There was always a risk that FLOHIO might become the Dele Alli of UK hip hop; the South London MC has been the perennial one-to-watch since at least 2018. A wonderkid transforming beats by Clams Casino and Modeselektor into some of that year’s most urgent flows, single ’10 More Rounds’ fired her into a Boiler Room frenzy that looked all but sure to make her the next big thing. The uncanny thing with FLOHIO is that – unlike legions of hyped rappers standing with unfulfilled potential – it’s never been her who’s failed to deliver, only the response that’s failed to catch up. Her debut mixtape No Panic No Pain fell to the critics in the same way Black Midi are often criticised for being too virtuosic. What happens when you’re so good at the craft that some people think it appears disingenuous?
None of those criticisms can be levelled at her debut album, Out Of Heart. It’s a collection of songs with as much heart as lyrical flair, where all of her vulnerabilities are out in open fire. ‘Grace’ is a melancholia carousel of the images that haunt her thoughts when she closes her eyes (“Don’t ask me where my smile is / I’m still inside my furnace”), while the closing track is both a love letter to family and a nod to how she hasn’t ‘made it’ yet despite challenging the norms (“I’ve been going against the grain / How we keep breaking these rules?”) Even in the poppiest moments of the album’s production, there’s a sinister edge waiting to cut through. ‘2Hours’ centres the energy of her live show, with a beautifully tender feature by HAWA. And as for FLOHIO, if this isn’t the breakout moment that’s been prophesied for half a decade, that’s really our own problem.
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