With passion, hard hitting lyrics, and a unique vocal style and presence to match, this versatile 20-year-old phenomenon is destined for success and stardom. Coming from the Buffalo, NY bred duo named Flagrant, Flame, aka Daniel Rouse, is now at the forefront of this movement as a solo MC.
"It’s coming back to the street. It’s coming back to Official Street Hip-Hop music." As the youngster of the group, Flame is now poised to carry Flagrant and the Buffalo/Upstate NY music movement on his back. Growing up in a single parent household, "Young" Daniel shuffled back and forth between Buffalo and Philadelphia.
It was in Philly where he began rapping as a youth; however it wasn’t until his family settled in Buffalo, NY when Flame began to hone his skills. By the time he was in junior high school, he had established a reputation as a skilled MC. "Writing has always come easy to me, I just wanted to keep establishing myself…I’m not just a rapper, I got songs, I can do the punch line thing, I can get on a serious track as well as freestyle…at an early age it was important for me to be well rounded."
It was his drive and skills that earned him schoolyard and street credibility; it was his lyrics and battling prowess that garnered him his nickname "Flame." "I was just known for having that fire, being a spitter…when I was young I’d listen to NWA, PE, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Mobb Deep, LOX…I just took the best elements of all that music and mesh that into my thing…our thing, Gangsta Religion"
Flame’s "spit game" got him recognized by his mentor and partner in the Flagrant movement, Sonny Vega$. "I met Vega$ through his cousin…I was a shorty that looked up to this cat…but he took me in and helped me get my song game tight." It was this bond that formed the group Flagrant.
"Flagrant was originally a trio…it was me, P Child and Sonny Vega$…" Each individual brought their respected style to the table, which in turn, made Flagrant a dangerous and well-rounded group. They quickly made a name for themselves releasing group and collaborative projects throughout western NY. It was 2004’s "Street Runners" and "Veteran’s Day’s" mixtapes that solidified Flame as a solo & integral artist in the Buffalo/Western NY hip-hop movement.
Flame/Flagrant’s music began to create a strong buzz on the streets, internet and other mixtapes and CD’s across the country. The sheer potency of these projects garnered Flame/Flagrant face-to-face meetings with Andy Hilfiger (Tommy’s brother) CEO of AH Entertainment, Michael "Blue" Williams, CEO of Family Tree Entertainment and Outkast’s manager and former VP A&R Def Jam, Tina Davis (Chris Brown’s manager).
However, for one reason or another, certain hurdles or obstacles were not cleared. "Everything happens for a reason…" Flame says with a chuckle. "We went to these meetings, ripped it down, earned, and in some cases took these people respect…it just wasn’t our time."
In the beginning of 2005, the dynamics of Flagrant began to change; they went from being a trio to a duo consisting of just Flame and Sonny Vega$, but Flame found himself recording a lot more solo material. "As far as the group goes, it wasn’t any beef or anything but we recorded so much music together… the Flagrant movement was going to get recognize regardless, but as people, we all start doing our own thing…not just rap, but life stuff…"
Their recognition finally came when Flame’s material made it’s way to the desk of the music supervisor of Section 8 Productions; George Clooney and Steven Soderberg’s joint venture company. This resulted in getting two of his songs on their HBO Original Series "Unscripted" in April 2005.
Soon, others began to take notice of Flagrant and Flame’s work ethic. They recorded songs with noted producers Jim Jonsin/Unusual Suspects (Jamie Foxx’s "Unpredictable", Twista, Trick Daddy, Rick Ross, Pink, etc), Miami’s DJ Papa Smirf and other up and coming producers. Some of this material appeared on Flame/Flagrant’s national breakthrough Traffikin’.
Soon after release, articles about Flame began to pop up; a mention in The Source Magazine’s Unsigned Hype column; an interview in Fader Magazine, a buzz worthy mention in Hits Magazine, and a host of interviews on various websites including HipHop-Magazine.com and Hiphopgame.com. With his name making a buzzing in the NYC, Flame was invited to participate in the infamous MC battling format, Fight Klub. Flame felt he finally came full circle. "I just wanted to do the Fight Klub to get it outta my system. Everyone kept telling me to do it…this was the measuring stick…and I had to go in there and bite some heads off," he says with a chuckle. "I had to do it to see if I was ready for the prime time. After I did my thing, they asked me to come back…but I don’t want to be known as a battle rapper."
Finishing out 2005 strong, Flame had interviews and placement in BRE and YRB Magazine’s. Through an exclusive marketing agreement with select Dr. Jay’s stores and Santana’s Town in NYC, Music Depot in Houston, outlets in Buffalo, the internet and other various mom & pop stores "Traffikin’" moved over 20k. "When we put this one together we didn’t want to do the typical mixtape thing…that market is over-saturated, we moved and worked the Traffikin’ project like the album and that how its has been accepted."
In the start of 2006, Flame recorded tracks with the Ether Man himself, producer Ron Brown (Nas, Ludacris and 50 Cent) and producer Icey Blue resulting in the underground street anthems "Putcha Hands Up" featuring Slim Thug and Stat Quo and "Fallback (The Uh-Oh Boyz)." In March 2006 he was featured in URB Magazine’s B-Side Section; "While his hard edge style is perfectly suited for the streets, the conscious rap that the MC grew up on strongly permeates in his work."
"Man I just trying to make good music that will stand the test of time and last…I’m only 20. A lotta my people didn’t make it to 18. I gotta make the right moves for me, my fam, in memory of them and put my town on the map." In 2006, he is poised and patient to do just that.