Flint, MI—When Marlon Brown Jr. sits down to work, he becomes Enrgy.

It’s his name as a producer, but it also represents a sound he’s been cultivating since childhood—a sound that’s become uniquely “Flint.”  

The 20-year-old has produced music for some of Flint’s most well known rap artists like YN Jay, YSR Gramz, and Rio Da Yung OG. But he’s also worked with mainstream names like Lil Yachty, EST Gee, and Moneybagg Yo.  

His tracks, including “Coochie” by YN Jay and “Legendary” by Rio, have received millions of views on YouTube and brought Flint music to a national audience.

“Between the ages of 12 (and 17), I was really trying to find the identity. I was trying to find the identity of who I am and then use it,” Enrgy said.

His signature “Flint type beat” punctuates bass drums with energetic tempos, creating a groovy, catchy sound, he said.

Marlon Brown Jr. also known as Enrgy, (left) working at Mix Factory One Studios in Southfield, Mich. on Jan. 11, 2022, alongside the engineer Lootbaby. (Courtesy of Jay, The Villain)

“It can be dark, and it can be very melodic at times,” Enrgy said.

The sound debuted in 2019 when Enrgy worked with his first artist YSR Gramz on the album “Tap In.” He was a senior in high school at the time.

While producing the album, he had one goal: he didn’t want to sound like Detroit.

“That thing came about off the simple fact that we are not Detroit,” Enrgy said. “Anything that’s coming out of Michigan, it’s automatically assumed that it’s the Detroit style because Detroit is the bigger city.”

As his career progressed, he noticed Flint artists even rapped differently than those from Detroit. They were goofier, raw, and freer, he said.  

“We never wanted to be Detroit. … I wanted to snap that,” Enrgy said.

From the womb, to the PlayStation, to the Studio

Enrgy’s father and manager, Marlon Brown Sr., said Enrgy was born into music.

“His mother said that he would stop kicking her when I turned music on,” Brown said. “I would put my hand on her stomach, and he was kicking her. I hit the button, stop. Turn it off, he’d kick.”  

Growing up in the 70s, Brown was exposed to artists like Prince and Michael Jackson early on—and then hip-hop went mainstream.

Marlon Brown Jr., also known as Enrgy with his father Marlon Brown in downtown Flint, Mich. on Jan. 21, 2022. Enrgy has produced for Flint rappers like YN Jay, YSR Gramz, and Rio Da Yung OG, as well as mainstream names like Lil Yachty, EST Gee, and Moneybagg Yo. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

“Once I heard that, it was over. I always tell people, when we heard hip-hop it was like a switch went off,” Brown said. “Hip-hop is culture. It’s more than music. It’s a feeling more than anything. … It’s in our DNA at this point.”

Brown started making beats as a hobby. But by the time Enrgy was born in 2000, Brown had an at-home studio and was producing music for local artists.

When Enrgy turned three, he made his first beat on a PlayStation game called MTV Music Generator.

“His room’s right on top of my studio. So, we could hear him making beats. … And I would turn my music off, go upstairs and say, ‘Son, can I get that beat?’ And he’d be like, ‘Yeah, Dad,’ and I’d be like, ‘I’ll pay you later,’” Brown said, adding that artists would sometimes prefer Enrgy’s beats to his own.

A New Chapter  

These days, Enrgy wakes up, makes beats (though not on his PlayStation), and repeats.

“I don’t do nothing. I don’t go out. I just make beats all day,” Enrgy said. “I’m trying to be consistent and continue to grow and continue to make it.”

Marlon Brown Jr. also known as producer Enrgy in downtown Flint, Mich. on Jan. 21, 2022. Enrgy started making music when he was just three years old and is now responsible for creating the “Flint sound”. (KT Kanazawich | Flint Beat)

He’s still producing for the “core group” of Flint rappers, but he’s ready for a new stage in his life.

“I feel like now it’s time for me to leave. I just want to see something different.”

Brown said his son hasn’t even “scratched the surface” of his potential.

“As a father, outside of being his manager, outside of being really tapped into music because I’m in the business, too, I couldn’t be more proud,” Brown said.

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...

7 replies on “Meet the man behind Flint’s iconic hip-hop sound”

  1. WOW this is great to hear about Young KING energy like that name, also I need to get back into fundraising to see if can help this young man reach his full potential.. I’m down to help..Ps coming straight out of Flint Michigan..

  2. I am so proud of you coming out,of Flint Michigan where I was born at .iam very happy to see a young artist from my home town getting his props keep up the good work home boy I will share the blessings

  3. Amazing, fantastic and so much more. Great to see others reaching for the stars, their dream is reassuring that our youth isn’t being wasted or erased. Sorry that I haven’t heard your music (or maybe I have and don’t know), keep up with your amazing talent, work ethics (too much anymore our youth wastes their time and don’t strive to be their best) and I hope to hear your music soon (maybe I have, enjoyed the best and didn’t know it was you) as well as, see you working with the best….Snoop, Dr. Dre, etc. I’m SO PROUD OF YOU, RESPECT YOUR DRIVE & PERSEVERANCE…..MOST OF ALL PROUD TO SAY THAT YOU ARE FROM FLINT, MI. That’s right people HE IS FROM FLINT, MI like many other great musicians, actors, athletes, etc. 💙

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