Coachella Valley Rapper with International Flavor

By Esther Sanchez

I first met Roland Akinduro, AKA Row Low last summer at the “Flow Box house.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with Flow Box, they are a fantastic group of circus style performers who entertain at functions such as music festivals and charity events breathing fire, walking on stilts and various other feats of awesomeness. A friend and former roommate of several Flow Box members, Akinduro attended the backyard spectacle with his then pregnant wife and toddler son who was watching the FB crew perform for the intimate group of friends with adorably angelic awe. I was struck by the enthusiasm and tenderness he displayed while interacting with his boy. It was not until last November at the uber-rad, Synergy Music and Arts Festival in Coachella that I saw Row Low performing with his side-project, hip hop quartet, AMFM, that I had any idea what a fantastically talented performer he is.

Since AMFM’s kickass performance at Synergy Fest, I have learned that besides being a multitalented performer, (he plays multiple instruments and has been featured in major commercials and a feature film) Akinduro is a smart, insightful, spiritual dude who oozes kindness, creativity and soulful reflections that indicate wisdom beyond his years. Akinduro: “If passion is the father, music is the son, acting is his brother.”

A European transplant, Row Low was born in Vienna to an Austrian mother and a Nigerian father. As destiny would have it, at age 5 he and his mother emigrated to the high-desert where he spent the bulk of his adolescent years and graduated from Yucca Valley High School. Akinduro: “My grandparents had a home in Johnson Valley of all places and I clearly remember visiting the desert on vacation when I was 4. I attended Kindergarten in Austria and German was my first language. Even at that age I was very aware that this was a completely different culture and societal structure than I was accustomed to.”  Now, a dedicated husband and father of 2 sons, business owner, entrepreneur, musician, producer, rapper and actor, Akinduro is continuously striving for the quintessential, “American dream.”


I asked Row Low to talk about growing up as an intellectual, forward-thinking kid with a global mindset in a small, somewhat isolated desert town that, in those days wasn’t exactly known for its diversity or progressiveness. Akinduro: “I was a really oblivious kid……always in my own little world, constantly creating in my head. I never had a girlfriend or anything like that going on throughout my time in high school. I was an academic kid who read a lot of comic books and soaked in a lot of pop culture which was definitely a significant influence on me.”

It was during those awkward teen years among the Joshua Trees that Akinduro caught the performer’s bug and began honing his craft as a rapper. Akinduro: “Like most kids at the time, I watched a lot of MTV but never got into the pop-music that was typically popular with my age-group at the time.  Around age 13 or 14, on a sonic level I really got into artists that were pushing boundaries like Marilyn Manson and Korn. I remember reading somewhere that, because developmentally it is such a crucial period in life, the music you listen to around the ages of 12-14 the most influential music of your life. Those artists were definitely influential to me and my journey.”

Akinduro continues: “And Tupac! That cadence and flow that was completely unique at the time…..” At this point, Row Low, the passionate entertainer that he is, begins spontaneously spitting lyrics from, “Still Ballin,’’  erupting into a nearly spot-on Tupac impression that I find simultaneously amusing and impressive.

Row Low is a high-energy performance artist whose mental wheels are constantly turning and from the time we have spent together I would venture to say that he is the kind of guy who truly can do anything he sets his mind to and do it better than most; if not better, at the very least, differently. The innovative artist records and performs along with his buddies in AMFM as well as solo. Either way, it’s more than just his 6’3” frame and dashing looks that draw attention. Those qualities don’t count for much without lyrical prowess.

“Strippers on the pole but I’m in the office doin tech support

just need a few more circuits til I teleport.

I’ll refresh a holographic projection of an extinct species code correction

through a genome lithograph to populate a planetary ecosystem in a nanosecond

Might mention

RowLow’s from the future

Complexity, intelligence, creativity, diversity…

He will not be boxed in”

-Row Low

Check out Row Low’s music and find out about his performances…

(Photos by Ester Sanchez)