It’s not simple being FlexinFab. The 19-year-old, born Fabricio Rojas, is currently riding a wave of success only six months after setting out on his rap career. On the flip side, he’s knee deep in internet trolls and hip-hop purists who think he represents everything that's wrong with the genre today. No matter which side you’re on, Rojas appears to be on the brink of stardom.
It all started last November when Rojas, who’s from North Dallas — or the “Nawf” as he calls it — released the video for “Aye Ok Alright.” It was produced by K Swisha, who has a string of hits under his belt, including MadeinTYO’s breakout mega-hit “Uber Everywhere.”
The bouncy, trap-influenced beat coupled with Rojas’ melodic rap flow makes the song a four-minute earworm. But the video is striking, too. Rojas is seen wearing a variety of looks including a gold grill, gold chains, painted finger nails, a pink onesie, pink ski mask and plenty of designer clothing, all the while showing off handguns, bands of cash and what’s assumed to be codeine syrup.
At the time of writing, the video has 40,000 views and while most of the comments are positive, others are less so. “This is what happens when you grow up without a dominant male role model in your life,” one comment reads. “This is the type of stupid ass bullshit that’s killing rap,” reads another.
Rojas is not oblivious to the criticism. “I do a lot of things most folks of the male gender wouldn’t do. I do a lot of stuff that the next person wouldn’t do,” he says. “They’re gonna talk about me because I’m doing something they can’t. They tell me my music is trash, they call me gay, a bunch of dumb shit but that shit don’t even matter.”
More important than the negative remarks, the video caught the attention of local hip-hop tastemaker and blogger Shawn Cotton, who posted the video to his website SayCheeseTV. From there, Rojas’ music caught the ear of Niles Goodwin, who works at Capitol Records and now co-manages Rojas.
“DJ Elusive sent me the track and I was like, ‘Bro, we need to sign this kid,’” Goodwin says. “I get a lot of records so I’m always listening to new stuff but that really stuck out to me and it’s radio ready. Thirty minutes and I was hooked.”
Now Rojas has a New York-based team who are prepping his next moves, which include recording an EP, a remix for “Aye Ok Alright” and adding him to a national tour. Rojas is working with a producer who’s helping get him on shows coming through Dallas.
Rojas may seem like a cog in a machine these days, but most of his following he built all on his own. He currently has 10,000 followers on Instagram, 150,000 streams on SoundCloud and, most important, his fans show up to his shows.
When he opened for Ugly God at the Green Elephant in March, Rojas had the sold-out crowd fully participating in his performance, rapping the words to his songs and crowdsurfing. An outsider would have thought Rojas was the night’s headliner.
“He’s literally a force of energy, a ball of energy that things gravitate toward,” says Rojas’ local producer, who asked not to be named. “The skies opened up in Nawf Dallas, Texas, and the juice fell from the heavens all over him and his peers and that’s why you can’t help but be fascinated and watch him. It’s just energy.”
“I’m a Leo, so first off, a lion is the king of the jungle and second, the zodiac planet for a Leo is the sun, and what does the universe rotate around? You see me and you’re gonna be like damn I don’t know who that is, I don’t know how I feel about him but I need him,” Rojas says. “Or, you’re gonna say that’s Fab how do you not know who that is? You need me in your life. You either hate me or you love me but you know who I am or know what I do.”
Rojas is defined by his confidence. He’s not afraid to say he’s amazing or that he’s bound for superstardom.
“When you’re around me you feel like you’re around something you’ve never been around before; you gonna feel like you in the presence of some kind of magician or a wizard,” he says.
He even compares himself to legends like Prince and Freddie Mercury, who clearly inspire his loud fashion choices. He wears a lot of chokers and androgynous, low-cut shirts. It’s all a part of his brand of hip-hop, which he calls “glam rap,” because “I’m glamorous and the music is beautiful and it’s happy.”
So why does he still include guns, drugs and the whole “trap” aesthetic in his music? “I’m from that Nawf. I do wanna aim for bigger things and I feel like I am achieving bigger things but even though I’m from the hood I’m not going to enclose myself from where I’m from.”
For all the talk about how unique Rojas and his music are, it’s clear he’s actually part of a new wave of hip-hop that’s gaining footing. In the last few years the commercial success of artists like Young Thug, Lil B and Riff Raff has paved the way for a second generation of artists like Lil Yachty, Post Malone, Lil Uzi Vert and ILoveMakonnen, who buck the norms of traditional hip-hop. Like Rojas, they all take a lot of flack.
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“A couple years ago that style wouldn’t be acceptable and Fab is over the top but he’s not afraid to do it because they’re afraid of acceptance and he’s not worried about that,” Goodwin says. “His fans love his style.”
Rojas’ priority isn’t answering his critics. Instead it’s adding new music to his vault and enjoying all the attention as long as it lasts. “They wouldn’t be criticizing if I wasn’t getting no likes or if I wasn’t on any shows or if I was lame.”