It’s been years since we heard Steph Floss’ signature rasp grace a mixtape. Floss is from a different era, where the DJ was the star of the project, and the artist was the backdrop. He was a master of the Funkmaster Flex/ DJ Kay Slay school of mixtape hosting, where the DJ’s drops make it seem like you’re about to hear the second coming of Hov on the track, even when it was just another trap boy from down the street. When you heard Floss, you automatically assumed that the artist being featured was a big deal.
Fast forward to 2017, and to be honest, Floss doesn’t have time to mess around laying drops on any no-name projects. He’s the resident OG DJ at Cleveland’s Z107.9, the only hip hop station in the city, and he’s got a full plate there. He’s the official house DJ at Quicken Loans arena for the Cleveland Cavaliers, a gig that keeps him busy far beyond the basketball season. There’s the club dates, and that’s not just here in the Land. He’s got residency status in LA and Toronto, and travels all over the country for festivals, awards shows, private parties- you name it. He pimps tequila and Kia’s. He’s the face of the city. So forgive him if he doesn’t have time to do drops on your local rappers “Trappin’ In the Trap- Trappin’ Paradise Volume Trap” mixtape. He’s out here making moves.
But one thing Steph has always been committed to is helping find local talent opportunities. As a member of the League Crew, a DJ Coalition from Cleveland, he received a helping hand from his OG, Mick Boogie, who let everyone who would listen know that Steph was the next in line and was ready to run the city. When Mick left 107.9 and the Cavs, Steph stepped in, and they never missed a beat. You get a sense that Steph wants to pay it forward, returning the love that he got years ago when opportunity knocked.
(Shugabooga, Ray Jr and Steph Floss) credit: http://www.bubblehedz.com
It shows with the DJ’s. We’ve seen him and his partner in crime DJ Meel become the ultimate one-two punch for tastemaker events all over the country. It shows with artists, as local music makes up a very healthy portion of his “9:00 Mixtape” every night on the big station. It shows with his social work. His “Run With The Winners” jogging events have become a staple in the city, encouraging people to take the same kind of fitness that’s led to his own healthy lifestyle. Bottom line, Steph uses his success as a platform for others whenever he can.
The “clapbacks” are inevitable. He simply can’t work with everyone, and that of course ruffles feathers.
“Floss is ‘Hollywood'”.
“Floss ain’t nobody- he don’t wanna play nobody’s music”.
Little do they know how hard he works to help out the very same people that hate on him!
He is a member of the Co-sign, a group of industry elite in Cleveland that puts out mixtapes to showcase new artists. Every time the put out a release there is a firestorm of social media grumblings and retorts from artists scorned. You can’t please everyone. Many become bitter and refuse to offer their hand; Floss just hits the airwaves and tells his listeners to “be nice” when they see the Co-Sign out. He’s not gonna help those that disrespect. But those who have heat and follow the protocol might get a life-changing nod.
All of these factors mean that whether it’s getting a spin during the mix or during the Cavs warm up, or whether it’s just getting a tweet sent out about your project, if Steph is messing with it- it’s a hit. So when word came out that he was not only endorsing, but HOSTING a mixtape for Cleveland newcomer Big Bank Holly, it had to be a big deal.
“The Wolf of St. Clair” is a re-introduction of Steph to the mixtape game, and he picked an artist who’s got the type of charisma and personality stars are made of.
Cleveland artists tend to have cocky, big personalities. Big Bank reminds me so much of early Chip The Ripper aka King Chip, that it’s hard for me to not see Chips face when I listen to the project. It’s not his voice per se- it’s truly the attitude, the cockiness. The one liners are playful, but the wordplay is serious. He has a subtle brilliance to his lines that makes you forget just how good the bars you’re hearing are!
The first single “New Money” has been popping up on Steph’s mixes frequently, and Big Bank introduces the world to one of Cleveland’s most notorious neighborhoods by starting the track with a Boosie inspired line: “I’m from S-T-C-L-A-I-R”. My prediction is that this one bar will become part of that Cleveland hip hop history. You’ll hear it sampled, mixed scratched- whatever. But it’s not going away soon.
When you have another record’s hook stating “I play with dough like I work at the Rascal House” it’s obvious you are making true Cleveland music, and that’s the vibe throughout the project. Whether it’s the big sound of “Selfish” featuring Lil Cray and Freshie, or the understated piano riff driven “No Hook” featuring Boss Bird Wooda and Sir Chubby, one thing that doesn’t change throughout is the fact that Holly’s swag and delivery are undeniably Cleveland.
Cleveland’s hip hop market is one of the fastest growing in the country. To compete, you have to be hungry. Like a Wolf. And a Co-Sign doesn’t hurt either. Between Steph’s muscle and Big Bank Holly’s talent- “The Wolf of St. Clair” looks to be the stuff of legend. Just like Lebron returning to the Cavs to win a championship- Steph came back to the mixtape game for one reason: to win. And if he’s running with Big Bank Holly, we all know what that means: RWTW.
You can Download “The Wolf of St. Clair” By Big Bank Holly and Hosted by Steph Floss here: