There’s a new wave coming out of Alabama these days though led by a group of up-and-coming talent that’s shining a new light on to the impoverished state. Modern artists like Chika, OMB Peezy and NoCap have been on a roll, while past buzz magnets such as Yelawolf and Rich Boy were able to hang plaques on the wall.
Flo Milli, hailing from Mobile, Alabama, has been heating up since dropping her breakout single “Beef FloMix” in 2019. In over a year, the 20-year-old has been putting people on notice with her take-no-shit attitude and assertive bars fit for the new generation of Hip Hop listeners.
Flo has always been surrounded by music thanks to her mother playing artists like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild and more when she was a child. As Flo got older, she discovered a passion for Hip Hop through her big sister, who played rap songs off her cell phone whenever the two hung out with each other. Each song intrigued Flo and made her want to explore Hip Hop even more, especially when she watched BET’s 106 & Park weekly music video countdown show.
By the time she was 11, Flo had already begun writing rhymes and released her first song “No Hook” in 2015 when she was only 16-years-old. A handful of singles followed, but Flo struck gold with her reworking of Playboi Carti and Ethereal’s “Beef” record in 2019, which she called “Beef FloMix.” Flo’s version was an instant hit as it became the soundtrack to many TikTok users’ dance videos and peaked at No. 2 on the Spotify US Viral 50.
The follow-up track “In The Party” helped Flo become a star on TikTok. Her songs have been featured in over half a million videos, and in total, the young rapper has already amassed 100 million streams across the globe. Her success on the platform even earned her a record deal with RCA Records and Sony Music in July.
Flo understands that blowing up virally isn’t the only thing she needs to do. Especially with a pandemic going on, she knows there’s more work to do and she’s fully prepared for what’s to come.
“I’ve been locking in and making sure every day I’m reinventing myself constantly,” she tells HipHopDX via a Zoom call. “I really took this time to really use it to my advantage, because a lot of people looked at it from a negative standpoint, but I looked at it as an opportunity to grow.”
“Although it’s a hit to everybody’s bank account, for me, it was just an opportunity to really learn myself and trial and error, because I look at failure as another opportunity to learn,” she continued. “I tend to myself, and I follow my goals. I do what I need to do and I’m not really concerned about other people and their opinions.”
Flo is on pace to become a massive star in this industry. Her social media following is huge and she’s already gotten co-signs from SZA, Cardi B and even Halle Berry, just to name a few. Her debut mixtape Ho, Why Is You Here? has been adding on to Flo’s growing buzz as fans all over social media have been talking about it.
As Flo puts it, her debut project is a proper introduction into her world that’s filled with sass, attitude, and boss-like vibes. In a game that’s dominated by males, Flo Milli is shaking things up with her rise in Hip Hop. HipHopDX spoke to Flo Milli about her come up, soul music’s influence on her, Nicki Minaj being an inspiration, dealing with trolls, her debut mixtape and more.
HipHopDX: With you mentioning you’re going through a lot of growth right now, what are some of the things that you’re realizing or learning about yourself throughout this time off?
Flo Milli: I definitely want to touch on that in a life standpoint, because it hasn’t just been the music. It’s really been me learning about myself as a person, not letting everybody in, not trusting people so soon, and also knowing that I can’t move the same way I used to move when I was Tamia. I’m still Tamia, but it’s like now that there’s fame attached to it, I have to be smarter with the things I do, the places I go.
So I’ve learned all that, and I’ve been in situations, too, where I had to wake me up to learn. So that’s another thing I learned. I would say on the music, too, I’ve learned that I’m very versatile. Being in the studio has gave me an opportunity to really test out things with my voice and just the things that I’m just learning as an artist.
HipHopDX: Speaking of your versatility, I read that soul music was all you heard growing up. What impact does it have on you?
