Having seemingly spent most of her 20s honing her craft: writing, recording and performing, FLOHIO (Funmi Ohiosumah) is simultaneously incredibly well endorsed and praised yet still underground and releasing music on her own label. FLOHIO (pronounced FLO – HIGH – OHH) released ‘No Panic No Pain’ late into 2020 and by the buzz of publications this was a long awaited project.
Having released bodies of work every two years, 2021 might have been a relatively quiet and focused year for FLO but we’ve recently spotted on her IG and that of God Colony that an album is in the making. With this anticipation, let’s delve deeper into FLOHIO’s world.
FLOHIO doesn’t fit in. She is by all intents and purposes an outlier in an ecosystem that more often than not recreates and reinforces a particular mould of music. When we talk about ‘Rap’ or Hip Hop more generally there is often furious debate about authenticity, lyricism vs production (finding the two together is somewhat rare) and of course how the music often epitomises masculinity. It’s also a fact that rappers (who happen to be female) get placed in a separate category, pitted against each other never competing with the big boys.
FLO eludes all categorisation, she delivers her reality with a unique cadence and easily switches between different flows and styles. Keeping listeners on their toes, track number 1 FLOFLO! introduces us to FLOHIO’s conflicting worlds and complementing styles of sound. She starts as she means to go on, demonstrating a sonic and lyrical range that most artists would have a hard time reproducing.
FLOHIO’s music seems bespoke for stadiums and mosh pits, any song she is a part of has the capacity to make you move. Her style is loud and in your face but also deeply personal, covering her upbringing, family, pushing back against negativity and trauma, as well as having fun and paving a way for others.
There are also deeper meanings to what she does: the cover art for NPNP shows the artist dressed and surrounded by shades of red with her fingers (wearing a ring given to her by a close friend) over her face in the shape of a triangle or maybe using her middle fingers she’s giving a big ‘fuck you’ to those who don’t get her. The cover looks stark and serious but FLO added to its mystery posting these words alongside it’s release:
“some people won’t get this & that’s okay, that’s why you’ve got it first.”
The second track ‘Unveiled’ (Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record of the Year’ 16/09/2020), produced by Take a Daytrip is also a stand out moment 2 songs into the mixtape. Hailing from across the pond, Take a Daytrip, who have collaborated with two other hyper energetic artists, Denzel Curry and Rico Nasty, bring a dark industrial soundscape punctured by FLO’s rhyme schemes. More distinctly, the line: ‘…getting misplaced, All I needed a place, so I fixed up a house’ stands out to me as her acknowledging just how hard it was for her to find a place in the music world.
So instead of ‘moving’ into a neighbourhood she built a home for herself from scratch. This sentiment perfectly ties into a line from her feature on God Colony’s ‘SE16’ (released 2016): ‘buildin’ my house usin’ nothing but rhythms’. Even after 3 years she is still reflecting on how far she’s come and acknowledging what she had to achieve to get to where she is. It’s also a reminder to new artists to build their own houses instead of trying to fit in to someone else’s vision.
Like any great mixtape, No Panic No Pain includes a range of tracks that cater to different moods, its structure gives us 10 songs lined up with peaks and troughs that keep you engaged. FLOFLO! and Unveiled deliver pounding hype and rage for the mosh pit; Active, Flash and With Ease give a more balanced Hip Hop style but still retain a unique feel.
Booby Traps is this insane drill banger that is the closest thing to heavy metal, both Roundtown and Sweet Flaws offer a haunting sound which FLO has an affinity with. The project ends with Medicine and Stuck in a Dance which soften the edges of FLO’s often raw sound. You’d be forgiven to think that FLOHIO’s only strength is heart pumping adrenaline tracks but when you check out her collaborations with God Colony, Clams Casino, The Streets, Modeselektor and Everything is Recorded (aka Richard Rusell) FLO’s versatility shines through as her greatest strength.
Moving past her music for a second, the number 16 comes up a lot in FLO’s life: in 2016 the God Colony ‘SE16’ collab was released, which pushed her further into the spotlight. Her first EP, Nowhere Near was released on June 16, 2016. Her birthday is on the 16th of September and of course her number one passion: her postcode SE16. If you follow Numerology and Astrology, her birthdate tells us she is a Life Path 1. 1s create innovation by stirring the pot and also fiercely hold onto their originality and putting family first. Regardless of what you think, that’s pretty spot on! FLO is also a Virgo, who lean towards perfectionism, consistent hard working and sometimes prone to over thinking. The number 16 also represents wisdom, independence and introspection, all featuring in her work and life.
FLOHIO’s musical style and image are entirely original and it teaches us that we don’t have to define anything where there is no need to do so. She adapts to each environment, even making waves in the world of fashion (see her ‘FOAM’ collab with MCQ). She spits, she disrupts and she looks good doing it.
FLOHIO is a rockstar, she is out there, and she does not give a fuck. We can’t wait for her new music.