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Flo Brown: Inevitable

I’ve never been alive and there wasn’t hip-hop.

That is why I feel like I’m fortunate to have this in my life. I’m blessed.

–Flo Brown

The relationship between an individual MC and

hiphop is one that can be observed through the artist’s musical execution. Some

emcees have a relationship with hiphop that is strictly based upon money. Not

to knock, though, because it obviously works for them but for an MC like Brick

City’s Flo Brown, her relationship with hiphop is based upon a different dependency.

This type of reliance is unyielding and allows her to continually look towards

hiphop for her personal survival whether in sickness or in health. Just by listening

to her, you know that her love for hiphop is not a gimmick, but a life’s promise

with a reciprocated love demonstrated in her own existence. Through an unconditional

trust in where the music will lead, Flo has found a defined purpose that maintains

her livelihood. f*ck what you heard or have become accustomed to believing.

The (healing and growing) power of hiphop is deep and is as real to Flo as the

air she breathes between bars. "Whatever is going to happen with my music"

Flo contests, "I am going to leave with it."

Her dedication isn’t in vain. Flo’s lyrics have

the precision to tear through your psyche faster than you can comprehend. Her

poetic beginnings give rise to rhymes laced with complex patterns intermingled

with incisive imagery. As a self-directed student of some of hip-hop’s greatest

teachers, Queen Latifah, Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane, her delivery is as deft

as the words that surge out of her spirit, packaged not in a fluffy decorative

covering, but in a raw and resilient core. From Philly, to D.C. to New York,

her stage performance leaves you with that dumbfounded look, not sure if you

heard right, prompting you to question, "Did she really just rip it like

that?" You feel her whether you want to or not and a level of respect forms

naturally because she offers no uncertainties about herself, her music or her

calling. Armed with a firm faith in her art, she is inevitable.

Allhiphop: How did you get into rapping? I know

that you started out as a poet.

Flo: I wrote poetry since I was real little.

I would re-write lyrics and I was real into hiphop when I was five, six, seven,

so I would know everything about the lyrics. When I got a little older, like

in the eighth grade, I would write my own lyrics in the form of poems. When

I got to high school is when I started to write raps, but I still didn’t take

it seriously. When I was a freshman, my history teacher would let me say a poem

at the end of class, it was kind of funny. I remember this one rap I wrote for

my English class, it was so whack, it had references to red, black, and green

and February being the shortest month of the year.

But even back then I looked at the MC as like

oh my god. Like Queen Latifah, Rakim, they were like the ultimate to me. I always

had this respect for the game, but it wasn’t until I got to Howard that everything

opened up for me. I guess it was because of the fact that I never dealt with

my father’s death or his life and I was in DC by myself so I just started writing

poems crazily. I associated writing with therapy. I was writing real powerful

stuff at the time and after I wrote them I wanted to hear them. So for the first

time I attended a poetry reading at one of the boys’ dorms and read my poetry

there. After that it was like a growth spurt and I started writing rhymes along

with my poetry.

AHH: Did the delivery come natural to you?

Flo: Yep, it was the flow. I was always called

Flo, since I was little. That’s how I know I am supposed to be doing this, it’s

so natural.

AHH: How did you get hooked up with Lyricist

Lounge?

Flo: I did this show in Newark that Mos Def hosted.

Because anytime there was a show or something, somebody in Jersey or DC would

call me and I would go through. So after I performed that day, Danny from Lyricist

Lounge came up to me and told me about one of their upcoming shows. So I auditioned

for him and he liked it, so I opened for Common at Flamingo. That was one of

my first real shows where I rapped because I hadn’t really rapped on stage,

people really just knew me for my poetry at that time.

AHH: What would you say are your main obstacles?

Flo: Probably just a lot of ego. Because everyone

is fighting for their agenda, you know, whatever they are about. In hip-hop

I look at it as tribal. Like there’s this tribe that talks about guns, and this

tribe that talks about sex and woman, and this tribe talking about the art of

rhyming. Everybody got their own agenda, everybody is trying to bring their

own noise. You ain’t going to get an opportunity to represent that if you ain’t

thorough and not just on the mike but if your mind ain’t right as far as what

you are trying to bring. I went through a lot. I don’t like to talk about it

too much because I don’t like to give energy to it. I am very thankful to be

where I am right now to be still writing and recording and popping up on projects

because I have been through a lot. Never really having a manager, never really

having a team, never really, really having people believe in me not even 75

percent of what I believed in myself. But that’s why I don’t like to talk about

the bad stuff, how could I? I’m still here.

AHH: So what was your relationship with the Roots?

