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Flohio - Wild Yout EP Music Album Reviews

The South East London rapper carves out a lane between grime and UK rap on an EP marked by industrial-strength 808s and her own playful bark.

The video for Flohio’s “Wild Yout” makes for a disorienting backdrop to the title track of the young UK rapper’s second EP. The drab, claustrophobic corridors of housing estates give way to images of a camo-clad Flohio in an overgrown London heath, posing and bopping among forests and purple flowers, crosscut with grainy close-ups of her crowd-surfing. The distant cranes and skyscrapers revealed at the end complete the picture of an urban jungle. It’s a visual approximation of the wildness fueling Flohio’s music—specifically, the untamed creativity that makes her one of the city’s most exciting young MCs. It’s easy to find her sound thrilling—if also sometimes tiring in its relentless, pounding delivery.

The EP’s four tracks are all produced by 808-sliding HLMNSRA, who injects his own brand of the industrial trap sound that Flohio tends toward: thickening and thinning hyper-electronica with binding coherence and clear consideration for the accented flows laid on top. Only one song, “Toxic,” takes a step back from the broader intensity, aligning mellow vocals with ethereal instrumentation and stirring in mature contemplation about people and relationships, rather than lashing out or seeking to prove something, her default mode. It shows a new and more complex side of the London rapper, and it’s the standout moment on the EP. More of this would be welcome, and would frankly serve to offset the stressful, jarring synths of “Breeze,” the weak link in an otherwise neat effort to showcase the talent of an artist still figuring things out.

Part of what makes this EP so interesting as a mile marker in Flohio’s explosive rise is how it helps to place her within the spectrum of London’s music scene. Born in Nigeria, Flohio has lived since she was a small child in Bermondsey, in South East London—SE16, to be precise, a postcode she chanted over production duo God Colony’s industrial thwack back in 2016. In terms of geographical proximity and a refusal to be boxed in, she shares traits with the fellow proud SE London local Octavian: She’s a product of transnational upbringing; an embracer of hope and grit in the harsh inner-city cold; a sudden regenerator of the eclectic sonic influences filling the postcolonial capital’s streets right now.

It would be incorrect to simply label Flohio’s music here grime or trap. She takes from and transcends both in equal measure: spitting one minute, rapping the next. “Bop Thru” has the same catchy, anthemic feel as “Wild Yout,” and the punchy lyrics and cadences of both will inspire sing-alongs from raucous crowds. Flohio has continued to adapt to her producers’ tempos, flowing with deliberate boldness and flair, and channeling the mind’s-eye image of a gun-finger-filled warehouse rave, rather than a pirate-radio set. Her fearless, booming voice recalls the soulful yelp of grime veteran Shystie on her 2004 classic “One Wish,” employing a tone of rugged, unforgiving aggression as a weapon to smash through the glass ceiling of a male-dominated scene.

Flohio’s outrageous and even intimidating confidence here is enough to suggest we’re listening to someone who’s both learning and having fun, exploring her identity while tearing up dance floors across the nation. The hype is real, and justified. It’s an exciting way to end a year of sizzling building-block growth.

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