Local music: Freaky Franz

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Franz Lyons had already toured the world as a skateboarder, roadie, model and musician before he started rapping under the name Freaky Franz last May.

"Being a rapper is sweet," said Lyons, 23, a Hilltop native now based in the Short North. "You get money, you get to go places and people do what you say to do. And you get to hang out with your friends all the time. Who wouldn't want to do that?"

The rap game's not that easy for everybody, but Lyons is one of those magnetic figures who seems to strike gold wherever he wanders. And he wanders far and wide; he toured 32 states and seven countries last year.

Lyons skates for Embassy Boardshop. He drums in local hardcore band Empire and plays bass for Baltimore-based Turnstile. He has tour-managed Baltimore hardcore combo Trapped Under Ice, though not last week when they beat up a fan in Germany. He has modeled for Converse and skated in an M.I.A. video.

Last winter Lyons added a local rap hit to his resume. "Karl Malone" is a woozy club banger built on Lyons' drunken synth beat and top-of-his-lungs boasts like "I NBA Jam the game/ Goddamn I'm heatin' up!"

It showed how quickly Lyons caught on after first toying with an MPC at Fly.Union's studio last May - and how much Too Short he absorbed as a child.

"Everybody likes foul rap music that you can just stand in the club and just hang out to. If you want to be drunk and dance to it, you can," Lyons said. "It's not like rap with a message. It's that real 'go to the bar and hang out if you're trying to dance on somebody' music."

Freaky Franz made his live debut at his deejay Cornelius Jackson's Trap Party at Circus and followed with an appearance at Switchboard, a monthly party in New York curated by Brooklyn duo Telephoned.

Now he's set to release debut mixtape "The Freaky Tales" with a listening party Sunday at 83 Gallery, though not before he and Jackson open for Chip Tha Ripper at The Mansion on Friday.

They'll open for internet cult hero Lil B in Cincinnati and Columbus later this month. Work is underway for a follow-up mixtape, "Tour de Franz."

"The funny thing is, with all this music, we just wanted to be pro skateboarders," Jackson said.

Lyons concurred: "I'm still chasing that dream!"