Flo Milli: Well, with me having such an, I wouldn’t say aggressive demeanor, but with me, my taste in music is very different. So growing up, I was kind of forced to listen to that music. My mama used to play it all the time. That’s how I got put on to Anthony Hamilton and all those older artists. With me, it’s really just another genre, because me, I love music so much. So it’s different types of music that I really enjoy, and soul just happened to be one of them, because it was always there. When I was in the backseat, Jill Scott was on repeat, literally. If she played today, I could probably still sing word for word.
— FLO MILLI (@_FloMilli) July 23, 2020
HipHopDX: There’s a video on Twitter where you’re previewing a track that you’re singing on.
Can we expect you to do more of that on the soul side because you have a history with it?
Flo Milli: Definitely. That was what I meant by learning about myself as an artist and figuring out things that I could do. I kind of learned that I can sing just a little bit of soul. I’m going to start experimenting with that more and hopefully get into that genre. I don’t want to just be subject to one thing. I want to be a well-rounded artist.
HipHopDX: 106 & Park played a huge role in you discovering Hip Hop. One artist that really drew you in was Nicki Minaj. What did seeing her television mean to you?
Flo Milli: I swear I can still rap “Itty Bitty Piggy” to this day, for real. But when I was in the fifth grade, I came in the house one day and I’ll never forget, the tv came on and she was just rapping. She was going in, and I was very fascinated. I was like, “I want to do that one day.” Literally ever since that day, I’ve just been writing every day. Not every day, of course, but I just got into it. That’s when I started getting passionate about it, seeing her, because she really was the only rapper that I could say I’d know in my era.
HipHopDX: Despite how people feel about Nicki now she was really getting everyone’s attention when she first arrived. Being a woman MC and a black woman, personally, what made you look up to Nicki?
Flo Milli: The fact that it just looked so fun. She looked like she was having the best time of her life, and it was just like I always knew, growing up, like I didn’t want to be a doctor. I didn’t want to be nothing like that, like a lawyer or anything. That didn’t interest me and I just wanted to have fun. I was like, “What is it that I can do to where I never have to work a day in my life, I can just have fun?” When I saw Nicki and saw what she was doing, I kind of grew a love for it, because I always wanted to do stuff like be an actor or be a model. I just knew I wanted to be in the entertainment business. So it was really just her having fun and the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude I loved.
HipHopDX: With you coming from Alabama, not a lot of people know about rap in that area, and you’re one of the first women to really come out of here. What does that mean to you?
Flo Milli: Oh my God. I talk about that all the time. Well, I don’t talk about it publicly, but I think about it all the time, and it’s honestly overwhelming to even think about, because that’s history, if you really want to be honest. Me being the first female to come out of my city and really blow, be signed to a label, just experience this life, it definitely makes me feel good. It makes me feel just accomplished. Even though this is just the beginning, I just feel so accomplished by that one thing right there. I can definitely agree that Alabama does not have a big music scene, but it is a lot of dope artists coming out of Alabama now.
HipHopDX: How would you describe your style of music in the best way possible?
Flo Milli: I would describe it as playful and prissy. A lot of people say that I have pretty bitch music. That’s what they say on Twitter. So I guess I would say that, and it’s very raunchy at times, but I keep it classy as possible. So I would say very confident, really.
HipHopDX: With you saying people say you have pretty bitch music, there’s another artist who calls her music that and she goes by the name of Saweetie. Do you have any concerns or do you care that the fans are comparing you to that or labeling you with that title that someone else has?
Flo Milli: I go by the analogy of I am who you say I am. So whatever I am in your mind, that’s what I am. I’m not going to persuade you. I’m not going to change it. I’m not going to label myself as this, this, and that. If somebody feels a certain way about me, that’s how they feel. That’s their problem. I feel a certain way about myself, and I explained what I feel my music is. So that’s what it is.
HipHopDX: With you being only 20-years-old and blowing up the way that you have, life has to be different for you now. What’s something that you’re most worried about now as a rapper that you wouldn’t be if you were a regular young adult?
