A beginner's guide to South African hip-hop artist Flvme's best songs.
Recently when Flvme and Emtee clashed on Twitter, the result of a beef that's been ongoing since circa 2016, the most prevalent question by most of Emtee's fans was, "Who's Flvme?"
One of the key figures of the new wave, Flvme has built a following and forged a path as one of the country's most talented and productive artists. His gem of a debut album CandyMan, released in 2019, earned him two nods at the South African Hip Hop Awards for Best Male and Best Newcomer.
With six official projects and two collaborative projects under his belt, all released in the last three years, Flvme's catalogue has enough gems to warrant a "Best 20 Songs By" listicle.
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Immortalised by his then-close friend A-Reece ("Flvme in the car, he a lot/ K1 already on lock") on 2017's "Meanwhile in Honeydew", the former member of The Wrecking Crew has since grown and become a titan of some sort in the skreets. His list of collaborators alone is enough for a naysayer to pay attention: Da L.E.S, AKA, A-Reece, Nasty C, Blxckie, Zoocci Coke Dope and a lot more.
Starting out, Flvme was hugely criticised for his style being similar to Travis Scott's (naming himself
La Flvme also didn't help either).
The artist from Kathlehong is a quintessential representation of modern South African hip-hop—a heavy US influence, a huge cult following and a high output of releases.
Listen in no particular order, we bring you the 20 best Flvme songs.
“Late Nights” (featuring KashCPT)
Easily the best song from Flvme's debut album CandyMan, "Late Nigths" boasts a strong performance from KashCPT. Flvme and his guest are met halfway by string-laden production from Bakergotthekeys to make a delightful song about using drugs to escape the harshness of life.
Flvme x Zoocci Coke Dope “Company”
"Company" is one of the strongest songs from a strong release, Do Not Disturb, Flvme and Zoocci Coke Dope's collaborative EP. "Company" is dominated by Flvme (Zoocci only contributes a verse) who plays with different delivery styles and shines throughout the song.
“Don’t Bother” (featuring Ayanda Jiya and Ecco)
Roping in R&B singer Ayanda Jiya and frequent collaborator Ecco, Flvme and his guests deliver a sheeny R&B cut which appears on the brilliant CandyMan. Vinyl creaks create the perfect mood alongside tinkling pads and thick bass, the work of Elizée, one of the country's leading R&B producers.
“Trees” (featuring Zoocci Coke Dope and Frank Casino)
Nothing much, just a display of proficient raps over whiny pads. A strong appearance from Zoocci Coke Dope whose verse, if we are keeping it 💯, deserves a place in the annals of history.
“Pray 4 Us (Intro)”
Opening one of Flvme's best projects, 2017's Clouds, is the emotive "Pray 4 Us (Intro)". Flvme says a lot in just one verse; he opens up to his mother about his reasons for quitting school to become an artist. It gets as personal as, "Even got a girl pregnant, mama/ Hope the baby don't meet a nigga like me if she a girl, mama/ Shit becoming too real mama." Flvme hardly ever opens up in his songs, but when he does, it's always notable.
“Whole New Lane” (featuring A-Reece. Ecco, Louw & Enkei)
"Whole New Lane" is five minutes of five different individuals just being themselves backed by a cloudy instrumental (one of Enkei's finest creations). From melodic flows to hard raps, the beat gets different interpretations as per posse cut fashion. A song that was most likely recorded for A-Reece's From Me To You and Only You or around the same time, "Whole New Lane" sees Reece throw a jab at the SAHHAs for failing to recognise him as he would have loved.
“Serenade” (featuring Ecco)
The lead single to the EP Germander is one of many instances where Flvme's vocal capabilities and range are in full display. Yet another sexually charged gem from Flvme and Ecco, further documenting the two artists' chemistry and fondness of each other. Here, this display happens over soulful production by Flvme himself that creates a mood that's as mysterious as it is colourful.
“Between Me & You” (featuring Rowlene)
Alongside "SMA" by Nasty C and "Pride" by A-Reece, Rowlene's duet with Flvme is one of her best. Flvme is in his R&B bag on "Between Me & You", and he and Rowlene take turns in the song that's a conversation between two lovers whose relationship is going nowhere slowly. With a beat that doesn't really get to drop, the only form of rhythm on "Between Me and You" is a finger snap—both artists' voices are expansive enough to almost double as instruments.
