Album Review: Flow Flani’s “The Skilled Tape” EP

Known for his powerful beat boxing skills, Kenyan artist Flow Flani, who started performing in 2004, has risen above wits to outsmart those who never believed a stutter like him would make it in the entertainment industry.

The artist flows fluidly with the lyrics, accompanies by that scruffy kick and snare as well-structured words spill out to send a message be it of love, rebuke or correction. Born Ayub Wakaba wa Kairigo, the amiable multi-talented artists brings skill alive in his EP, “The Skilled Tape” released 2016. To Flow Flani, Music is in every rhythm of any life-from; the noticeable walkers on the streets, to snippets of dialogue and laughter, a unique level of bold, natty yet refreshing taste in poetry.

The EP is a collection of Flow Flani’s latest works. From what could pass out as mundane oddments of conversation to actual spoken word and music, the artist has done an incredible job to evoke thought and at the same time crack your ribs, with just a bit of that ‘nasty’ and deliberately hazy taste of words.

On “Who am I”, the artist twines a playful pun and punchlines as he embellishes his role as a master craftsman in reshaping the demented earth. “In between liqueur dens and whore houses… I am a piece of shit. I am Hercules with words. Locked in between syllables while serving the sentence” It is such that display him as a word master. He is dexterous as much as he is real, while he wanders with freedom between words and beat boxing all through the EP.

‘Aint a Joke’ snaps its fingers to the negatives that have been transformed into the accepted new normal, that man biting dog is no longer that juicy story that would make news. Flow Flani opens the wound of reality in this piece, takes the form of a sadist as he pokes at it with relish, he unambiguously shows his annoyance and enjoyment as well. The piece is a collection of varied themes that into one defines the being of the universe. From bad leadership, domestic violence, long day working and meager pay to poverty, the piece says it all. “Mnayemwita hero na heshima, anaplan kutu Hiroshima; sisi wote huamkia Kofi/Coffee, issue ni venye wengine huikunywa wengine wakiipokea kwa uso/ tumehave kufunga library, tufungue movie shop juu akili ziko lazy kupicture scenery.”  (The one you call a hero is planning a Hiroshima on us/we all wake up to a cup of coffee, some of us drink it, or get slapped in the face/we have had to close our libraries so that we can open movie shops for our mind is too lazy to picture the scenery) he quips.

“Freedom” and “Legendary” on the other hand lean heavily on rap and its structures; the artist defines personal freedoms and those that come through associations. He talks about the struggle for freedom which is culminated in “Legendary”, he makes references to the likes of Martin Luther King Jnr and Ngugi wa Thiong’o as legends. Other pieces like Andu (the people) highlights the lack of humanity and the trends in human hierarchy respectively.

In its dying minutes “Dunia ina Mambo” laments of the increasingly highly commercialized world. Thereafter, it descends in what can be seen as Flow Flani’s autobiography and deserved bragging rights in the piece “Skilled”.

The EP bears quite a lot of great musical strides, from the rhythmic Hip Hop flow to the sunning guitar riffs not forgetting the beat boxing, characters that gifts life to the whole project.

Flow Flani has so far produced a documentary of his life titled ‘Not4Fame’ and an album “Nyumba za Mabati” with his band known by the moniker BendiFlani. The Kenyan 44th Slam King has performed alongside various top artists in his country, the likes of; Mufasa, Teardrops and Music bands like H_Art the Band, Elani and Zikki Band.

Photo Courtesy: Flow Flani, Credit: Ndugu Photography

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