Over the past five years, Fice Gallery, the downtown urban boutique that makes almost every other niche store feel like a Burlington Coat Factory, has set itself apart as an elite Salt Lake City tastemaker—exposing Utahns to a variety of high-end threads, art and music.
So, to say thank you to the owners (Laura Hadar and Corey Bullough) in the most natural “daps and hugs” way possible, Salt Lake emcee Concise Kilgore and two-time City Weekly DJ of the Year Flash & Flare dropped a free summertime mixtape titled Fice Lords.
As of late, the 801 area code has seen some interesting and noteworthy rap duos: DopeThought and Worth, Dine Krew and New Truth, just to name a few. But when a perpetually laid-back mastermind like Flash & Flare (Kyle Erickson) and an alteration specialist such as Concise Kilgore (Tavie Mason) team up for a project, it comes across as not just compelling, but mandatory.
“[Concise] and I made a mixtape called The Checkup back in 2009, and for years we kept sending music back and forth, being like, ‘Let’s do it again, let’s do it again,’ you know?” Flare says. “I’ve been around Fice since the beginning, and so with this, the timing and the situation seemed right.”
Fice has a long track record when it comes to backing local musicians: It’s hosted multiple album release parties, sponsored artists and even foot the bill for locally based music videos like Concise Kilgore’s 2012 video for “Octopussy Tentacles (feat. Action Bronson).”
“Basically, it’s just me and Flare giving back,” Concise says. “They’ve always supported us, and plus, I’ve been down with the owners even before the store existed. So, we were like, ‘Why don’t we make a five-year-anniversary mixtape thanking them for all they do and for just being here?’ ”
To address the Versace elephant in the room, if you think Fice Lords exists solely as an accessory to selling upscale merchandise, I won’t be able to change your mind. But this 45-minute tribute mixtape, available at Fice Gallery, doesn’t come across as a typical thank-you card, let alone a cleverly masked advertisement.
At its core, Fice Lords serves as a tidy synopsis of what Concise Kilgore is capable of, and where Flash & Flare wants to take us. As a general warning, consuming this mixtape will be a foreign experience for fans of either artist. To get an idea, take what you know about Flare’s eclectic sets at Zest Kitchen & Bar’s weekly Stir-Fridays, add some tight production work from local beatsmith Abacus, and, finally, top it off with Concise’s thoughts on tattooed muses and obscure pop-culture references. The result is a refreshingly bizarre blend of everything from straight-up hip-hop to footwork-infused bounce tracks.
“I wanted to pick a lot of shit that I don’t usually rap over to see if I could do it,” Concise says. “It’s so easy to do typical rap shit. But things that are odd, you keep listening to it. It makes you feel a certain way.”
This is most evident on the second track, “Cheesecake.” A UGK sample loops over a beat that fits somewhere between juke and chill-wave, while Concise reminisces in a stuttering cadence about a woman he wished he would have hooked up with in the lyrics “Alice in Wonderland, I’m your biggest fan. I don’t want your number, I just want the summer.”
It’s an unusual mixture of beats, even for Flare, and we see an even more unusual style of rapping from Concise. But stripped down, Fice Lords is somehow rooted in the familiar. A casual listen will leave you feeling like you’re in the back seat of a drop-top ’72 Cutlass Supreme. A chopped-up version of Slum Village’s “Players” is coming through the radio. Concise is riding shotgun, Flare is behind the wheel and, for some reason, everyone is wearing Coogi sweaters.