The ebb and flow of long Maine winters saturate the multimedia hip hop experience known as Flower Shop.
“I’m 19,” says Dylan Rhode, one of the three frontmen of Flower Shop, a music and arts collective based in Portland, Maine. Dylan drifted around New England, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey through his upbringing, finally settling down in the Greater Portland area he now calls home. “It all kind of happened organically,” says Rhode, who goes by the moniker Monk, of the advent of Flower Shop. “We didn’t have anything else to do except get in trouble and do stupid shit, so turning this common interest into a business seemed like the most productive use of our passion.” In nine months, that passion has flourished into a hip-hop collective, studded with rappers, vocal artists, producers, videographers, beat-smiths, and musical magicians—most of them under 21—who are pushing out unique content by the day. A quick visit to their Soundcloud gives a sense of their musical range.
Passion doesn’t always express itself in a pleasant way. “It’s different up here,” Monk explains. “It’s cold, everyone has seasonal depression, and the summer is fleeting. The summer is almost like a feeling as opposed to a time. It’s a different culture—everyone is collectively sad. We’re trying to bring the essence of that culture to our music.” Since August of last year, Monk and the other two frontmen, Trevor Tucker (THT) and Mhondoro Richards (Mhon Griot), have been pushing out masterful products of visionary talent steeped in sadness. However, this tripod of hip-hop wunderkinds couldn’t stand without a thriving community of audiovisual colleagues to lift them out of the perpetual sludge. The most powerful manifestation of that is their first music video for their track, FACES, which features the work of many talented collaborators.
The concept for the music video was dreamt of and engineered by Flower Shop visual artists, Dillan Hodak and Charlie ‘Buckets’ Mayforth. The Champlain College senior and SCAD graduate, respectively, pursued futures in visual media and connected with the collective through Flower Shop’s multi-talented booking manager and graphic designer, Tim Dubois. “They really liked the song and we wanted to do a project together,” says Monk. “They have all the equipment and happen to be incredibly nice at what they do.”
The Flower Shop crew whipped up an audiovisual gem in a single day. “One of our sets was in Tim’s little Burlington apartment. We had so many kids jumping up and down in the room with all this heavy equipment, the downstairs neighbors came up and said their ceiling was flexing in. They said, ‘The song’s really cool, but we’re afraid you’re going to collapse our ceiling!'” says Monk. While they claim the video was “thrown together,” the polished outcome can only be credited to expert work. Note the spray-paint jumpsuits that make appearances throughout the video, created late night on a whim by Mayforth. Talk about whacking it out of the park on your first try.
The Flower Shop members are not without pleasure nor plight. “Living in Maine has shaped my art because people think that a rapper has to come from a hard place and a crooked, dangerous city,” THT says, “and when people hear about rappers from Maine, they think the worst. They call us soft, but it doesn’t mean a thing—we all have been through a lot. But ah well, that’s just another person we have to prove wrong.”