It was the third day of Rolling Stone’s Future of Music showcase at South by Southwest, in Austin, and Nigerian artist Pheelz had just cleared the Moody Theater stage. A crowd of about six hundred attendees chatted and danced to the music of Dallas DJ OGK as they waited for the next act. Under the stage’s blue lights, I spotted a few heads of colorful hair and a pointy ear or two in the crowd. Flyana Boss’s people are here, I thought.

Since late February, hip-hop duo Flyana Boss has been on the road for their first-ever headlining tour. But even though SXSW sets weren’t part of their official Bosstanical Garden Tour duties, they made time to swing by Austin for two festival shows. The duo climbed the stage to crowd cheers, rocking graphic tees—Bobbi in a black Sade shirt and Folayan repping the anime Attack on Titan—and loose, baggy pants. As they lovingly introduced each other to the audience (“This is my best friend in the whole, whole galaxy,” Bobbi said), I was reminded of how they’d described the goal of their music to me the previous day.

“We’re just bringing it back to older hip-hop, where they were all about kinship and having fun,” Folayan said.

“Yeah,” Bobbi added. “Creating with your friends.”

On the SXSW stage, they jumped straight into a 2023 single, “UFHO” (“Unidentified fly-ass hoe / If my girls can’t come / Then I won’t go”) and capped off an energetic but quick dozen-song set with a performance of their hit “You Wish” and a take on the “Mamma Mia” portion of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” When the last beat died down, Bobbi and Folayan met in the middle of the stage and embraced. From my place up in the balcony, I could feel the love.

If you somehow missed Flyana Boss running across your social media feeds last year, there’s still time to catch up. Before they were dynamic duo Flyana Boss, Bobbi and Folayan—no last names—were two women who grew up in Detroit and Dallas, respectively. The two have been making music together since 2019, after they met as students at Musicians Institute, in Los Angeles. But it wasn’t until 2023 that a viral TikTok landed them more-mainstream acclaim.

After years of toiling away with daily videos posted to the app, Bobbi and Folayan recorded a simple video in which they run down a residential street to their song “You Wish.” The two smartly created their own trend: they ran in other places, from a train to a Costco, to replicate the video. The TikToks started picking up speed, if you will, especially when the duo used clips from the third verse of the song. You can’t hear the lyrics “Hello Christ? I’m ’bout to sin again” and not pay attention to what comes next. Soon they were responding to requests from fans and brands and running through Disneyland, fast-food joints, and even the TikTok office. Their running videos were everywhere, getting reposted on X and Instagram and catching the attention of other musicians and celebrities such as Lupita Nyong’o and Missy Elliott, the latter of whom joined them and Georgia rapper Kaliii on the “You Wish” remix. Janelle Monáe invited the duo on her Age of Pleasure tour. The attention worked: in November, Flyana Boss announced the Bosstanical Garden Tour, spanning eighteen cities.

The tour is a natural expansion of the duo’s love for gardening and their brand. Bobbi and Folayan proudly call themselves “weird Black girls,” an identity that is defined more by self-assurance and confidence than by any specific aesthetic. “We’re not like, ‘How can we be more weird,’ ” Bobbi said. “We just are. We’re a little awkward; we like the little quirky stuff. We’re just being ourselves. Whatever we think is cool or interesting to us, we’re going to do that.”

Currently, that means embracing their interest in fairycore, as Folayan calls it. Fans know her for the elf ears she wears constantly, and the two don wings, ethereal makeup, and an endless array of colorful hairstyles. Their tour looks are alternating green, pink, and purple outfits that look like moss budding with flowers. “I feel like reality can be very boring,” Folayan said. “We both like to add things to our garb to make it more exciting to live. And we love all things mystical.”

When I met up with the duo before their SXSW shows, the humor and confidence in their songs translated easily in person, and our conversation was sprinkled with the kind of laughter built from years of inside jokes. It was hard to believe that the women before me were ever shy or had doubts about their music, but that was the case in the early days.

“I think Folayan’s super dope. I always thought that, ever since I met her,” Bobbi said, turning to look Folayan in the eye as she spoke. “I just thought she was so cool and talented, and if she believed in me enough to be in a partnership with me, I thought, ‘Oh, I must be on to something.’ ”

When they met as students, Bobbi and Folayan were each making music separately. Bobbi said her music sounded a bit like what they make as Flyana Boss, a blend of hip-hop and pop. Folayan was “rapping over J Dilla beats,” making music that fit the boom bap subgenre, which is usually defined by heavy bass and snare drum beats.

In 2019 they formed Flyana Boss (rhymes with Diana Ross) and released their first song on Spotify, “Bossi.” The song is a great introduction to the duo, with lyrics such as “Last time I lost was my virginity” that highlight their wordplay, humor, and unapologetic sex positivity. It even features sound bites from Folayan’s mother, Dallas natural hair activist Isis Brantley. Since then, the duo has released two EPs and around two dozen singles, experimenting with hip-hop and pop beats and their flow.

As soon as they had a few songs under their belt, Flyana Boss began accepting every opportunity to perform around Los Angeles. They performed in showcases, at Wrestlemania, at the storied eclectic music night Bananas. They performed no matter where: “On a rooftop with no mic. In an auditorium with one mic,” Folayan said.

Afraid to lose all that momentum, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the duo turned to social media, particularly TikTok, to get their music in front of as many people as possible. “It was a slow progression,” Folayan said. “We were posting every day for two years.” At first they tried to follow viral dance and music trends, but through trial and error, they started to hit their stride. But posting on social media wasn’t really a process Bobbi enjoyed.

“Every year [Bobbi] would be like, ‘Girl, I’m done,’ ” Folayan said, laughing.

“Yeah, but it wasn’t the work aspect,” Bobbi clarified. “It was more like, ‘I’m tired of dreaming. When is it gonna happen?’ ”

The duo has gone from posting into the abyss to enjoying such success that trolls can’t seem to believe it. The Bosstanical Garden Tour is a response to one of the weirder critiques they started to get as they garnered more attention: strangers who hadn’t heard of Flyana Boss before and suddenly couldn’t open an app without hearing Folayan calling out to Christ accused them of being industry plants. “If y’all think we’re industry plants then come to our bosstanical garden and watch us grow,” Folayan said.

The shows have brought them back to their hometowns for “invigorating” performances in front of family members and friends who’ve come to support them. During their performance in Dallas, Folayan’s hometown, they brought up dancers from her old school, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, to perform with them during “You Wish.”

The tour is in its home stretch, but it’s still early in 2024. That’s plenty of time for Flyana Boss to work on the rest of their goals for the year: landing on the Billboard top-ten list and making it onto “terrestrial” radio and television to reach a wider, older audience. “Because that’s when you know you made it,” Bobbi said. “When my dad knows who you are, then you made it. And he only knows a few artists, so we got a long way to go.”