Album of the week: Flo Mili – Ho, Why is You Here?
Flo Milli is pictured on the cover of her debut album in a crouched stance with an authoritative facial expression. The posture she portrays is very similar to her music-confident, remorseless, and relentlessly cavalier. There’s never a moment where she doesn’t feel like she’s on top of the world, which is pretty impressive for a 20-year-old who, about a year ago, was rapping over random YouTube beats without a car or a job.
When “Beef FloMix” was officially released at the end of 2019, you felt like something special could happen. Sure, there was the subsequent Tik Tok fame and the Cardi B cosign, but to completely destroy a Playboi Carti original in freestyle fashion is unprecedented and frankly remarkable. How the song came about is stuff of folklore. She came home one day broke and depressed, turned the Ethereal beat on, and rapped “I like cash and hair down to my ass” in the most impenetrable tone imaginable. The rest is history. “Beef FloMix” was finished in five life-changing minutes, people happily danced around the world, and the stage was set for one of the most consistent debut mixtapes in quite some time.
When I listen to Ho, Why is You Here? I can picture myself back on the sweaty dance floor at Village Tavern in Salem, MA. sipping a corona under the strobe lights, hoping I don’t get trampled by the many college students who can’t seem to figure out exactly where they are. Most importantly though, I feel like I don’t belong, and that’s because I’m not invited. Flo functions as her own private DJ in a way, chanting indelible choruses and rapping Instagram-ready lines that basic bros just wouldn’t understand. No matter who’s producing the track, Flo will undoubtedly be the center of attention purely off of head-turning punchlines and straightforward instructions. When she proudly exclaims that no man can handle her on ‘Send the Addy,” you believe her. Her voice simultaneously sounds annoyed, assured, and incurious. Things are the way she likes it, and that’s just the way it is.
The tape is a clear celebration of everything Flo’s accomplished in her short tenure. She’ll make people laugh (“Big top, small legs, bitch built like a wine glass”), dance (“May I”), and obsessively sing (“Scuse Me”) until the leaves change color. Her ability to mix and match flows on a song like “May I” feels like an appetizer for what’s to come. The backend of the album cleverly incorporates more sonically-diverse imagery, which bodes well when paired with the minimalist, bass-thumping production found within the beginning of the album. Flo can rap over anything, even when the narrative is familiar. Fuck the haters, never trust authority, and always run up that bag. The choruses weave in and out of the verses with a seamless energy. Flo cannot be stopped. She’s like LeBron running a fast break. You can try to block her, but your efforts will not be successful. Why? Because she’s better than you. And if you’re mad about it, her response would look something like the Jordan shrug. Oh well.
Some other music to consider
30Deep Grimeyy – Grimeyy 2 Society
30Deep Grimeyy may be the best rapper out of St. Louis right now. Artists are certainly never responsible for illustrating every nook and cranny of their lifestyle. Some things are usually too personal for the public eye. Grimeyy operates as a contrapositive in this scenario. Songs like “Drill Lessons” and “Alone” are meditative confessionals that are as vivid as the namesake tattoo pictured on his chest in music videos (“I been feeling pain ever since my brother died/I’m on top and he ain’t with me, I just wish he was alive”).
His diaristic songwriting and horrorcore influences (“Like the Mud” functions inside the latter) can sometimes feel painfully overbearing, but that’s the basic, genuine thread in his art. Grimeyy is as much a part of these gun-toting tales as anyone he references. The 9-5 job he was working was just a side project.
Compared to Splash Brothers-the 2019 collaborative tape with his close friend NWM Cee Murdaa-Grimeyy’s layered vocals sound more gruff and filled with testosterone on his debut. He works in a similar lane as NLE Choppa, but his singing continues to separate him from that type of comparison. In a similar vein to a Polo G, Grimeyy is at his best when he sings with a heavy heart, reminiscing on famlial death amidst the dark crevices of St. Louis that are riddled with crooked cops and relentless opposition. He’s an artist unafraid to approach vulnerability with an open mind. That in itself will be enough to propel him past the YouTube fame.
Thouxanbanfauni – “Black Out Boyz 4Life”
Thouxanbanfauni’s brand of cloud trap is like a shot of endless adrenaline that only seems to let up when an unnecessary feature comes through. His new mixtape Clairvoyance stretches and bends within its own lane. “Black Out Boyz 4Life” is the perfect mixture of dreamy, boundless energy that Fauni’s been trying to master for a few years now.
The futuristic synths act as a spaceship for Fauni’s lightning speed flow, while the clamping 808s careen off the mix like airborne turbulence. His flow is equal parts nutty and admirably derailed. Taking a breath isn’t an option when life can end at any moment. The eccentric rapper appears happily detached from Earth, living off of nothing more than his own mystical thoughts and Louis V designer clothing. Lucky guy.
Gao the Arsonist and his Instagram snippets
Instagram can be a useless mechanism for status updates and pretentious “beauty.” At this point, I could care less about people’s unwarranted summer travels or daily wine hookups. I’d rather bask in the filth of my own cynicism, or worry about things that are much more important than that German beer place I visited about seven years ago in February.
The one lifeline that’s keeping me from pressing the delete button on the app is Gao the Arsonist’s recent beat snippets. For those who don’t know, the underground multi-talent is a rapper/producer who maneuvers with the kind of mystique that’s also found somewhere inside his eccentric music. He’s a purposeful enigma who happily lives within his dystopian art, which coincidentally makes the product so much more intriguing.
Unlike most artists-who simply use their Instagram account for album updates and chart success-Gao utilizes the picture algorithm for astute explanations on his current vision. Most of his posts involve the aforementioned beat snippet, accompanied by an explanation for where the influence came from, and what artists subsequently used it. Most of his sampling includes classic cinema from the 1930s or the Batman franchise, but there’s also some other voice-overs from modern indie movies like The Killing of a Sacred Deer. These tiny additions are perfect buildups for whatever world Gao wants us to be a part of, whether unsettled or majestically serene. “I really love films that use magical realism and just throw you in a world exactly like ours but with unexplained qualities that make no sense to us,” Gao proclaims in one of the posts. The sentiment makes sense, because that’s exactly what his 2020 collaborative project Solstice sounded like. His rapping usually reaffirms these atmospheric tonalities. Check out his Instagram, and see what Gao’s been cooking up. You won’t be disappointed.
The Weekend of Wiz
Both of these songs perfectly encapsulate the strengths of Wiz Khalifa. There’s the disco-inspired Shoreline single that sounds like “Gin And Drugs” off of Rolling Papers 2.
Then, we have what may be one of my favorite songs of the summer. The slow jazz-induced crawl courtesy of Harry Fraud’s sun-soaked imagery. The calm and collective spiritual energy found between Wiz and Curren$y. They successfully continue their reign as the second coming of the two dope boys in a Cadillac. Pools and Range Rovers never sounded so unflappable. Per usual, Wiz has an innate ability to flip-flop between club bangers and hotbox smoke sessions with unbreakable confidence. Curren$y meanwhile quietly maintains a consistent body of work. Life just comes easy for them.