Flo Milli has everyone's attention.
On July 24, Alabama's brightest new star dropped her debut project, Ho, Why Is You Here? She hoped all her hard work would pay off, but the response to the tape exceeded expectations. Hours after it hit streaming services, Flo Milli’s name was trending on Twitter, garnering overwhelmingly positive reactions from fans, as well as fellow artists like Kehlani, Janelle Monae, City Girls, and more. But Flo Milli tells Complex that she was most shaken by Missy Elliott's display of support.
"That gave me shivers," she recalls. "I think I was cooking when she did that. I had to do a double take."
Fans are raving over Flo Milli’s effortlessly fun and confident delivery on songs like "Weak," "May I," and "Send the Addy." The 20-year-old rapper, whose breakout song "Beef FloMix" went viral on TikTok, says she is guided by a philosophy to always do what she wants. Now she wants her listeners to feel the confidence to do the same. "I just like to make people feel confident and hot," she notes. "I want to raise their vibe. That's why I make fun music. So when people are sort of down, they could just listen to it and turn up."
The last few years have been pivotal for women in rap, as more acts have found commercial success and praise. In addition to bringing a "youthful" energy to the table, Flo Milli says she is representing for Black women of a darker complexion. And as her platform grows larger, she wants to inspire women to feel more confident in their own skin.
With the successful release of Ho, Why Is You Here? under her belt, Flo Milli is already focused on what's next. She is thinking about her follow-up project and eyeing potential collaborations from southern artists like DaBaby, Lil Baby, Mulatto, and Rico Nasty. Complex caught up with her to talk about Ho, Why Is You Here?, what "Flo Milli shit" really means, and her long term goals in rap. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
How did it feel to wake up and see that you were trending because of Ho, Why Is You Here?
It felt so good. Honestly, it's starting to hit me now. I wanted to know how it really feels to actually be reaping the rewards for your hard work, because I've worked so hard on that mixtape. People don't even know what happened behind the scenes. But I really learned how it is to be a full-blown artist, and it's not easy. But that's what makes it beautiful, just being able to go through the good and the bad and then have the outcome be beautiful.
Who was the most surprising artist who reached out to you and reacted to your project?
Most definitely, Missy Elliot. That was crazy. I love her so much, and I’ve been listening to her since I was younger. That gave me shivers. I think I was cooking when she did that. I had to do a double take. I didn't believe it at first, but that one really made me and my mom proud.
How would you describe your sound for someone who isn’t familiar with Flo Milli?
I would describe my sound as sassy, fun, and kind of poppy, but it still has that way of trap rap to it. I would say playful nursery rhymes. I guess you would say trap music, but it's a mixture of a lot of different things. I just like to make people feel confident and hot. I want to raise their vibe. That's why I make fun music. So, when people are sort of down, they could just listen to it and turn up.
What exactly is "Flo Milli shit"? How would you describe it?
"Flo Milli shit" is really everything consumed up with my everyday life. So anything that I would do, hit the "Flo Milli shit." My alter ego, which is what I am most of the time, she talks her shit. She’s very assertive, determined, bossy. Everybody that knows me, knows that whenever I want someone to go get it, I don't care what nobody thinks about that. So, it's going to get done. That's some "Flo Milli shit." When you’re on your shit, you get money, you're not worried about these niggas, and you’re just on top of your game. That's what "Flo Milli shit" is.
What were your goals going into this project?
I got exactly what I wanted. I just wanted for people to feel my pettiness, to analyze my work, and see my aesthetic more. I think that's what I achieved, just looking at Twitter. And I've heard a lot from older and younger people. I think that's what I was trying to target, especially with “May I” and “Weak,” being that those had very historical references in it. All the people can relate, and that's kind of what I wanted. I wanted it to be something that unites older and younger people.
What was the writing and recording process like?
It was hard. People have to realize artists have regular day-to-day lives. So, we go through things. We're not robots. We don't just get a free pass in life. But going through the things that I did go through, I learned a lot of lessons, and I would say that helped me expand my writing. So I would say it was extremely hard at times, and then sometimes it was really easy. It just depends on how much work you're willing to put in. And I guess it taught me that I don't give up, and I'm very strong and determined when I want something.
“I just like to make people feel confident and hot. I want to raise their vibe.”
How long did this process take from start to finish?
I don't have a really specific timeframe, but I can tell you some songs got scrapped out, some got used, and we're just going to leave it at that. Everything happens for a reason and maybe it wasn't the right time when I was expecting it to come out. But the time that it came out was the right time. That's really all that matters.
Were there any songs that you decided to hold for another project?
Yeah. There were a couple of songs that I decided I was going to hold, but I'm not going to speak on that because I'm a firm believer in jinxing.
"Weak" is a fan-favorite. How did that song come together?
Yeah, these niggas weak, plain and simple. Everybody knows niggas in 2020 ain’t shit. And I'm not speaking for all of them, but we know what they be on. So at the end of the day, I had to make a song for the ladies that be on the same page as me. I really feel like niggas are big ass kids in a man's body sometimes. And I think they don't even realize that themselves, but this song definitely woke them up to realize that, if they didn't know it already.
What's your favorite track on the project?
I don't know. I'm kind of arguing with "Pussycat Doll" or "Send the Addy." "Send the Addy" is my vibe when I'm chilling or driving. I like "Send the Addy," but then I kept listening to "Pussycat Doll." It's kind of hard to choose, but I'm going to have to go with "Send The Addy."