Flo Milli: I don’t want to speak on negativity, but I would say just trolls. Once you reach a certain level in life, people are going to try you. But I guess that would be the only thing I’m concerned about, or in this generation, a lot of people spew out hate, and you’ve just got to be very cautious about what you do and how you move. So I won’t say I’m necessarily worried about that, but if I had any concerns, that would be it.
HipHopDX: What was your mindset going in this debut mixtape Ho, Why Is You Here?
Flo Milli: My mindset was like I’m very extravagant when it comes to people outside, looking in. So it’s like I’m always trying to catch the eye or catch the ear. If you ever pay attention, when I rap, even with “In The Party,” the first line, “I want to catch your attention.” So even with the tape, I wanted to catch people’s attention. So that’s how I think, like, “What is something that I could do or say that’s going to make people be like, ‘Oh shit. Who is that? Who’s this bitch?'” So that’s really where it came from, and plus that’s the mood at all times.
HipHopDX: With this project, you say that this is a revamped version of yourself. What didn’t you like about yourself that made you want to enter this new phase in your life and career?
Flo Milli: Before the fame, before I even got signed, I would say I was in a position in life where I wouldn’t say I had it all together, but I would say I aspired to have it all together. So being the fact that I became who I wanted to become is the revamped version. From going from saying what you wanted to do and speaking what I wanted to do and actually doing it is a big step, It’s a lot of people that want to be something, but they never put the action behind it. So with me, that’s the only difference. I had a lot of dreams and goals, but I actually started to believe in myself and go after that, and it turned out lit.
HipHopDX: There’s an interview you did where you said people have often mistaken you for being mean and having an attitude. But I’ve also heard you say that that’s not really who you are. You’re actually a nice, kind person, a respectful person. Why do you feel you need to show more attitude on this project?
Flo Milli: First of all, I want to say, I made that interview when I was what, 18, 19? I’m 20 now. So people, we change. People change. A caterpillar doesn’t stay a caterpillar forever. So going through life and going through different situations, you do change as people, and that’s what we’re here for. We’re not here to stay the same person. So I would say that I have a mean side, and I can go there. But at the same time, when it comes to people that I love, my day-to-day people, very nice, very open, loyal, all of that.
But when it comes to people I don’t know, I don’t give a fuck. Especially if you’re hating, I really don’t give a fuck, and I can go there. That’s always been there, and I think that’s why I said I think people think I’m mean, but it was really just me finding myself. As I grow each year and each year that goes on, I find a new quality about myself or I learn something new about myself. So I wouldn’t really take what I said in that interview too extremely. I’m not even who I’m meant to be forever right now. I’m still growing.
HipHopDX: With the music on this tape, it’s really focused on being a boss and being the top woman. Do you see yourself exploring different lanes like being more emotional or talking about different things other than that in the future?
Flo Milli: Definitely. I mean, I’m not going to just box myself into one genre, although I stand for something. I love rapping. I love everything that I do now, but, eventually, like I said, people change. So if you really are smart with your business, you have to have versatility as an artist, because although you may want to attract one group, one wise person always told me if you always rap about one thing, it’s not going to lead that. You know what I’m saying? You have to be versatile, and that’s what I work towards.
HipHopDX: There’s a special group of women who got on a track with their male peers and completely violated their features. There’s Foxy Brown on LL Cool J’s “I Shot Ya” and Nicki Minaj on “Monster.” If you could get on a track with a group of male rappers to go toe to toe against who would it be?
Flo Milli: Ooh, I would definitely, first of all, choose Young Thug. I really admire him as an artist all the way around, because he’s just so dope. So I would say Young Thug, Gunna, DaBaby. I’m trying to think of who else. There are so many male rappers that I like. I listen to this shit every day, so I don’t know. I don’t want to get it wrong. There’s Future. I like Future.