From an NCAA Championship To Red Bull’s Terminal Takeover: Flau’jae Johnson Is Unstoppable

In a brief phone interview before her set at Red Bull’s event, Flau’jae Johnson spoke to Complex about her rap career, working with Lil Wayne, and more.


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At the beginning of the year, Louisiana State University (LSU) basketball player Flau’jae Johnson jotted down her resolutions on a vision board. At the top of the list was an NCAA championship. Sure, it may have seemed like an ambitious goal for a college first-year, but on April 2, Flau’jae and her team accomplished just that. The LSU Tigers beat the University of Iowa’s Hawkeyes in the final game of the season, 102 to 85. The accomplishment led to much conversation and buzz online. (There was some speculation about whether the LSU team would accept the White House’s invitation after First Lady Jill Biden said both LSU and the runner-up should visit.) Now, with a NCAA championship under her belt, Flau’jae has her sights set on tackling the music industry next. 

Many people now know Johnson as a star hooper, but the 19-year-old is also a budding rapper. Johnson began rapping at the age of 9 years old at family birthday parties and small functions. In 2017, she caught a big break, debuting on Season 3 of the Jermaine Dupri and Queen Latifah–produced competition series The Rap Game. The following year, at the age of 14, Johnson appeared on Season 13 of America’s Got Talent, where she blew the judges and fans away with her performance of the original song “Guns Down”—which was in reference to her father’s murder. She was also the first rapper to receive a golden buzzer on the show. Since then, Johnson has released a string of singles and freestyles that flex her undeniable charisma and positive outlook. And in 2020, she signed a distribution deal with Roc Nation. 

Flau’jae has been grinding for years now, but since the championship game, things have been taking off for her. Last weekend, Flau’jae performed at Red Bull’s Terminal Takeover—a two-day skateboard competition and street art event followed by live performances—in New Orleans’ old airport terminal. The concert was hosted by NOLA-born artist Currensy and closed out a two-day event that celebrates skating, film, and music culture. In addition to her 20-minute, showstopping set, Flau’jae tells Complex that she has some exciting new music dropping soon, including a Lil Wayne collaboration. “He respects me. He loves what I do. He loves my flow and how I spit,” she says of the rap veteran. “So hopefully he loves the record.” 

Lil Wayne isn’t the only one showing Flau’jae love. She reveals other producers such as OG Parker have asked to work with her. Wyclef Jean also shouted out the rapper’s NOLA performance on Twitter this week, writing, “Ready or not here she comes from the national championship to the big stage. Big up @Flaujae let me know when you ready to lock in! Let’s go!”

In a brief phone interview before her set at Red Bull’s event, Flau’jae Johnson spoke to Complex about her rap career, working with Lil Wayne, and how women are dominating sports and music. 

The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below. 


When did you first start rapping?
I started my rap career when I was about 8 years old. My father was a rapper and when I found out that he rapped, that’s all that I really wanted to do. So I began rapping. My dad used to have these annual birthday parties that my mom used to throw and I was like, “Mom, I want to perform.” And she was like, “No, you can’t perform. You’re a little girl.” Somehow I got to perform, and it went on YouTube. Then people around the city were like, “Does she do birthday parties?” So my mom became my manager and then things just started to go up from there.

Who were some of your musical influences growing up?
I used to listen to a lot of Tupac. I love Tupac. I used to listen to a lot of R&B. I think that’s where I get my slow rap from, because I used to listen to a lot of R&B, and me and my granddad used to ride around. I used to listen to a lot of jazz too. 

How did being on The Rap Game and America’s Got Talent at such a young age help you build your career?
Man, I think it just gave me the recognition that I needed. People would always recognize me and be like, “Oh, you’re Flau’jae from The Rap Game.” Just having that recognition and being able to translate that to every state that I’m in was very important.

How would you describe your rap style?
My rap style is motivational. I try to speak about life to the people. It’s very positive, super clean. You can relate to it. That’s the type of music I like to make.


