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"FlySpace III" blasts off, despite technical difficulties

Two men in sunglasses, the one on the left wearing a blue sweatshirt and the one on the right wearing black, pose in an all white room with hexagonal light fixtures.
Tobias Borg
Contributed photo
FlyLife (front) and Sqvce pose for "FlySpace III" promotional photos, ahead of the album's March 10 release.

When the vocal files from the duo’s third collaborative FlySpace album got corrupted, FlyLife and Sqvce were faced with a choice: recreate the magic or just move on. On March 10, the two Us Vs. Them standouts released their intergalactic follow-up to 2019’s FlySqvce and 2021’s II. The pair spoke with IPR’s Lucius Pham about re-recording at Carousel Studios, the history of FlySpace and the “longevity” of their partnership.

Houston, we have a problem

After a vicious two days of laying down vocals, FlyLife and Sqvce (said, “Space”) really thought they snapped. It wasn’t until months later, as they prepared their files to go get mixed, that they realized what happened.

“We had recorded the whole project,” says Fly, “and one of my homies he kinda, like, helped me set up my preamp wrong. So, we had to re-record the whole project. We [initially] recorded it all at my crib, then we had to go re-record it all at Carousel [Studios].”

“The entire sh-t,” adds Space. “Maybe three, four months ago we had it fully recorded, fully finished, all that––we just needed to get it to Carousel to mix. I wish people could hear the first [attempt]. When we made that sh-t, bro we were in a different bag.”

With over a decade of collaborative music making under their belts, sessions with Fly and Space are down to a science. Even putting aside their competitive “iron sharpens iron” mentality, the pair work efficiently in the studio, crafting songs and banging out entire bodies of work in just days, sometimes hours. So, after having captured lightning in a bottle across two days with the original FlySpace III vocal tracks, the duo were devastated to lose it all due to some silly wiring mistake.

“That sh-t, I’m not gonna lie, I was very irritated,” says Space.

“It was discouraging,” says Fly, “cause you don’t know how it’s gonna sound and you don’t know, like, am I gonna be able to recapture the energy?”

Two male rappers perform while one man dances outside in front of the trees.
Milk Chocolate Productions
From left, Sqvce, 64cityy and FlyLife perform at the Lauridsen Amphitheater at Water Works Park in 2021.

Recreating the magic

Located inside a nice car garage along a long, open-sky stretch of northeast Des Moines, likely designed to accommodate its billowing recycling facilities and postal delivery bays, Carousel Studios is the definition of tucked away. The interior of the hangar is bright, glossy and white like an Apple Store.

To enter the actual studio, Carousel clients are walked past rows of polished automobiles––some lifted, some dyno’d––undergoing every stage of tuning and calibration. The studio is owned by Derek Steinke and lead engineer Alex Arthur, who also worked with FlyLife on his 2022 full-length debut A Different View.

“And you can ask bro, I was a hundred percent against [re-recording],” says Space. “Like, no, I don’t wanna do that. I was like, it’s not gonna sound the same. Arthur, bro, he really took care of us.”

While difficult, their situation could’ve been worse. Fly had a salvageable recording on his phone, so at least they had a reference. Space was shaky on the lyrics going into their do-over session, and had to cram.

“His phone was intact, I had to get a new phone during the sh-t,” says Space. “By the time four months came back around, I had a new phone, I didn’t have none of my lyrics. So I had to really go by memory and listen to the song before I went in the booth.”

“It’s a blessing,” says Fly, “that we re-recorded.”

A brief history of FlySpace

In full Buzz Lightyear regalia, cartoon versions of rappers FlyLife and Space race to defend the Earth from any that would wish it harm. This is the album cover for the first* FlySqvce record: a laser-sharp eight-song introduction to the Us Vs. Them frontmen as they began their ascent.

Cartoon versions of FlyLife and Space blasting off in front of Earth.
FlyLife & Sqvce
"FlySqvce" (2019)

Two years later, the cover of their 2021 sequel, simply titled II, brought the pair from floating in front of the Earth to standing atop it. Seemingly the only two living beings in the galaxy, Fly rests his arm on Space’s shoulder as they stare down an ominous, fiery blue planet emblazoned with a white “II.” When I interviewed the pair around the time of II’s release, Space described production of the seven-song album as “a three day long party.”

 FlyLife and Sqvce stand on top of the Earth and stare down a fiery blue planet with the Roman numeral "II" on its face.
FlyLife & Sqvce
"II" (2021)

Now 2023, two years after II, FlyLife and Space have deployed their third album: a 14-track “mega-project” that almost never was. The cover for this one, designed by singer-songwriter Antiluv, takes place on a rocky planet. Digitized astronaut avatars of Fly and Space float in zero gravity, the darkness of the cave they occupy illuminated by the glow of a strange, gold cube. Their rocket is seen parked faintly in the distance, and the whole album is Rated P for “Real Players” in the bottom left hand corner. There’s a waning crescent moon in the background, but no Earth to be seen.

