If you’re out in public and notice a pair of colorfully-clad Black girls just take off running while rapping about synonyms, Kanekalon, and cinnamon, don’t panic. That’s probably just Flyana Boss, the rising new rap duo currently taking over timelines with an endless supply of video clips promoting their ultra-viral June single, “You Wish.”
When I say “taking over,” I mean it. The group’s videos, in which they run toward the camera while rapping their cheeky lyrics, are bound to appear on nearly every social media platform’s endless scroll with enough swiping. And, given every platform has adopted some version of TikTok’s signature move, that’s a lot of engagement for the quirky duo. The places they’ve taken over include a grocery store, the Happiest Place on Earth, and even the headquarters of Google and TikTok.
Now, they’re facing down the bog standard accusations of being “industry plants” — they’ve been signed since 2019, but are only just now gaining traction despite what they call some “baby viral” moments. Obviously, it takes a while to catch on, and once you do, the haters are bound to come calling.
But what struck me about the duo — which consists of two best friends, Folayan Kunerede of Dallas (she’s the one with bleached eyebrows usually wearing elf ears) and Bobbi LaNea (swimmin’ in deals like Michael Phelps) from Detroit — is just how keyed-in they appear to be with not only the youth zeitgeist, but also the true spirit of old-school hip-hop.
During a Zoom interview with Flyana Boss, I mention how their creative incorporation of nursery rhymes harkens back to a simpler time, echoing the back-and-forth rhymes of groups like Run-DMC or Beastie Boys. They note in return that it’s all intentional. With the 50th anniversary of hip-hop coming up, their sudden glow-up appears to be very much right on time.
Throughout our interview, it’s clear that their friendship is no gimmick or label-forged connection. These two genuinely enjoy each other, bouncing off each other’s energy for a fun, kinetic conversation that covers everything from viral fame to anime. For a pair of self-declared “weird Black girls” who insist they’re introverts, they prove as captivating in conversation as their viral videos.
How do people react when you just take off running in these public places?
Folayan: So we’re in the mode, so we don’t really pay attention.
Bobbi: We’re laser vision.
Folayan: But we notice that people usually move out of our way. That’s one. Smile or…
Bobbi: And every now and then it’s like, “Stop running.”
Has anyone recognized you before you started running and been like, “It’s those girls, it’s those girls?”
Bobbi: Yes, absolutely.
Folayan: So every time we run, we at least get three people come up to us either before or after, during, whatever, just to say, “Oh my God, I love you guys.”
Bobbi: Or “Y’all about to run? Are y’all about to run?” And we’re like, “Yeah.”
Folayan: You’ll be like, “You want to be in the video?”
The thing that really caught my attention when I started seeing you guys over and over again was the look. I think that people are attracted to the look of the group, particularly the elf ears. You look like you escaped from Anime Expo and you’re trying to get away as hard as you can. What inspires the look behind you guys’ elf ears, bleached eyebrows?
Folayan: Yeah, exactly. I love anime.
Bobbi: She’s an anime queen.
Folayan: We also just love the beauty supply.
Bobbi: Beauty supply stores, seeing new packs of hair, seeing new accessories. So it’s just whatever we’re feeling at that time.
Folayan: But we’ve always decorated ourselves throughout our whole entire lives.
Bobbi: And it’s an important expression for both of us.
Folayan: Especially being from African descent, decorating yourself, it’s been a part of our culture for centuries. We just add colors in it and stuff.
Bobbi: We just modernize.
I actually asked this cousin of mine who I love dearly with all my heart, what questions she would ask you guys. Because she thinks you guys are the best. She wants to know what kind of nerdy stuff you guys are into, and if you are, what fictional world would you want to run through for “You Wish?”
Bobbi: That’s a good question. She is really more traditionally nerdy than I am. I nerd out over Motown documentaries and stuff like that.
Folayan: But she’s a pop history nerd.
Bobbi: I nerd out on music stats and facts.
Folayan: And how people developed their careers. And she can tell you stories about Marilyn Monroe.
Bobbi: Everyone. So that’s what I nerd out. But she is like a traditional… You have traditional nerd things like anime.
Folayan: Or video games. So I think I would want to run through, there’s a video game called League of Legends. So I would want to run through the League of Legends Rift, the world.
Bobbi: I would want to run through Oz, but The Wiz Oz.
