Stephanie Asuai Eyime, better known as Phlow, is the female rapper destroying her male competition in Lagos, Nigeria. The name came from her fascination with the flow of fellow artists who inspire her and her understanding of the integral part a rapper’s flow plays in forming a great song. She is now a part of the Str8Buttah Crew and uses her lyricism to show other females that rap is not a skill exclusive to men.
Growing up with two brothers prepared her for working in a male-dominated industry and helped her to find her voice and project it until she was well and truly heard. Influenced by alternative rock, R&B and both US and local Hip Hop, she initially started songwriting in 2005 during her late teens as a way to express herself. Some of her favorite artists include; Nas, Drake, LL Cool J, Nicki Minaj, Mode 9, M.I and Angel Haze. Her older brother was in a gospel rap group at the time and she wanted to outdo his verses, naturally competitive.
By 2009 music became more than a hobby and she started to record her own tracks and cover other artists in her bedroom, to her parents’ amusement. In college studying for a degree in computer science, she joined a group called Jinus and recorded demos while collaborating with other aspiring rappers and local producers. After college, she took part in several rap competitions, often being the only female contestant, and managed to always end up in the Top 5. The Naija rapper was also featured on weekly rap/variety show Don’t Drop The Mic for her freestyles.
Her new EP, Mind, Body & Phlow, features six tracks and one remix. Montreal-based producer and Str8Buttah Productions founder Teck-Zilla executively produced the project, as part her production deal with him. The pair first met through a mutual friend and initially only planned to record one track together, but when Teck-Zilla saw her potential as an artist, he decided to help her produce a whole EP.
The first single from Mind, Body & Phlow is “Reputation” which samples Yvonne Fair’s “Let Your Hair Down.” Phlow bodies the track with her bravado, slick bars about authenticity and undeniable confidence as an emcee. Phlow’s rhymes command attention against the simplistic visuals directed by RCube. The rest of the EP displays her versatility as an artist, with a melodic love song, Hip Hop soul, a fun number and even a reggae remix. The impressive body of work proves that she is one to watch.
You have a degree in computer science. Was it a difficult decision to pursue a career in music instead of getting a stable job in IT?
Yeah, I’m still making that decision really. Trying to balance a music career and a “stable” job in that field. I’m glad I’m putting that knowledge to good use, but music, being a strong passion of mine, seems to take top priority.
What do you feel was the turning point in your career when people started paying attention to you as a rapper?
I think my turning point happened in 2014. I was part of a group back in college and worked on a few little covers here and there, but it all started to become very real and less like a hobby when I finished school. I was fortunate to meet some really talented and passionate people. [I] started to work on some great stuff and it all took off from there really; from being a part of the Hennessy Vs. Class (lyricist edition), to working on Mind, Body & Phlow.
What is the Hip Hop scene like in Nigeria? Do people tend to prefer Afrobeatz and US rap, or do they support the local artists?
The music scene as a whole is pretty interesting out here with so many genres borrowing elements from each other. Afrobeatz (which is technically Afropop) gets the most love, but Hip Hop and Rap still live on. Local artists have really diverse sounds and definitely get support. There’s such a great talent pool out here and we’ve reached a point where people actually appreciate and support [us]. Well, some genres [are supported] more than others.
How do you feel about the term ‘femcee’? Do you feel as though things are improving for female rappers?
To be honest I’m pretty indifferent about the term “femcee.” An emcee is an emcee regardless. I think it’s a little daunting out here for a female rapper. A lot of us tend to start hot and sorta fizzle out, but I think things are improving and it’s getting to a point where people really wanna listen to what a female rapper has to say.
Your bars tend to display a lot of bravado. Were you ever involved in battle rapping? Are there any battle rappers you admire?
Hehe…funny thing is I’m usually really laid back, Switzerland is my middle name LOL. I’ve never really been the battle rap type. Those bars are usually based on my thoughts and they just happen to find their way out somehow.
What does the rest of 2016 hold for you?
2016 is looking pretty great. I’m working on a few other projects that [are] set to drop this year, so watch this space.