Flo: Yeah, I was down with them. They took me

on tour. I signed a contract for what they told me was a development contract,

a demo deal or whatever because MCA had interest in me. So the way it was said

to me was it was a done deal, they were interested, but this was just a preliminary

step to get material on me and that was the procedure. So I was contractually

into that and they took me on tour with them. Yeah I was kind of down with them

for a minute.

AHH: Do you have any labels interested now?

Flo: Labels, I mean I have people interested

that want to do some things. But I’ve been through the whole label-interested

thing back in 99′,00′, and 01′. Oh this label interested, that label interested,

and a lot of times when you out there like that things always come back to you.

I’ve been in with a couple of major labels and the sh*t didn’t pan out so I’m

just going to keep doing what I do, trying to bring what I’m about. That’s all

I can do. Labels should be interested if they know what’s best for them especially

the way hip-hop is going right now. The way they have tried to manufacture the

future of it, you can’t do that. It is going to grow and evolve to what it is

naturally supposed to be.

AHH: What do you think about females who use

sexuality to sell records?

Flo: Let me say this first. I was discovering

this sh*t when people where discovering it in me. When you eighteen, it is big

and powerful and spiritual and you growing with it. But that’s always been in

the forefront, oh as a female MC, as a female MC, like they don’t really want

to know who you are or what you are about, it’s like you are always defined

as a female MC. Emceeing isn’t really about being a male or a female. Now when

you talk about the politics behind it, gender does play a role. The way I look

at it, it is all animalistic. Like I’m a person out here who happens to be a

female but in the jungle, nobody gives a f*ck if you are a female form, you

can get f*cked up too. If you fall prey, you fall prey. If you get caught out

there, you get caught out there.

I don’t think it’s necessarily about being a

female or not when it comes down to lyrics. A lot of people from the gate want

to know, as a female rapper what do you think of Lil’ Kim and Foxy and I feel

like that is just part of the element. There are all types of beings out here.

As far as I am concerned, I come from all the same evolutionary processes as

any other male MC that wanted to bring it.

As a far as being a female, where politics really

plays a part is that a lot of people feel as though they can tell you what to

talk about, they could tell you what to say, or they can write your rhymes.

They feel like it really matters how you look and they get intimidated if you

rhyme better than them. That’s where the female thing comes in. But the thing

people fail to realize that this is about wit and intelligence, and men and

women equally possess that. If you speak to the reason why you in this, and

you know who you are and what you want to say and you have patience and faith

that your day is going to come, you’ll get it.

AHH: How often do you feel like you are tested

to stay true to yourself?

Flo: It is not that hard for me to stay true

to myself because I feel like it is my truth to rhyme about the things that

I rhyme about. I’ve always approached it as this is how I feel so this is what

I’m going to rhyme about. It was never a show-and-tell thing or a let me try

to appease you sort of thing, it was always just this is how I feel. It is natural,

it’s second nature, and habitual for me to say sh*t my way. You write my rhymes,

for what? If you can write the rhymes, then you be the MC, you say it. I’ve

had pressures as far as the structuring of what I say. I’ve had people tell

me that people don’t like aggressive women and people don’t like angry women.

I’ve been told America isn’t ready for an angry black woman, I’ve been told

all types of sh*t like that. But I am like you don’t even know who I am, I’m

not an angry black woman. I’m not angry. I’m a person who has something to say

with conviction and passion to say it. Everybody’s just scared. I thought that

when Lauryn Hill came out, that her success would help the vibe gravitate towards

that. Usually when they get a rapper that raps a certain way that sold so many

records, they will try to find another one like that. But they didn’t try to

find four more L-boogies. Why didn’t they jump on that? They jumped on so many

other styles. It’s crazy.

AHH: What can people expect from a Flo performance?

Flo: When I perform, I just zone out. I’m up

there in my stance, but I can’t really explain it, I just like black out and

become one with the words. You just got to see it.

AHH: How was it working with Jazzy Jeff on The Magnificent?

Flo: He’s cool as hell. I did the song for his

album and cut about four songs out of his studio that I absolutely love.

AHH: So what are your goals now? What do you

want to accomplish?

Flo: I’m just trying to bring what I’m on. I’m

trying to speak my experience and my story no matter what. And find voices within

myself that haven’t been tapped into. That is what the hip-hop thing has brought

me through, just all my experiences. I want to make my record that speaks to

the people and the youth. Put out a record and tour with it.

AHH: Anything else you want to discuss about

what your music means to you?

Flo: It means several things to me. There’s the

flow though that’s so important because a lot gets expressed in it. That’s what

I’m bringing to this–the flow. That’s my name. I mean everybody knows what

flow is but what is it really? And that’s the question I’m coming to answer.

Visit Flo Brown at www.flobrown.com.

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