“We're all the way gone bro,” says Fly, “It’s outta there.”

“I’m not near Earth right now,” adds Space.

Two astronauts in a cave, behind them: the galaxy and a waning crescent moon.
FlyLife & Sqvce
"FlySpace III" (2023)

*There are technically four FlySpace records. The very first, released about seven years ago, is a throwback to a rougher, more amateur time when the UVT boys were still testing out names and Space sounded kinda like Chance the Rapper. “This is really––we gotta clarify this,” says Fly. “This is really the fourth FlySpace. First FlySpAce was Free SAuce. That’s a capital F, capital S and a capital A. You gotta get on SoundCloud, man, you gotta dig. So you would just have to have been really around us to know that––” Space adds, “To know what was going on. This was before Apple Music and all that stuff.” Fly says, “It’s the third [FlySpace] for everybody, but it’s really the fourth.”

Out of this world: the FlySpace formula

The beauty of a FlySpace collaboration is all in the blending. FlyLife’s forceful, melodic treble pushes, pulled back in equal measure by Space’s untroubled, no-f-cks flow. They often gravitate towards complicated-to-navigate, space age beats, flexing the lyrical bonds they’ve built over ten years of working together.

“The first FlySpace is like a mood,” says Fly. “The second one…it’s kinda gritty. And FlySpace III, in my opinion…Man, this is like all parts of music that we’ve ever touched all in one project, one mega-project. It’s like when they figured out how to put peanut butter and jelly together, this is that.”

Henn & Wine - FlyLife, Sqvce (FlySpace) feat. Foe Dotttss (Shot by Christian Ellwood & Borgology)

Every FlySpace album features two solo songs. Across I, II and III, respectively, Flylife boasts the tracks “So Different,” “Cam Rack$” and “Rubi Rose,” while Space claims “Rock Bottom,” “Bret Hart” and “WTF.”

These newest solo tracks are really something. “WTF” plays to Space’s infinite coolness while Fly gets unruly on the clever “Rubi Rose” (“Wrist wear, very polar, keep it colder huh / And I strike a n——’s b-tch like I’m bowling huh”). Both guys are pretty jealous of each other's solo joints.

“Really all those solo songs, man…” says Fly, with a pause, “...Legendary. That's always one of the best parts of working on FlySpace, because, it's like, I remember recording ‘Rock Bottom’ and I'm like, this is a solo record, I'm trying to get on here. And then I remember when he was saying, like, ‘I'm trying to get on this ‘So Different,’’ but I'm like, it's the solo joint! It's part of FlySpace at this point.”

“It's a key thing we always try to instill in our projects,” says Space, “like, you get yours off, bro, because as much as we're good together, bro, but we're good alone.” (They both said this at the same time.)

Pink portraits of two male rappers facing different directions beneath the text "FLYSPACE III."
Milk Chocolate Productions
"FlySpace III" drops March 10.


FlySpace III kicks off with a tribute to the late Migos rapper Takeoff. Produced by UVT Astro, “TakeOff” is a simple hand-off from Fly to Space complemented by incessantly punchy hi-hats, all “skrt skrt”-ing nicely into the album’s ultracool second track, “2x6.” A strident and familiar Snoop Dogg sample drives this song, which Space brutalizes in the first 60 seconds: “Yeah, Timberland ain’t my name, but b-tch I’m booted up / Yeah, n––––s ain’t cool with Them if they was cool with Us.”

“Met Gala,” the third song, jolts right into a feverishly fast and brassy salsa, only to be whipped right back into the vacuum of outer space by Fly: “What you rep, huh? Throw your set up / If it’s pressure, they gon bring the stretchers / And I’m fresh like I’m finna hit the Met, huh / Mama worried, but she know I keep the weapon.” The song’s intro was actually pulled from a classic New Hollywood stoner comedy, they just don’t remember which one.

“Man, we just heard it,” says Space. “We was watching Cheech and Chong. There’s like a cutscene and that song is playing and them n––––s are dancing and I was like, ‘Bro we have to put that, like, on a song or something.’ It was one of [the movies] bro, I don’t even know. We just put it on on YouTube because we were just trying to take a break from recording real quick.”

Of all the songs on the album, “100K” (“hunnid bands”) will likely leave the deepest imprints on venue floors. Like “450s,” a runaway favorite from FlyLife’s A Different View, the numerically titled “100K” is destined to turn the club up with its explosive build and catchy chorus.

