Moneybagg Yo is making sure his critics can’t put his name and the word ‘slump’ next to each other as he has his sights set on having another big year.
His latest studio album Time Served recently debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, he’s expanding his BreadGang clothing line, his long-delayed film 24 Hours is coming and he has another album locked and loaded before this new year is even over.
“I’m really plotting,” he tells HipHopDX while sitting deep in thought in the backseat of his Mercedes-Benz.
Plotting and keeping busy is nothing new to Moneybagg Yo. The 28-year-old rapper has kept a relentless pace since he made his 2012 debut with a solid run through the mixtape circuit. His music found its way outside of his hometown of Memphis and across the country, with fans loving the aggressive, seemingly heartless persona he displayed on wax.
Yo Gotti took notice of the rising star and signed him to his Collective Music Group imprint in 2016. Things picked up a year later when the third installment of his Federal mixtape series, Federal 3X, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. Since then, he’s lingered around the Top 15 with each release that followed.
The success Moneybagg found was not enough and he was determined to reach new heights. The “U Played” mastermind took his career to another level in 2019 when his second studio album 43va Heartless debuted at No. 4 —- his highest-charting album before his latest effort cracked the Top 3.
The success of 43va Heartless led Moneybagg to a management deal with JAY-Z’s Roc Nation and gave him a fresh outlook on his clothing and film endeavors.
“I’m trying to take it to a whole other level,” Moneybagg hints about his upcoming year. “I want to go past the moon with it. It’s on.”
DX caught up with Moneybagg during a press run in New York City to talk about his latest album Time Served, staying fresh with each music project, the first thing he’s going to tell Hov and why the comments about his dating life on social media bug him.
HipHopDX: What have you been doing in the time up to this release?
Moneybagg Yo: I’ve just been going hard in the studio. Shooting a lot of videos. I’m working on another project that I plan on dropping towards the summertime. I’m trying to see what’s going on.
HipHopDX: You’ve been chipping away since your debut and you had quite the year in 2019. Do you feel you’re hitting your stride?
Moneybagg: Yeah, but I most definitely want to go harder than I went last year. I want to do everything that I was doing last year and do it better this year. I plan on transitioning to different lanes and different avenues like the clothing thing I’m trying to do. I’m really trying to expand overall.
HipHopDX: You’ve released multiple projects every year since 2014. How do you stay fresh putting out so much music?
Moneybagg: I stay fresh by putting myself in different elements and environments. It all depends on what approach I’m trying to go with on that album. With Time Served, I was stationed in Atlanta and Memphis. A lot of the time when I want to get gutter, the type of songs that I make, I go back and go to Atlanta or Memphis and go sit around, go to the hood, chill, vibe or go to my favorite spot to eat where I’m from. If I’m trying to go to a whole other space I’ll go to Miami or L.A. for those vibes. That’s how I do it.
HipHopDX: Is there any fear or doubt that something won’t stick because you release so much music?
Moneybagg: Nah, I feel like it’s never enough music. I’m pretty sure in the next four to six weeks they’re going to be begging for another project. It’s like today they’re eating the music up so fast and it puts us on a pressure a little bit because they’re like ‘where you at, where you at? So and so dropped it’s time for you to come back.’ They don’t want to hear anyone else but you. I also just like seeing my fans happy though.
HipHopDX: How did the Roc Nation deal happen?
Moneybagg: It was just a blessing. Yo Gotti kind of put the play together and it’s been planned for a minute. But I look at it like it’s time served like it’s just perfect timing. This is a dream and this is the stuff that people like want to do every day. This is what they dream of every day. I’m just excited to be with it and I’m excited to see the new levels I’m going to reach with Roc Nation.
HipHopDX: What’s the first thing you’re going to tell Jay?
Moneybagg: I don’t know but just have him put me down [laughs]. Just give me the knowledge that I need to stay focused and continue to grow. A lot of people just be geeked up over all this crazy shit about him. I just want to be guided bro that’s all I ask. Put me in the right position and I’m with that.
HipHopDX: How did you approach Time Served?
Moneybagg: I read a lot of my tweets and a lot of the comments that said they wanted the old Moneybagg and the old vibes that I used to give them. So, I kind of went back and studied my old projects. I closed my eyes and put myself in those elements and moods that I was in when I was making those projects. I just stuck with it. Like I said I was in Atlanta and Memphis, and it’s gutter around there so it was easy.
HipHopDX: What’s the story behind the album cover?
Moneybagg: I was thinking outside the box like what would people think or how would we get it hearing the title Time Served. Let’s do something with a whole lot of watches like everything we got in the jewelry box. We added the black roses on there to be artistic. Shoutout to Gotti for that because he stood on it. I was trying to go another route but he was like no I’m a superstar and I should be artistic with this one.