After watching both Arcane and The Wiz, both of those are a “no” for me. Flyana Boss is such a cool name. I’m always a big fan of rap names that are puns of real people’s names. Are you allowed to reveal which of you came up with Flyana Boss, and what were some of the rejected names?
Folayan: So Bobbi came up with Flyana Boss. She had a dream, and she woke up and there’s this poster of Diana Ross in her room. And so she was like, “Flyana Boss.” But the other contenders were Double Dare.
Bobbi: Double D, because we’re both from D cities.
Folayan: Halle Berry.
Bobbi: Just Halle Berry. Right out, no pun.
That just would have been confusing!
Bobbi: Do you remember? I think I wrote down Flower Power or something like that too. Wow. I had this notebook when I was by myself writing out these names and seeing how they looked.
Folayan: You probably still have it.
Bobbi: I probably have it somewhere. But I woke up from this slumber after we were brainstorming all day, and then I was like, “Diana Ross. Flyana Boss.” And it just came to me. And I texted her right away. I was like, “What do you think of Flyana Boss?”
Folayan: I was like, “Love it.” She actually said Cryana Boss or Flyana Boss, because we’re emotional beings. But we were like, “Let’s go on the positive side and let’s go Flyana Boss.”
So while “You Wish” is the one that’s getting a lot of attention, I did go back and scan through the discography proper. There’s this one called “Miss Me” that I thought was really, really fun. Can you tell me a little bit more about that one?
Bobbi: We wrote it during Covid.
Folayan: My brother produced it alongside with our executive producer, Marky Style. And it’s just a silly fun song. I love Shrek. So there’s a part in Shrek where they’re like, “They’ll grind his bones to make your bread.”
Bobbi: No, there’s so many good lines in there.
Folayan: So we were just like, “Let’s go fairytale. Let’s go just bad bitch fairytale.”
Bobbi: This is one of the songs, this is our voice memo days. So she pulled the beat up that her brother sent, got on her phone, and rapped, “Fee fi fo fum.” And then she sent it to me. I’m like, “This shit is hard. I need to write another verse right now.” So then that’s how that went.
Folayan: And so this was our first little bubbly moment on social media.
Bobbi: We call it baby viral. That’s when we went baby viral.
It reminded me a lot of the olden days of hip-hop. So you guys probably think I’m old, but I remember when I thought Run-DMC was back in the day. And they used to just rap nursery rhyme stuff. There’s this wholesome back-to-basics approach that you guys are almost supplying.
Folayan: There’s a Run-DMC song, it’s like, “Peter Piper picked a pepper, but Run rapped rhymes…” We love studying the old stuff that’s also very quirky and cool.
Bobbi: And we like paying tribute to what hip-hop truly is. Also, we like making puns too, in references to all these fairytales. We love that because it’s something familiar to the ear.
That’s what I like to hear. I like it when there’s an exchange between the generations rather than, “You kids need to grow up,” and “Well, you old people need to let us live.”
Bobbi: We don’t feel that way about any. We love the old school. We love what people are doing now. I’m sure when we’re old, we’re going to love what the kids are doing. We’re not judgy like that. It’s expression. It’s music. Wow, it’s such a great opportunity to be able to create music in itself. So, anybody who does that, my hat goes off to you.
Folayan: And the hip-hop world is so eclectic and beautiful and silly and fun.
Bobbi: It’s not just one thing.
Folayan: It’s not just serious all the time. It’s a whole world. So we’re happy we can be even a little bit part of it.
So what makes y’all “weird Black girls?”
Folayan: We just feel like we have a lot of quirks. We don’t necessarily fit the archetype that’s being painted in mainstream media of what Black girls are or who Black girls are.
Bobbi: Exactly. Blackness in general is not a monolith at all. We come in all different shapes and sizes just like any other group. But it does seem like sometimes, especially for Black women, it’s an even narrower viewpoint that you get. So we want to represent everything outside of that narrow box.
Folayan: And there’s so many of us everywhere, and I think that’s why it’s taking off right now because there’s so many of us.
Bobbi: Which is what we wanted. We always knew there was an audience out there for us, even though we don’t do stripper rap or gangster rap. We knew there was an audience out there. So every time we see people make a video —
Folayan: It’s so cool.
Bobbi: It’s so exciting because they look like us. They’re weird like us.