The sixth track, “Fold it Up,” begins with a beat tag: an impressed female voice asking “Oh my god, is that Louis?” to which FlyLife responds, “Nah it’s Bathing Ape!” It’s an infectious song that’ll keep heads on a swivel.

If the beat to track eight: “Talkin’ to,” sounds familiar to that of “Still Booted” off FlySpace II, it may be because they’re siblings. Wanting to revisit the energy of “Still Booted," the pair reached out to the original beatmaker, requesting another in that vein. What they received could just as easily have been produced in the same batch, perhaps even on the same day, as the first.

The ninth track, “Us,” is a tip-toey ode to the “U” in UVT, with some of the best wordsmithery on the album. For the tenth track, UVT member Ace Forgiato lends his distinct baritone to “On the Floor 2”––an answer to FlySpace II’s original “On the Floor.” Ace is the album’s only feature.

“You know, these my brothers, man,” says Forgi, “I don’t know if you listened to Castle Hill [Sessions] but on that…We always got good chemistry together. These my boys, man. These my two favorite rappers, no cap.”

"Deposits" off the Castle Hill Sessions tape, featuring FlyLife, Sqvce and Ace Forgiato.

After “On the Floor 2,” there’s a big pivot. III’s 11th track, “Shooting Stars,” provides the softest touch on the album. It’s an atmospheric, sexy song meant to balance out the more aggressive notes of the album. This one, they profess, is for the ladies.

“Now, you gotta go talk to a lady,” says Space, referring to the shift in attitude from "On the Floor 2" to "Shooting Stars." “I’ve had enough of being a menace today, I need to talk to a woman. Just to see her opinion, how she’s feeling. Shoutout to all the women. Shoutout to everybody being a woman out there cuz I know it’s f-cking hard.”

“You gotta always get one for the fees,” says Fly. “You gotta drop something nice for the ladies. It's gotta be something for them.”

Following “Shooting Stars,” Fly and Space come back swinging with a twinkly, sturdy “Forever P,” impressing the importance of “longevity” in both their music and friendship. This song gets to the heart of the album’s discretionary P-rating, warning that “MATERIAL" may "ONLY SUITABLE FOR REAL PLAYERS”.

They finish out the album with a pair of songs, “Some Racks” and “Need Racks,” tracks 13 and 14, respectively. The latter, “Need Racks,” is another homage to FlyLife’s A Different View, revisiting the idea of dogged pursuit of success “by any means.”

“When you hear the project, I want you to hear the project and be like, ‘I like all 14 of the songs,’” says Fly. “We’re not throwing no ducks out there…these all tuddies. No checkdowns, all touchdowns.”

“We’re moving with diligence, real diligence,” says Space. “Everything is getting done the right way, and finished. No crazy sh-t, no freaky sh-t, no meat left on the bone.”

Completing the mission

2023 is shaping up to be a big year for UVT and all its 20-odd members. Earlier this year, UnoUp6 released the stellar seven-song Him Duncan, and just last week Dominic Harrington dropped his second EP, 4 What it’s Worth: a funky, Sade-sampling revelation. Not to mention that the air is aflutter with talk of an upcoming Vino follow-up from Vin.

UnoUp6 - Laker Purp (Shot by Borgolgy)

On top of all that, the long-speculated, much-hyped UVT group tape, once only myth, appears to be on its way. According to Space, the whole gang’s already gotten together and the end result is surprising.

“Not only is it features you’ve never heard before on any songs,” says Space, “we really mixed it up to where everybody can get a song on there. This is really warfare, ‘Bombs Over Baghdad’ type sh-t. We’re in there battling. Everyone else should be scared.”

With the threat of a UVT group tape (release date TBD) looming, UVT is also preparing to hit some big stages this year. Next month, FlyLife is set to perform a solo set at Mission Creek Festival on Friday, April 7.

“Man, they’re all gonna be at Mission Creek too, man,” says Fly. “You know if I pop out, the gang gotta come!”

“Imma be in the creek on a Mission,” says Space.

“Who would I be if I didn’t? It’s gotta be us. We gotta all slide through there. So we gotta go out to Iowa City and we gotta show them what’s going on in Des Moines.”

This summer, Space––who has appeared on the bill three times prior, including once in collaboration with MAIDS––will join FlyLife and the rest of Us Vs. Them for his fourth 80/35 Music Festival appearance, on Saturday at 6:45 p.m.

FlySpace III launched on Friday, March 10.

Lucius Pham is a writer, producer and videographer based in Des Moines, where he graduated with a bachelor’s of journalism & mass communication from Drake University. Since 2022, Lucius has profiled artists for IPR News and Studio One, including Dionne Warwick, Ginuwine, Pictoria Vark, GZA, McKinley Dixon, spill tab, Ted Park, Caleb Elliott and many more.