HipHopDX: What did you do differently here than on 43va Heartless?
Moneybagg: It was really the different situations that I was going through. I was going through a lot making this project. A lot of stuff hit the blogs like crazy. I was kind of feeding off that energy and it was pissing me off. I let it all out in the music.
HipHopDX: You’re opening up on this album. Why is that?
Moneybagg: I don’t want to give people all of me. You can’t do that but there are places that I haven’t gone or taken my fans before. People were asking for those heartless types of vibes so it’s like I want to give you guys those vibes but I want to let you know what’s going on today. I want you to hear what you haven’t heard from Moneybagg yet. I’m just opening up a little bit.
HipHopDX: There’s “Thug Cry,” “Real Luv” and “Thinking Out Loud.” Was it difficult for you to be transparent?
Moneybagg: I feel like people accept you and love you even more if you show that personal side. That’s something I’m learning is trying to open up and show my personality. I’m actually a good person but the image can come off a little harsh sometimes. In the same token bro, you get this and you get this. People have two or three sides to them anyway, that’s just how it goes. I’m not tripping over showing my personal side. We’re all human and real people. We bleed as all other people bleed and we go through the same problems. It’s just that we have the light on us.
HipHopDX: Between “Thinking Out Loud” and “Thug Cry,” which one was more difficult for you in terms of opening up?
Moneybagg: It had to be “Thug Cry.” You could hear the pain in my voice on that one. I really wanted to say a lot more but I held back on it. Some of that stuff wasn’t for the record.
HipHopDX: How’d “Federal Fed” come together with Future?
Moneybagg: That’s a crazy track but what’s even crazier about it bro is that the chorus and the beat got to be at least two or three years old [laughs]. To be honest, it had to be from like 2017. People were talking about they wanted that old vibe and I got that so let me break that one out. Then I was in the studio with Future and we did like three or four songs and “Federal Fed” was one of them and it ended up on the tape.
HipHopDX: People talk about how much of a machine Future is in the studio. Based on your experience with him, is he really like that?
Moneybagg: He’s a real machine like I never seen anything like it. It’s almost unreal how he does it so fast and everything is good. It motivated me because I’m one of those artists that go in there and lock in crazy. It’s so hard for me to get out of the studio you damn near have to drag or beg me to get out of there. Even if I have shows in different cities or when I’m on the road if there’s a studio in the city I’m there.
HipHopDX: You linked up with your labelmate Blac Youngsta on “1,2,3.” What was that like?
Moneybagg: Every time we get together it’s a movie. We can go back to “Gang Gang” and even farther than that when we were in a group together. There’s chemistry there because we know each other so it works.
HipHopDX: Which feature really had you in your bag?
Moneybagg: I don’t go into the studio using that mentality. I always go in there thinking I’m going to kill everything. I don’t care what the next person is doing, I’m going to do me. But like one of those vibes that I had to get out of my element and go somewhere else was the song with Summer Walker. I had to go to another place with that one. It’s for the ladies. I had to keep that on there because women are my biggest supporters. So I had to step into that and Summer Walker got them in a headlock on her end.
HipHopDX: Is there any tweaks you would have made?
Moneybagg: No, I feel like I’m 1,000 percent satisfied with this project. The fans seem satisfied with it, it’s doing numbers and charting. It’s on, this is Time Served.
HipHopDX: You’ve been in the news lately for your dating life. How do you deal with all that? Does it bug you?
Moneybagg: It does bug me sometimes because of how they put it sometimes like it’s not even real. It’s crazy what people would even believe that certain stuff is being said. But to sum everything up bro I’m happy and I’m with who I’m with. I’m happy with how things are going right you know what I’m saying? It’s all love.
HipHopDX: Your last relationship was highly publicized. How is it different this time?
Moneybagg: I can keep it out of the public eye to a certain extent because at the end of the day they’re still on my trails and they’re still going to peek into this and post that. It’s like really now we can’t even hide it. We just have to be strategic with how we move and how we do things. I feel like the internet is poison towards relationships. I feel like it can throw the relationship off but we’re staying focused.
HipHopDX: With you two having to be so calculating with how you move in public now, does that affect the relationship on an emotional level?
Moneybagg: I agree we have to be more calculating, but I feel like with someone like Ari like right now we’re so competitive and we’re right there with each other. There’s nothing no one can say we’re locked in. You can say what you want to say. We hear you but we’re not listening [laughs].
HipHopDX: Is there a CMG compilation on the way?
Moneybagg: You guys can be looking for that in the near future.
HipHopDX: What’s up with the 24 Hours film?
Moneybagg: We’re still putting the finishing touches on it. It should be coming in March.