FLINT, Michigan — Anthony Paul knew at a young age that he was a creative and visual artist. Becoming engrossed in watching BET (Black Entertainment Television) Cypers, an idea took root to bring that type of content to Flint. Unfortunately, while trying to decide his future and several stints in and out of college for videography, the city became known as the murder capital of the country.
Intending to change that narrative and embed himself in Flint music, Paul created FlyCy — a weekly rap cypher of Flint’s seasoned and newcomer generation of music artists and DJs. The goal became to make it known to the world that Flint could stand on the global rap stage.
As years passed and FlyCy grew beyond his initial vision, Paul took the lessons learned and understood that Flint needed a space to turn music dreams into reality. That’s when he found and joined forces with Kevin Clouds and Charlie Leff to build and create the central hub of the Flintdustry: Wav Village.
With a motto consisting of “it takes a village,” Paul is now reaching into all of Flint’s culture to create music and shift the city's wave frequency. Flintside caught up with the studio head to talk about his humble beginnings, what it takes to create a sustainable space and Wav Village’s evolution.
“I hope to outgrow this space. My goal is to provide that space, that cultural representation of what I think Flint needs." - Anthony Paul Flintside: Wav Village is an incredible endeavor on its way to being the hub of Flint music, but what’s the origin story of it all?
: “I was in my twenties trying to figure life out. I knew I wanted to do videos, so I went to Mott Community College for [that]. It’s my first video class in college, sitting next to this older guy, and I got to telling him what I wanted to do. I’d been watching a lot of BET Cyphers, and I thought it’d be dope if Flint had their own.
He said he was in a group called Top Authority, and at that point, I had never heard of [them]. My idea was to teach people who don’t know about Flint through that medium. I didn’t even know about the legends, and one was sitting right next to me. That kind of solidified it. I dropped out of college and invented FlyCy.”
Flintside: Watching the FlyCy videos, it feels as if you were on a mission to change the narrative of Flint. What was the goal of creating FlyCy?
: “We had the highest crime rate in America, so I wanted to show people that we are the hardest in America — in the world. I essentially challenged the whole world, like we got way better artists, better bars, and I’m going to go downtown every week and show y’all. We had a host and artists come down and rap, and that was the creation of FlyCy and what dipped me into the Flint music scene. It was successful in the sense that it brought Flint together.”
Flintside: And from there spawned the creation of Wav Village?
: “I got an intern job at a radio station, and I got deeper and deeper into the scene. I always knew there needed to be a space that artists could use to generate money and give them the resources they need. That’s what I learned from FlyCy. When Kevin, Charlie, and I put this [together], that day, somebody recorded. We’ve been building this for two years, and people have been here every day, all day recording.”
“It comes from the wave — the format in which you receive music." - Paul speaking on the meaning behind Wav Village's logo.
Flintside: I love Wav Village’s logo and its tagline “It takes a village.” It gives me a serene and peaceful feeling. Why name this space in such a manner?
: “It comes from the wave — the format in which you receive music. When Kevin and I started taking it seriously and got together, that word "wave" kept sticking out. I wanted it to feel like people got your back and that it’s bigger than us, bigger than you. That was important, and that’s where the name stemmed from.”
Flintside: Having interviewed women and queer people within the Flintdustry, saying it takes a village doesn’t always mean inclusivity and acceptance. What sets Wav Village apart?
: “This is needed so much that it’s bigger than whatever connections I have in the city. I think that’s why this place is what it is now. I wanted to take it seriously, and I wanted all sides of Flint to feel like this is the hub. I didn’t want this to be our circle of rap friends. I want country and gospel singers, kids, politicians, and the [LGBTQ] community to feel comfortable here. The biggest thing for me is making women feel safe, confident in their music, and wanting to work.”
Flintside: With your talent and knowledge, you could’ve left the city or done nothing at all. What fuels this passion for making Wav Village not only the central hub for music but a safe space for Flint’s creative people?
: “Honestly, I’m a fan. It stemmed from loving the scene and loving the music. We’re so misrepresented, and I feel vindicated in that. We’ve seen that Flint can stand on its own two feet and make an impact in the overall music scene. If we come together and utilize our talents with each other, we’ll get further.”
Flintside: From music to podcasts, food trucks, and more, Wav Village feels poised for success. But, how do you envision all of this to evolve?
: “I hope to outgrow this space. My goal is to provide that space, that cultural representation of what I think Flint needs. I want to make sure that people I believe in and music I believe get represented in a way that I feel like they should. When I say safe space, I mean it. It’s more important to me that people going through the human experience, regardless of what that is, feel safe, have fun, and want to make music.”
For more information about Wav Village, find them on Facebook and Instagram. Are you looking to record music? Check out Wav Village’s website to book a recording or podcast session.