People don't talk about Alabama's music culture enough. Can you describe what the Alabama sound is?
Well, to give you an idea, Doe B is from Alabama. And then Gucci Mane is from Alabama. And Rich Boy. So, if you really pay attention to the pattern, it used to be a very trappy sound. I would say the way Gucci raps, but kind of similar to Atlanta. Because you know, we're so close to Atlanta. But then you might find certain people who are extremely different. So, some people pick up sounds from other places. But I would say for the most part, it’s very Southern trappy. But I'm the first female coming out of Alabama. I kind of set the tone and I set the bar very high, because it's not any female rappers that ever came out of Alabama. So, maybe it's the wave that’s about to be starting.
“I kind of set the tone and I set the bar very high, because it's not any female rappers that ever came out of Alabama.”
Was it an intentional choice to release Ho, Why Is You Here? without any features?
Yeah, that was a decision on my part. I think it's because I'm so different and I want to stay in my different pockets. Coming out, a lot of people feel like they need to prove themselves by having features or whatever the case may be. But I feel like this is about me, and it's about me shining. I want people to see my talent, and I want to showcase myself first. I want to introduce myself fully, 100 percent as Flo Milli, and then I'll collaborate with other people. Now you all know who I am. You all know what I mean. You know I'm that bitch.
Who are some people that you would like to collaborate on your next projects?
DaBaby. I fuck with him really hard. Rico Nasty. Mulatto. She's hard as fuck. Lil Baby. Oh, I wouldn't mind collaborating with Yo Gotti. Honestly, anybody from the South, I'm with it.
You mentioned several female artists on your collaboration wishlist. Have you seen a rivalry amongst women in rap or have you seen a lot of unity?
I'm happy about it, because I always said if I was ever to make it, I wanted to be the one to show people that we can like each other and still do anything. There's enough money out here for everybody, so we don't have to hate each other. It doesn't have to just be two rappers at the top, or just one female rapper at the top. It can be all of us, because if you look at the guys, everybody's collaborating with each other. They're quick to collab, and there are so many of them. So why can't females do the same? If we come together more than we’re taken apart, do you know how much more we will blow up? Exchanging each other's fan bases and shit. And it's not even just about that, it's just to show the younger generation they don't have to be aggressive or hateful towards another person, because they’re winning to. God made us all different for a reason. You ain't got no reason to be worried about the next person anyways, because you're different.
What do you feel you’re bringing to the new generation of female artists with your sound?
I would say very youthful, heavy baggage energy. Also, with me being dark-skinned and petite, I feel there are a lot of standards in society for a lot of girls on Instagram and social media. It kind of tears some people's confidence down. I've noticed a lot of girls don't feel confident in their skin complexion or their weight, regardless of what it is. I think God is bringing some people to light just to show the people looking up to them that you can look like this and still do what you want to do. Or you don't have to have this and that to be great. You can be great being 100 percent you. I think that's important.
What do you hope your fans have taken away from this project?
I guess that I'm still confident. I got my shit together, and they should get their shit together. They should know that this is a young female that's doing what she wants to do and doing what she loves. And it's lit.
“Ten years down the road, I see myself being a heavy influencer, a legend, an icon, a business woman, an actress.”
With the success of Ho, Why Is You Here?, are you looking to start working on your debut album or will you drop another mixtape or EP beforehand?
Yeah, definitely. I want to keep working. I definitely don't want to stop here. So yeah, I'm definitely working on some new music coming out and possible collabs and stuff.
Where do you see yourself 10 years down the road?
Ten years down the road, I see myself being a heavy influencer, a legend, an icon, a business woman, an actress. Someone who's a vet in the industry. I see myself as someone who's wanting to provide for their family and change generational crises.
Flo Milli in Hollywood sounds fun. Have you always been interested in acting?
Yes. Actually, in elementary school, I used to be in plays and stuff. Even in church, I've always been into that. I've always liked to act. I don't know why. I would literally act shit out at home by myself, just on some goofy shit. And actually, it was funny. I also used to dance, but I do want to be in movies.
"Beef FloMix" was your first big single. How did that come together, and why did you decide to remix Playboi Carti for your first record?
I think I was 18 when I wrote that. That song is kinda mad old, but I was in high school and I graduated six months early. So when I wrote that song, I was kind of bored at four o'clock. I think I got fired from my job or some shit. And I was just sitting at home, bored. I didn't know what to do. So I just went on YouTube and I was looking at beats and stuff, and then I saw Playboi Carti's "Beef." I was high, and when I be high, shit sounds 10 times better. So I was already smoking weed, and then the beat came on and I just started to rap on it. That's how I came up with that. I was just being goofy. And then I posted it on Instagram. It was a 30-second video I posted, and all my Instagram followers were like, "You should make this a song. You should get in the studio." But at the time, I was really broke. I got a job at McDonald's or some shit. I saved up some money to go to the studio. When I finally got like a hundred or some dollars, I went to the studio, and that's how I made that song and put it out. It ended up blowing up maybe six months later on TikTok.
Who is your favorite rapper of all time?
I'm going to have to go with Young Thug. He's too hard. I love him.
What’s the most important thing you want people to know about you right now?
I want them to know that I'm always working hard to make them proud and make them happy and shit. I think that goes unnoticed because I may not communicate with my fans as much, which is going to change soon in the future. I just had to get this album straight. But I want them to know that I love them, and I appreciate their support.