With tens of thousands of weekly Soundcloud streams, new tracks in the works and a summer full of networking, rapper FLIP is on the rise — probably.
Jake Nicholas, the man behind the stage name and a University of Minnesota senior studying graphic design, began rapping in high school in order to escape a troublesome friend group and give himself a voice.
The R&B rapper said it was difficult to make a name for himself in his hometown of Milwaukee. “A lot of kids made fun of me in high school for my music ... my rival school would play my stuff during assemblies just to make fun of me,” Nicholas said.
Now, Nicholas has songs such as “kait’s interlude” and "Mission" with hundreds of thousands of listens. He's developed quite the devoted fan-base in the Twin Cities.
Lexi Carstensen, a health services management junior, knew Nicholas for some time before she knew he was FLIP.
“We were talking about what we do in our spare time and he told me he had a Soundcloud,” Carstensen said.
She expected a couple songs with maybe one hundred or so listens.
“I went home to check him out and he had hundreds of thousands of streams and his stuff is really, really good,” she said.
Nicholas said he finds inspiration sporadically but looks up to artists like Drake and Bryson Tiller.
An outspoken Tiller fan herself, Carstensen said FLIP has a very similar sound to him. She prides Nicholas on his ability to remain humble and genuine, despite his perceived success.
While Nicholas records, edits and produces his own tracks, he does get occasional help from Mitch Pustol, a fellow Soundcloud rapper.
The two met their freshman year in Pioneer Hall.
“[Nicholas] became a legend in the dorm,” Pustol said. “His music was starting to blow up, and I said, ‘Alright, I gotta meet this guy.’”
Three years later, Pustol and Nicholas are still helping each other get the perfect clean cut for their tracks.
With classes on the back burner, Nicholas said he has a lot more time to make connections and take his brand to the next level this summer.
Minnesota-native artists have expressed interested in working with FLIP. Bobby Raps, who is signed with Republic Records, reached out to Nicholas after hearing his latest song “Need Some” on the radio. Nicholas hopes to collaborate with Bobby later this month.
In addition to linking up with other artists, he is working with platforms such as ELEVATOR, Apple Music and Spotify.
“I just want people to hear [my music],” he said. “I want to make them feel something.”
Craving Ethiopian food? See FLIP live at The Red Sea restaurant and bar on July 12.
Correction: A previous version of the article misstated the date of Nicholas' performance. He is performing at The Red Sea restaurant and bar on July 12.