Flohio has sought to represent and inspire UK youth through her work in the hip hop and grime scene, but, while reaching out to new audiences, is hoping to help unify a broken society.
Text by Liam Arrowsmith
Photography provided by Flohio
Approx reading time: 5 mins
South London rapper Flohio is making spectacular waves in the underground hip hop and grime scene. She recently featured on God Colony’s track SE16, selected as Huw Stephens ‘Tune of the Week’ for Radio 1. Her latest announcement is a performance at the Tate Modern as part of their Late at Tate: Rang Barang exhibition.
“The theme is an art piece by this artist called Rasheed Araeen. Basically the artwork he created, there’s four colours in it: there’s blue, red, yellow and orange. The artists go on and do their own interpretations of those colours. I’m going to be creating my own little piece. I’m going to be there from six till nine, and I’ve got a few friends to jump on board like Cassive and God Colony,” she says.
“And we’re going to just put on a performance in the gallery. I don’t want to say a gig because it’s not a gig, but, I’m just going to try to make it as creative as it can be. We’re going to have the colours, we’re going to have some projections happening, and it’s going to be a wild night.”
Flohio describes how a big part of the appeal of the project comes from the diversity of the audience. “It’s about connecting people from across the river, everyone is together. You get people from Peckham and people from Bermondsey in the same room.”
There’s little concern for Flohio about the class of the crowd. “Music shouldn’t be open to just one sort of audience. It doesn’t matter what genre it is, if the music is good and everyone’s having fun, and the bigger the audience, the better. It doesn’t matter.”
“The working class and the middle class are two different lifestyles, but still, at the end of the day the music is fun and it brings people together and it’s a vibe. That’s what I love about it.”
There is still much that can be done she feels to tackle the divide. “I wouldn’t say people are starting to understand [each other]. I don’t know if people are trying to understand.”
So why did she take the gig at the Tate? “I’m all about the youth,” Flohio says. “What they’re trying to do is connect with the youth. And nearly all the youth right now are into grime, and this cool culture that’s happening in music and in London at the moment, so who wouldn’t want to be involved in that?"
This is evidently something close to her heart. “I love the youth. I’m a youth myself and the youth is the future, the youth is the next generation. I and everything I do, I want to do it for the youth. Not even just in England, but the youth all around the world like, they have what it takes.
"But they have no one to push them. They just need a bit of a role model. I’m working towards being that role model.”
But its not only the young that Flohio is campaigning for, as she calls for women to be given a bigger share of the limelight in the music industry. “Every time [people] talk about women in music, say like, when they’re doing shows or whatever, if there’s a woman on, they say ‘oh she’s a female rapper’. Like, no, she’s just a rapper, why do you have to say ‘female rapper'? You don’t say Skepta is a ‘male rapper’.”
She firmly believes that women in the mainstream have it the hardest. “The women who are doing it, they have to be like, the ultimate women. She has to look like Wonder Woman or some shit, she’s got to have the tits and have her hair all nice and her make-up done brilliant, or whatever.” Though this is something Flohio shies away from in her own image.
“I’m not your typical female, I’m not trying to be the girl next door or whatever. I’m just the average young girl that likes music and chills with a lot of people that create music.
“When you start moving away from that, you get a bit distorted, and your vision gets blurred. It’s about being connected to your roots and being real with yourself.”
Flohio feels it “110%” necessary to remember your roots. “For me personally, the more I grow and see new things, I want to come back to base and share everything I’ve learnt with everybody else, because, I know so many talented people back here [South London].”
Evidently, Flohio owes a lot to her hometown, and the people in it. “I had people that pushed me,” she says. “The way I got here, there’s this scheme where young people sign up and get a mentor from the industry they want to go into and I wanted to go into the music industry. And I guess I’m just that kind of person that, when I want to put my mind up to something, I get what I want. I’m very spiritual, it’s a lot bigger than just me. Other things are working with me.”
It’s clear that the people in Flohio’s life are very dear to her. A major part of her work is her collective. “TruLuvCru is a collective of me and my friends. We all grew up in the same area, and everyone just happened to do the same thing. This was like 10 years ago. Everyone was into creative stuff, we met and ever since then we’ve made music and done creative things. We came together as a collective, we’re all individual artists, but we all create together.”
It was hard not to feel the excitement and the passion driving Flohio. As we finished our conversation, she says: “This is just the start of Flohio and her journey, there’s going to be more great things to come. I can see it.” And I believe her.
Text by Liam Arrowsmith
Photography provided by Flohio.