“I am a Christian, husband, artist who seeks to enjoy God as I enjoy life and make Him known to people I encounter.”
With his new album God Knows, FLAME wants listeners to “find comfort in God’s eyes and presence being on us through the highs and the lows. That overwhelming sense of comfort that we draw from knowing that God is invested in our lives.”
God Knows is FLAME’s ninth album, his first being in 2004. When reflecting on his career, he has thought, “What’s one of the biggest lessons that I’ve gained from my experience in the music industry?” His answer is that God has been with him every step of the way. “The drive and motivation behind it was really that personal reflection.”
While creating for this album, he got to a point where he had eight songs and decided to get rid of all of them. “I wanted to take a different approach, so part of the process was taking the time to think about, ‘what’s a fresh angle on familiar things and what’s a new way to artistically express myself in some new ways?’” FLAME knew he had to push himself to keep things original fourteen years in, and discussed this with his wife, Crystal, and his main producer, Spec.
FLAME first met producer Spec at the Grammy’s in 2009. They were introduced by a mutual friend and “he gave me a CD with production on it. I didn’t listen to it until a couple weeks later and was like, ‘Yo, that dude was dope.’”
A while later, he saw Spec at a concert in California.
“He was there because he was managing V. Rose. She performed after my set and I was like ‘Yo, who was that girl who just sang? She was dope.’ He was like ‘That’s my artist.’”
After hearing V. Rose’s voice, FLAME knew he had to have her on a song. He featured her on “Surrender” and “Capture Me” on his 2010 album Captured. Later he made her the second artist on his label Clear Sight Music.
Spec has become FLAME’s go-to producer, saying “our styles really coincide. The way he hears music and thinks about creativity, it lends itself to my style.”
FLAME primarily recorded God Knows by himself in his home studio. “I like that isolation. I feel more comfortable being experimental and trying things that I might be embarrassed to try in front of other people.”
Everything in his studio is either red, white, or black in color. “It creates the environment for me to zone out. I’ll hit record, let the track play, and I just freestyle.” After he records his freestyles, he listens, “see what parts of it I felt like were almost inspired, so-to-speak, and I lock into those and build on them.”
The album was produced mostly by Spec, with additional contributions by Mashell Leroy, Weswriter, and Steve T, among others. “All of these guys bring something different, something unique. It was a joy working with them because we’ve all ran into each other in unique ways and the songs came later.”
FLAME’s wife Crystal has a PhD in psychology and he always go to her for ideas.
“She’s really a smart person. She doesn’t always consider herself an artistic person, but over the years she’s proven that to not be the case.”
She came up with the idea to photograph his reflection within the rearview mirror of a car. “We tried it on her cell phone and it came out so tight. Then we had the task of finding a photographer that could actually recreate what we created in our driveway.”
“Swimming with Sharks” is one of FLAME’s favorite songs on the album. “It just felt good to be able to say it and get it off my chest.” In the song, he talks about the perils and deceptions of people within the music industry.
“I feel like there’s politics [in] whichever sphere of life you find yourself. You’re gonna have to be smart about it.” The song is one to relieve his own stress and also warn up-and-coming artists to beware and be cautious, to make sure that what they are receiving and the people they are working with are fair.
With regards to the song’s music video, “the track was sounding ferocious. You’ve got the big instruments that remind you of Jaws in the water. My wife through hearing that track over and over said ‘Let’s bring that to life. Let’s get into some water.’”
The filming of the music video was FLAME’s first-time kayaking. The video was filmed in the Orlando, Florida area and they encountered some wildlife while shooting.
“There were actual alligators and sharks in the water for everybody that’s curious.”
The album continues with “Silver and Gold,” a song that addresses greed but also says that Jesus is far greater than the wealth in the world. “Unfortunately, people are willing to go to length and depths to secure the bag as they say that may conflict with a Christian worldview.” He wants to show listeners how they can “prize their relationship with Jesus in such a way that we consider how we engage money and how we engage one another in dealing with money.”
FLAME doesn’t want people to think that money or wealth is evil, but “it’s really to talk about the priority of God at the center and all other things orbiting around that.”
In “Update,” FLAME collaborated with God Over Money artist Bizzle for the first time. “The fans have been begging for a collaboration between us two since maybe 2010 where he came on the scene.” He said that sometimes when artists are really busy, they will send a mediocre verse, “but I feel like he actually went and got it in.” The track also features Sicily. “She’s been so supportive over the years, not just for myself but for the entire genre and I wanted to give her a look… Plus she can rap her head off.”
“Fed Up” features long-time collaborator and former Clear Sight Music artist V. Rose. “That’s one of those experiences that each person has had. There’s time when we’re let down by a friendship, let down by a group of friends and we’re confused, we’re caught off guard.” FLAME says that Christians often try to bypass that frustration and act like it didn’t happen.
“We feel like we have to quickly get to the solution. When you read the Psalms you don’t see that. You get to see the process of confusion, anger, frustration, disappointment. Then you see resolve. I wanted to mimic that.”
He wanted to create an anthem for frustrated Christians who are fed up with their relationships and says that ultimately they must know that God understands their emotions.
“Only You” was the second single from God Knows and is about the humility to be a sinner in the face of God and others. “It takes a certain humility to admit that you are a person that continues to offend God, but not let it steer you away from God.” FLAME warns against scrupulosity, saying that Christians cannot say that God no longer cares for them because of their sins.
“That’s actually pride to say ‘I’m so weak God. I’m so troubled. I don’t need you.’ That’s the wrong response. You should actually say, “I’m so weak. I’m so troubled. I need you more.’” In the song he says that only God can help us through this conflict so that we stay faithful despite our sins.
“We don’t need to wait around for someone to validate our coolness.”
In “No Cosign,” FLAME says that Christians don’t need to be popular or well-liked by the masses. “Right now, a lot of mainstream artists are coming out about their faith and being up-front about it, but I’m saying similar to what Paul said, we wanna preach the gospel in season and out of season.” He says that God can be our cosign who supports us.
The song features KB, a favorite of Christian hip-hop listeners who is known for working with FLAME previously on “All In” from FLAME’s 2012 album Royal Flush. “He’s a staple artist in this genre. He’s somebody that’s consistent, his stage presence is ridiculous. His albums are always impactful, and I love KB as a person and as an artist.”
In “Friday,” featuring J. Carter, FLAME wants people to see God in the midst of a bad day or week. “In the scriptures you see people who consider themselves happy or blessed or content in Christ in the midst of good and bad times.” He wants people to celebrate moments of rest, including the weekends, “in Christ as we do life.”
The album ends with “Invincible.” He says that in our darkest hour, God comes to be with us and support us. “Your Creator is here. He loves you. He wants you. Trust in Him and His strength.
“When you’re considering the big picture, the most comforting thing I believe in the human experience is knowing that God, the Creator is for His Creation and He is not a weak, frail God. He’s the almighty, all powerful, victorious God.”