he will always have a home here, that’s for sure.
To keep up with Torres you can follow him on Instagram, @flocotorres, and Twitter, @FlocoTorres. You can also read and subscribe to his newsletter, www.nobodycaresnews.com. There you will find information about his upcoming shows in June and September, as well as his music releases scheduled throughout this year.
Laura Lakins is an educator and freelance writer from Akron, Ohio.
Cover photo: Prince Thee Artist
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