South London star Flohio’s hometown show proves she’s on track to be the future of UK rap

Last night's debut headline show from the rising star saw her potential shine

Flohio’s name has been on the lips of those ‘in the know’ for what seems like an eternity. Entire careers have bloomed and wilted since the South London rapper released her blog-busting ‘SE16’ in early 2016, and all the while Funmi Ohio has sat dormant, waiting for her moment to strike. Last month’s debut single proper ‘Bands’ was the bared teeth. At her sold out, hometown headline show, she goes for the jugular.

Taking to Bermondsey Social Club – slap bang in the middle of that aforementioned South London postcode – she fizzes with personality from the off. “You lot really turned up,” she smirks, before breaking off into machine-gun laughter. It’s a humbleness that pops up again and again, in the brief, disbelieving flashes of a smile that punctuate her otherwise fearsome set.

Her catalogue defies genre – one minute she’s rapping about supporting her mum over ambient techno; the next it’s the darker industrial noises of drill that hold her up; after that, she could be soundtracking an Ibiza sunrise. Her flow does a valiant job of tying all these seemingly disparate threads together – while at times the set threatens to fragment too much, with vibes and genres changing on the fly, Flohio’s lyrical dextrousness always manages to pull things back from the brink. “I’m sweating from my ear drums in here,” she laughs, and it’s little surprise given the verbal gymnastics she’s performing.

Her collaborations with God Colony are perhaps the most impressive, the young rapper making light work of the production duo’s scatter-brained works. ‘SE16’ remains an anthem, in spite of its Transformer-like, mutating construction, while the rolling percussion of ‘Fights’ hits as hard as that title would suggest, Flohio herself confessing “I just wanna talk about the fights I won.”

“‘Bop through anywhere I want to’ means that you can do whatever you want, man,” she declares as an intro to that recent single ‘Bands’, a mantra for a new era of post-conservative youth, faced with a thousand things to bop through. As she breaks off to cover her eyes and laugh through multiple rewinds of the track, she might not believe it, but Flohio could be the future.