K.Flay- What If It Is EP
Chicago’s rising hip hop star, K.Flay. Unmissable. Read my review for Pop ‘stache below.
“Kinda bummed all my fun shit broke/My heart, my spirit, my art, my toes.” – K. Flay, “Hail Mary”
Female rappers are only recently storming the hip hop stage in a grimy wave of post-’90s freestyle flow. The feisty confidence of Nicki Minaj, Jean Grae, and Azealia Banks made way for the recognition of underground acts such as Invincible, Gavlyn, and Rapsody. Ladies are stepping up their lyrical game and production collaborations, revealing a doubly enticing lineup of duel gender verses and unified charisma.
What If It Is marks the third EP for K.Flay, but her first under RCA label and mass visibility. What If demonstrates just how good of a rapper the 28-year-old Stanford grad is, to an audience finally large enough to affect appropriate media attention. K.Flay, born Kristine Flaherty, began writing songs on a whim while in college and shortly after started creating beats and backdrops. What If It Is contains entertaining insight into the headspace of K.Flay, mixing the expression of deeper thoughts with fun and on-point wordplay.
The EP’s productions are full of pop and grime and optimum templates for K.Flay’s animated rapping style—she flows fast and with intonations not unlike the sassy attitudes of Lady Sovereign and Angel Haze.
“Rawks” opens the EP with a grimy glitch beat and K.Flay’s deceptively sweet overlay on her sassy lyrical declarations. It’s a track circling with non-thematic lines, amounting in individual assertions rather than one cumulative message. It’s a K.Flay style sampler with unstoppable energy, enthralling from the first verse: “Whiskey tipsy keep on slipping don’t know which end of the bed I’m on/Calories, Valeries in malls smoking on Cali weed/How can you complain when you’ve made up all your realities?”
Growing up on Chicago’s affluent Northside, her upfront no-cred suburbanite status is humorously scattered throughout. On “Rawks,” she raps, “Got no direction someone summon Nora Ephron/Beer pong’s how I learned the capital of Lebanon.”
On “So What,” K.Flay explains her fear of commitment and the reasons for her maintenance of casual relationships: “So I’m wallowing all alone following monotone/Voices that keep hollering inside my fucking collar bone/Nobody catching me, living like I’m 17/Pay no mind I’ll just be masterminding my own tragedies.” Her rhymes are scrupulous and her themes generally relatable, echoing the unswerving effects of watching your parents split up at a young age.
Danny Brown’s guest verse on “Hail Mary” adds to K.Flay’s party persona, sardonically pleading for forgiveness for their sacrilegious raging jaunts. It’s a shallow song, an “I don’t give a fuck” right of passage for rappers seeking even the most basic cred from their industry peers. Her sweet whispers juxtapose the lyrics, “It was sweet of you to take me out to brunch/But now my jeans are on your ottoman and I’m about to run.”
“The Cops” is a somberly sung balled about K.Flay’s unreciprocated love, a writing process she later noted as a hugely therapeutic part of moving on from a destructive situation. It concludes the EP with one giant chorus, a consistent element that will help to push K.Flay’s career to radio stations and festival stage headlining slots with eventual the release of her first full-length album.
She’s not just a passing talent; her intelligent sass and fighting words flow with pronounced fluctuations, promoted by beats that sound like hip hop and indie rock fused together with K.Flay’s grungy mental veracity. Affluent truths look good on this self-proclaimed Suburban Rap Queen.