Attempting to change the world through song is audacious. It will always be a lofty goal; an ideal worthy of our respect and admiration. In an era filled with self absorbed pop stars, it's even more so. Flobots, the alternative hip hop group from Denver Colorado, carries on a tradition of challenging perceptions and inspiring activism for which hip hop was once known.
Much can be said about the commercialization of music in general and hip hop in particular. Overtly sexual, often sexist lyrics, and an incessant focus on materialism have driven many mature musical lovers away from the art form of rap. In the battle for political and social consciousness, Flobots are metaphorical boots on the ground winning over hearts and minds one fan at a time. From its initial self released debut, through its major label signing and its return to independent status, the group has managed to maintain its artistic integrity while coming of age against a backdrop of war and worldwide social unrest.
Flobots have always marched to the beat of their own drum. Originally founded in 2000 by Jonny 5, the group coalesced into its current dual MC, live band format in 2005 when childhood friends and MCs Jamie Laurie (Jonny 5) and Stephen Brackett (Brer Rabbit) reconnected for a side project. The quickly gained notoriety for their unusual instrumentation and focus on political and socially conscious lyrics. The group scored a major hometown hit with the 2007 release of Fight with Tools. The self produced album spawned their most well known single "Handlebars" and put Flobots on the radar of major music and entertainment outlets, resulting in a label deal with Universal, prominent festival bookings and appearances on late night television.
Universal re-released Fight with Tools. Two years later Flobots released Survival Story. Lacking the clear cut hit of Fight with Tools, the quintets sophomore effort with Universal proved to be it's last. Fortunately for fans of thought provoking music, the members of Flobots took time off to live life; gathering new experiences that would help shape the sound of their next artistic endeavor, The Circle In The Square. The Circle In The Square was recorded during both the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring and the album was heavily influenced by these events.
In the mean time and in between times the Flobots have taken time to live out their activism by participating in various projects. Partnering with the Denver Housing Authority and the Playing For Change Foundation and other community groups, Flobots.org, a nonprofit with the goal of reducing the high school drop out rate in Colorado and beyond, has been tasked with providing programming for the Denver area Youth Media Studio.
The Youth Media Studio will house an industry-standard recording studio, indoor and outdoor performance spaces, student board rooms, student work stations and administrative offices. It will serve as a centralized location for digital arts-based programming for youth, and will connect local youth to students around the world in a state-of-the-art global classroom.
The members have also been apart of various political activities including Rock The Vote, Vote For Change, voter registration rallies and generally encouraging the political engagement of young people. In an age of "reality celebrities" and the commercialization of music, Flobots delivers sustenance to a generation of those that want and need it.