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FEATURE: Funkmaster Flex, SHO ’Em What You Got

DJ Funkmaster Flex lives life in the fast lane. Since the mid-90’s, the Bronx, NY disc jock has been setting the tone for East Coast hip-hop, breaking records and dropping his patented “bombs” on songs by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z and 50 Cent, as well as newcomers like Kid Cudi and Drake. While his Hot 97 radio show still remains the most popular mixshow in the Big Apple, Flex loves cars just as much as hip-hop, and both have become profitable ventures for him.

Auto aficionados make the pilgrimage to his annual Funk Flex custom car show each year and the DJ has even gone on to trick out rides for racing luminaries like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick. Now, Ford Motors wants in on the action. The automaker brand recently tapped Flex to put his Midas touch on their new 2010 Taurus SHO. He wound up adding a two-tone metal grey and black paint job, 22-inch wheels and Pirelli tires, as well as a Billet grille, custom door handles and his signature FMF logo to Ford’s base model. caught up with Funk Master Flex at this year’s SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) customization convention in Las Vegas to talk shop. The Ford Taurus hasn’t really been know as a hip-hop approved car…

Funkmaster Flex: No! First of all they jammed themselves up two years ago, putting a Taurus logo on the [Mercedes Benz] 500. That was the first loss [Laughs]. Now they’re redeeming themselves with this [2010 Ford Taurus SHO]. If they had already caught an L, what was it about this particular car that made you want to put your seal of approval on it?

Flex: If I like a body style and the way something is looking, then I’ll make myself a part of it. I like the body style of the [SHO]. I like the way it looks and then I got the opportunity to showcase it at SEMA. You know, because this is the World Series [of customization conventions] and I’m not gonna come to the World Series not looking right. That’s very important to me. What did you do in terms of customizing the car?

Flex: You gotta get a good outside. Where you two tone is the hardest part. Where are you going to start and stop those lines? And that was key for me, to make sure I followed the bodylines… I made [the tail lights] all red, so you can only see the body of the car and then some red. We built [new door handles] to go over the factory ones, and we darkened out all the chrome. That gives it a darker look; it gives it a meaner look. Right. The car stands out, but it’s very understated. It’s not too loud.

Flex: It’s not loud. It punches you in the face. It gives you that look; that dark look, that sinister look. But not that dark cab look, or undercover police car look. It’s dark and it’s sleek and it’s mean. I wanted to come with something just a little different. How much damage is this going to be on the pockets?

Flex: Well, the SHO is expensive; it’s about $42,000 or $43,000. That’s a decent price in comparison to the other cars you hear rappers name-dropping.

Flex: Oh, definitely. If you want to put your stuff together, it’s [more expensive] if you’re going to put more work into the vehicle as well… But with the SHO, you could just buy it off the showroom floor, put the 22’s on and you’ll look good. You’ll look very good. How do you juggle the music and the cars? How do you manage blend those two worlds together so easily?

Flex: It’s like a hot record. You want to blast the hottest record and throw on the hottest record at the party, so it all has to coincide. You want to be in the hottest car and you want to make one of the hottest customizations and that’s what I dreamed of. So it all comes together. You don’t build [just] to build, you’re proud of what you build. With the new generation of artists like Kid Cudi and Drake, the look of a rapper is changing…

Flex: Yeah, [it’s changing] from where it used to be, but the music is still powerful. It’s still making people dance. It’s still making people excited. It’s still about being clever and lyrical. You don’t have to be clever and lyrical to have a hit record, but the longevity is still about being clever with good records. I think it’s still there. Yeah, musically perhaps but the way rappers of this generation dress and look is definitely changing.

Flex: But I think that comes from something else. What jeans are hot has changed. What shirt is hot has changed. What sneaker is hot has changed. I don’t know if the rapper is changing the style, I think that the kids in the street are dictating what you’re supposed to wear and then the rapper puts on the uniform. I’m not mad at that. Here’s the thing, though, with this “new-look” rapper, do you see hip-hop’s car culture taking a backseat? Some of them are on skateboards now. To see Jay-Z on the cover of Vol. 2 with the Bentley was a big image and we aren’t getting that as much anymore.

Flex: I see what you’re saying. I don’t think there is a car of the hood right now. There is no voice. You have your muscle cars; your Mustang, your Camaro, you got your Challenger. For the hip-hop look of the game, the Range is still good, the Benz, the 7. Quiet as kept, that S500 Audi is serious. The hood is feeling that. Those are the top machines. Lexus is finished out here, the four-door, the Coupe, all that is a wrap. What if you still got some years left on the lease?

Flex: [Laughs]. It’s not it. Of course they don’t make the Magnum no more. The Charger is great for baby mamas and bowling [Laughs]. It’s taken on a new life, it’s the official bowling car. It’s a renter all day; beat it in the ground. What other car trends are played out right now?

Flex: I’ma tell you what people need to stop doing, what we have to stop practicing is, if you do not have a dual exhaust don’t pull up on me. I don’t wanna race. No single exhaust or six cylinders. We gotta have some rules out here. Don’t rev your engine with a small motor. There are a lot of rules that should never be broke. Other than that I think the Taurus is a good four-door piece. —Rob Markman

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