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He started spinning records at 16, but it didn’t take long for Aston Taylor’s influence to spread beyond his native Brooklyn . Today, as Funkmaster Flex, the son of a Jamaican immigrant reigns supreme in the hip-hop scene.


The New York-based radio star’s influence is spreading beyond the music scene. He parlayed his fixation with muscle cars into a show on SpikeTV, “Ride with Funkmaster Flex.” He reprised that show’s success with a new series on ESPN, showing him at work customizing his garage full of collector cars.


Now the Funkmaster has signed on with Ford Motor Co. Last autumn, he took the stage in Las Vegas, rolling out his first take on the automaker’s new Fusion sedan at the annual convention of the Specialty & Equipment Marketers Association. Later this year, the hip-hop legend plans to give away a customized version of Ford’s big F-150 pickup.


“I’ve learned to live with my addiction,” he said with a deep laugh rising up out of his massive frame. “I always had a love of cars, and started putting them together myself,” he added, during an interview at the New York Auto Show.


Musicians like rapper Ludacris took notice and began hiring the Funkmaster to do their own custom jobs. The DJ’s wife started videotaping the projects, and that kicked off the idea of a TV show.


Asked how many cars he owns, Flex pauses to do some mental arithmetic. “Thirty,” he says, pausing for a quick recount, “Yeah, 30 up-and-running, and probably ten project (cars)” still in the works.

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