Words by Eddie STATS Houghton
Will probably be starting a lot of Throwback Thursday posts off with this phrase, but…remember this joint!? I do. I was in college when it dropped and my West African roommate copped the cassingle and kept it on brainwash rotation in our apartment, a 24-hour Pandora-style channel dedicated to three artists: Fela Kuti, Nigerian rapper Blackky and Cobra. One of my main memories of art school, in fact, is sitting at a figure-drawing easel clashing my classmates in a race to come up with more variations on the hook of “Flex”–Flex / Time to cash checks! (Time to eat Rice Chex, wear x-ray spex, etc.) My boy Patrick officially took the crown when he bust out in the middle of an art history lecture with: Fleeeex / Tyrannosaurus Rex!
ANYWAY, it was a milestone in less subjective ways as well, one of the first post-Shabba tracks to receive the full-on major label video treatment–and arguably the dancehall vi with the highest production values of all time:
Mad Cobra, “Flex”
The fact that a major was willing to sink a comparable amount of money into a sappy second single with absolutely no traction in the dancehall market speaks volumes about the 90s economy and a touching faith in the ability of reggae to crossover. Back then, they were giving out videos like they were mp3s or something.
Mad Cobra, “Legacy”
After Napster and 9/11, you had to get your shit remade by some white kids with stuffed animals for heads if you wanted a video for a dancehall artist other than Sean Paul.
TeddyBears f. Mad Cobra, “Cobrastyle”
But you can’t stop Jamaicans from trying:
Cobra, “Gangsta Flex”