“Money Today” (featuring A-Reece)
The song's slight resemblance to Travis Scott's "pick up the phone", doesn't outweigh Flvme and A-Reece's performances and the special era the song captured; when the now-defunct The Wrecking Crew still tight-knit and Reece and Flvme were churning out collaborations frequently.
“Home Run” (featuring Ecco)
The message on "Home Run" is straight forward: "Get it and send it home" as Flvme and Ecco advocate for the prioritization of one's family. The song's intimate music video was filmed at Flvme's house and shows his mother and little brother. In a move that's to show the world they are blood brothers, in the video when Flvme is shot dead, Ecco takes care of his friend's family while Flvme's presence remains in spiritual form. The visuals are undoubtably one of Clout Cassette's finest music videos.
“Bad Chritians” (featuring Ecco)
An explicit celebration of an oxymoronic woman who's both bad and a Christian (an unusual combination? 🤔) "Bad Chritians" is built from the sensual combination of a flamenco strings loop and a groaning bassline. Yet another superb collaboration between Flvme and Ecco.
“Drowning” (featuring LaFreshman and 3Two1)
"Drowning" combines the high register vocals of LaFreshman and 3Two1 as they, alongside Flvme, individually look back at days of drought in their lives. It was tough, but the main lesson is "If you ain't sacrificing, you get nothing."
“Ride For You” (featuring The Big Hash)
In another notable R&B moment on CandyMan, Flvme invited like-minded singer/rapper The big Hash to spaz over production on which Mash Beatz, Flvme, Micheal, 808x and Elohim collaborated. Different synths and pads take turns to flash on and off as both artists take turns to try to recoup an ex's interest.
“Buddy” (featuring Nasty C and Zoocci Coke Dope)
A Nasty C and Flvme collaboration was long overdue. When it camenin 2020 in Flvme's D.O.A (Dead or Alive), it also brought with it another one of Zocci Coke Dope's show-stealing verses. "Buddy" is laidback and minimal—a vibe fitting of a collaboration by three top dawgs of South African hip-hop.
Flvme and Die Mondez “Red Outro”
The closing song to Flvme and Die Mondez's collaborative project RedLight District is also the project's best moments. It makes sense why it was the lead single. Over a mushy puddle of pads, the two make it clear they are in their element, lost in the music, head in the clouds, with deft raps and just a great vibe overall.
Flvme had an epiphany and turned it to a song: "Gave this hoes a chance, but these bitches never change," he sings on one of Clouds' strongest cuts. "The Message" showcases both Flvme's songwriting and production, both of which are polished.
“Dead Or Alive Intro”
"Sitting at the top and I ain't even hit my prime/ Bitch, dead or alive I'ma go and get what's mine," Flvme croons on the hook for the opening song to his DOA project released towards the end of 2020. That statement complements Lil Wayne's words which are sampled for the song's intro. "Dead or Alive Intro" is another well-crafted song by Flvme, an inviting album opener that was even treated to a music video.
Flvme x Die Mondez “Married to the Money”
Another standout from RedLight District, "Married to the Money" is unassuming but is proof that the best songs aren't always those with complicated music and concepts. In the song, Flvme delivers the better verse which is knotted in the right places and is one of many examples of his brilliance.
Flvme x Zoocci Coke Dope “Blow My Mind”
Do Not Disturb is a near perfect project, and any of its song could have made this list and it would make sense. On "Blow My Mind", both Zoocci and Flvme's verses are works of art—two artists who descend from the same inspiration (Travis Scott) show individuality in this earworm.
One of the country's most prolific modern producers, BLFR contributed to the definitive CandyMan. His trademark wobbly pads dominate a catchy drum pattern as Flvme croons explicitly about sex—the running theme of the album. It's how Flvme exhibits control of his voice as he switches between low and high notes with ease. One of the few songs Flvme does solo on the album, and it proves that this avid collaborator can stand on his own just fine.