“I’m ready for anything/ But ain’t trying to be everything… I’m leading, tryna delegate/ And be relevant”.
The above bar confirms something about Phlow: She is very conscious of who she is as an artist. And ready to make an impact with her art. These hints are prevalent on her short, concise and excellently packaged six (6) track ”Gloria EP”.
This 2019 release is inspired by her personal life experiences and her growth over the years as an artist. Phlow present these themes in a soulful clad, melody driven, hip hop drum seethed and eclectic lo-fi sonic variations.
“Gloria EP” is spoken word poetry meet hip-hop. Phlow’s poetry and hip hop tendencies sparkle, courtesy her delivery and ability to express her thoughts in succinct doses; betraying her poetic sensibilities.
The EP opens with “Intro”, a lo-fi trap toned song with choir renditions bubbling in a distant. Phlow doesn’t rap over the Teck-Zilla beat. She, however, allows Vitamin Cea to talk-rap over it. Like the opening scene of a movie, “Gloria Intro” captures the vibe of the EP. Vitamin Cea talks about life, its struggles; leaving you a note of comfort: “the struggle’s just part of the journey”. (Is that a Nina Simone sample I hear in there?).
Phlow’s name might not toll loud for those outside of Nigeria – and perhaps, those in Nigeria The Str8Buttah artist has grown a brand over time through a series of EPs, singles and videos. Her talent has caught the eyes of many within the music community, resulting in features from international music sites like HipHopDX, TheSource.com, 2DopeBoyz and a mention from Elle (France) Magazine as one of the newest female rappers making an impression on the rap landscape. Phlow recently made an appearance on Show Dem Camp’s song, “No White Flags”, off Clone Wars Vol. IV.
“They say they killed the game but it ain’t gory enough/ So, I’ll do that which they slow enough, took glory enough”
On “Carp Diem”, she rapped about coming to terms with her reality- finding her path in the midst of the chaos around her. Khandie was on hand to lend a catchy performance on the hook.
Listening to “Gloria EP”, one could not escape its journal-eque influence. Phlow is reading to us some of the thoughts she had scribbled in her ‘book of secrets’. “5 Pages” affirmed that: “Trying to find what I’m looking for/ One door shuts, I’m tryna open more/ With my head held high/It’s higher than before”. “5 Pages” is about contentment, building your worth, one step at a time: ”the grass ain’t always greener even on the other side”, she reminded both herself and the listener. The stumping kick and bass and its dusty feel handed it a vintage aura.
Keeping the dream in view, refusing to get distracted is the theme explored on “You = Hustle”. (The title even speak loads). Phlow addressed the many criticisms levelled at her by everyone, including friends and critics. “Forget what they want me to want”, she eloquently made known. ‘I’m just reaching out further than they want”.
Self introspections and examinations are never complete without a hint at a scarring moment in life: love relationships. “Stand It” explores the misfortune of heartbreak. Couched in a poet’s language – the lyrics are layered: “Blinds loose, guess the timing made it/I’m all torn up, rip the pages”, the pain in her voice is felt despite attempts at suppressing it (maybe that’s not intended to be the case) . The one- verse- and- chorus “Stand In” is one of the shortest songs on the EP.
“Gloria EP” demonstrate the talents of Phlow: a rapper and a writer. She knows when to float over the beats crafted by her Stru8 Buttah Records producers- soulful, dusty and excellently chopped samples. The chemistry between an artist and producers in terms of sonic appeal radiates elegantly on this EP.
The choice of features didn’t go south either: each vocal work from Khandie, Vitamin Cea, Scarlet, Maka served an intended purpose: spread their soulful vocals. Just like how the producers knew what works for her, the featured guests also did spread the requisite dose of vocal flavour to soothe Phlow’s deliveries.
Placing skits as intros to songs or closing chapters from family members, radio hosts and OGs like Modenine wasn’t just for aesthetic value: it was a nod to her talents and bravado- being different, not chasing validation by dabbling in today’s party or turnt-up music.
In an era where artists are sacrificing their uniqueness due to label pressure or attempt to blend in. Phlowe isn’t one of those. She has a lane which she is applying herself to elevate. This shows in her previous works like “Asuai”, “Mind, Body & Phlow. And like she succinctly stated, ”All I wanna do is spit venom on they vain heads’. Phlow knows what hip-hop means.