Why is it important to produce positive music right now?
That’s just who I am. I try to light up every room that I step in. It wasn’t strategic, it was just something that fell into place. I don’t want to be cussing, and my grandma listens to my music and she’s like, “Oh, nah.” I never wanted to be like that. So it just kind of happened to where I didn’t have to curse because of the route that my music goes in and who I was as a person. And then with the basketball being involved, my not cursing was like a different up because now that I’m having NIL deals with different brands and stuff, and they love to have a clean face. 

What are you most excited  about your Red Bull’s Terminal Takeover performance this weekend?
Hanging out with Curren$y. He’s also a host of the show and performing down in New Orleans. I’ve never performed in New Orleans before. That’s the city of jazz. They’re using the old airport, so I just feel like it should be super dope seeing the skate crews, seeing them go to work. I’m super excited.

What was it like getting to meet Curren$y? Did he give you any pointers?
No, he didn’t even give me no pointers, but I’m hoping to chop it up with him whenever I get down there. I’m super excited.

You’ve proven yourself on the court, but do you feel like you still have something to prove when it comes to rap?
Absolutely. I feel like I haven’t done anything in my rap career. You could say for basketball, “Okay, you done something. You won a national championship.” I did the highest of the highest. But in music, I haven’t done anything. And that’s how I stay humble. I got a lot of people listening to my music, but I haven’t won a Grammy yet. So I still feel like I’m at the bottom.

What do you hope your Terminal Takeover performance will prove?
I just want to have a lot of fun and make new fans. I just want to show people who I am. 

Have you been getting more music fans since your NCAA victory?
Yeah, and my [followers] have gone up so much. It was actually insane. I can’t even believe it.


What new music are you currently working on?
The feature with [Lil] Wayne. I’m working on that right now, making sure that I got the best song ever for him to jump on. I’m super excited, man. Lil Wayne and DJ Khaled as well.

What can folks expect from this record? What is the sound you’re going for?
It’ll just be something that you could turn up to. And it’s just speaking on what I’m going through after winning the championship. It’s just going to be something new. Lil Wayne, I mean he’s a legend. And I feel like if my dad wasn’t murdered at the time that he was, he was coming up with Wayne and them, so he probably would’ve been able to get to do a Wayne feature or something like that because he already had one with Birdman. So I’m fulfilling this one for my father as well.

What was your initial conversation with Lil Wayne like?
He said for me to come with the heat. But he respects me. He loves what I do. He loves my flow and how I spit. So hopefully he loves the record.

You also tweeted that producers have been reaching out to you. Can you drop any names?
OG Parker. That was a big one for me because he is from the culture. Teddy Riley hit me up. I swear so many legendary producers as well.

Are there any other figures who showed love that may have surprised you?
Probably when I met DJ Khaled. It was all love. He was like, “Come to the crib. Come chill with the kids.” Lil Baby as well. Baby reposted my stuff, as well as Nicki Minaj. She reposted a video that I posted on TikTok or on Instagram. 

How are you juggling both a basketball and music career?
I’m trying to schedule as well as I can and just stay disciplined in my schedule and stay on a true routine. I feel like my routine got me here, so I’m going to just keep doing the same thing that got me here. I ain’t changing nothing up.

While you and your teams have gotten a lot of love and support, there have been some people spewing negativity. How do you stay positive amid the vicious news cycle?
Discipline. Discipline is going to take us farther than anything. I’m in a moment right now. I have been in moments before where I’m at the top of the world with America’s Got Talent and things like that, so I know how to navigate that better. I’m working on longevity. Consistency and longevity. So I know that this is just a moment and I’ve got to continue to create moments if I want to be successful. That’s why it’s not really phasing me too much.

Do you think times are changing for women in sports and music?
Absolutely. First of all, women’s basketball is changing. And then what a woman can be is changing as well. I think it’s bigger than basketball. What we did as a national championship team, I think we showed what you can be as a woman and as an athlete.

What are your future goals?
I want to drop this EP and go on tour. I have a lot of festivals I’m going on. Turn it up, turn it up this summer and give them a show to watch. 

What’s the most important thing people should know about you right now?
None of this would’ve happened if it wasn’t for God. I’m just blessed. I’m a firm believer in that. I pray and I work. 

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