The Young Money signee talks about her difficult past, being grateful for Kodak Black, her relationship with XXXTentacion's mom, Cleo, and more.
At just 20 years old, Broward County-born performer Mellow Rackz has lived a life that most people can’t even fathom. After giving birth to her son as a teenager and surviving a shooting that left her living with a colostomy bag for months, the budding star found a love for music during her recovery that’s allowed her to make it out of her own personal hell, and live out her dreams in a self-proclaimed “heaven on Earth.”
Thanks to her unshakable confidence and talent, as well as finding a dedicated and supportive mentor (and manager) in the form of XXXTentacion’s mother, Cleopatra Bernard, Mellow – also known as Melody – landed in front of Lil Wayne, who believed in her enough to sign her to his Young Money Records label last September.
So far, the Florida-born recording artist has delivered two singles – “Diamonds” and “Right Now,” with another, called “WHAT I WANT,” set to arrive on Friday, March 25th. While she has yet to collaborate with anyone on a released track, the mother of one named the Queen of Rap herself, Nicki Minaj, as an artist on her dream list, also revealed that she’s got a lot of versatility in store for us when it comes to her own songs. “I want to let the world know that I’m more than a rapper,” she told us.
“I’m more than a singer. I have a lot of different personalities inside of me, like I do pop music, I rap, I can sing and I feel like it’s really different and I can’t wait ‘til I can show all these different sides of me. Almost have a rockstar side for sure. None of my music sounds the same, like I have a lot of different lanes – I don’t have a lane. That’s why I feel like I’m gonna be here for a long time.”
With so many genres loaded in her arsenal, and industry greats like Tunechi, Drizzy, and Mack Maine backing her, it’s obvious that the only direction for Melody is up as she poises herself to become the First Lady of YMCMB.
While we spoke with Mellow Racks, she opened up about where she currently stands with Kodak Black following their split, what it’s like to work so closely with Lil Wayne and the Young Money crew, recalled memories of attending high school with XXX, and dished on some of the best advice that Drake has given her – check it out below, and read our recent Women’s History Month interview with Melii here.
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
HNHH: I guess starting off I’m gonna go back to your childhood. I obviously had to creep your Instagram and I found the video that you shared on YouTube from your Shake It Up audition tape. What does it feel like for you to watch that back now?
Mellow Rackz: Honestly, to watch that back now, it just really gives me goosebumps because it’s like I’m becoming a star that I was always aspiring to be, not even knowing it.
What were you like as a little girl? I know that you had a rough childhood but at your core what is the little girl in you like?
The little girl in me was just always looking for love and looking to be loved and just wanting a mother figure and attention. Just wanting to be a kid and be loved, but I never had that.
Did you know that you wanted to become a rapper or did you have other aspirations for yourself then?
No, I did not know I wanted to become a rapper, but I did know for sure that I wanted to have my own business and be my own boss.
Is that your son with you right now?
Say Hi! [Her son: Hi!]
So since you didn’t have that kind of mother figure growing up, has it been healing for you to be able to be that mother figure for your son?
Yes. So it’s like I want to give him all the love that I feel like I didn’t get enough of or didn’t have. But I am very appreciative to have him because he also taught me love.
Absolutely, that’s so important. So elsewhere on your Instagram, you said that the album that you’re working on is going to “change the world,” which makes me super excited to hear what you have in store. Can you give us any idea of what to expect or who we’re gonna hear?
Honestly, I feel like my music is empowering and it’s like if you’re not making music to empower people or make people feel good or make people happy, it’s meaningless. It’s like what are you doing it for? I feel like I have a purpose and that purpose is to speak to the people.
I feel that actually, just creeping through your Instagram, you really radiate that message of just confidence and self-love and hustling and putting your all into everything that you’re doing.
Of course. You signed to Young Money last September, so congratulations. I can’t even imagine what that’s like for you, it must be so exciting.
Amen! It is.
At your celebratory party, you had your big chaining moment and before that, you were given $100K from Mack Maine. What was that like?
Honestly, the feeling is surreal. I still sometimes wake up and like, “Did that really just happen?” I feel very blessed. This stuff like this doesn’t just come around. It’s really a blessing; the money was a gift to me to get fly for the party and chaining.
How has your experience been with the label so far?
The experience with the label has been great. They’re amazing and they really believe in me and they give me confidence. I feel like I’m in very good hands – shout out to Avery Lipman and shout out to Wendy.
Working with Lil Wayne, how has your relationship with him evolved? Is he very hands-on, or do you have a lot of creative freedom in your process?
I have a lot of creative freedom in my process, but he’s very empowering and he really gives the best advice. One thing he always told me, he was like, “When you go in that booth make sure you go so hard that they can’t compare you to anybody.” He’s just a great mentor to have and it’s honestly a blessing.
I’m so glad you have someone like that in your corner. So, on your NoJumper episode you were talking about your shooting, and you said that you kind of felt that it was meant to happen – can you talk a little bit how you felt like it’s changed the trajectory of your life and how it’s made you into the person that you are today?
Honestly, I feel like that shooting killed the old me, and it was like a rebirth of the new me. It was just a testimony to survive and be here for my son and my family and I feel like it’s just a sign of God that I’m here for a reason and to never stop and to keep going and spread my message.
"I feel like that shooting killed the old me, and it was like a rebirth of the new me."
And you said that while you were in the hospital, that’s kind of when you found your love for music. Do you think, had you not been shot, would you still have turned to music or no?
No. I feel like, no I don’t.
Do you know where you’d be?
I would probably... I don’t know where I would be, because all of my old friends are either from the streets or either dead or in jail. So, this saves me. It’s like a new life.
Yeah, it all just lined up so perfectly for you.
It all lined up perfectly.
Also in the hospital you listened to XXXTENTACION’s music a lot, you said. So, you went to high school with him as well. How do you remember him? What was your relationship like, or did you have one?
Me and X didn’t really have a relationship. I was closer with Minh, Kid Trunks. But he was just, to me, I used to look at him and be like “Oh my god, this kid is crazy,” like he would be raging and he would be in the hallways walking with no shirt on. Then he would be like fighting in the hallways, and everyone would just be like, “Yo this kid is crazy.” And then, boom. He blew up to be the biggest f*cking superstar and now we’re like wow. We understand now. And it’s just such a blessing that I’m so close with his mom the way I am.
"Me and X didn’t really have a relationship. I was closer with Minh, Kid Trunks. But he was just, to me, I used to look at him and be like “Oh my god, this kid is crazy,” like he would be raging and he would be in the hallways walking with no shirt on."
That’s actually what I wanted to mention next. So, you met Cleo at a party, right?
Yeah, I met her at a party.
How did she go from being a stranger to such a key figure in your career?
So, the first day we met, I was just so in awe of her. She was just such a boss and her energy was amazing, and she was just so sweet and then I don’t know, I just seen a lot of X in her as well. Like she was standing strong and I was like, “This woman is a strong woman.” For a woman to be able to empower another woman, I feel like that’s strength. And now I feel like she’s the mother I never had. She’s really changed me and molded me into the woman that I am today and if it wasn’t for her, I would not be nowhere near where I am today. She’s also one of the biggest blessings. She changed the way I think, the way I look at life, the way I respond to things. One of my biggest problems is I’m very emotional and the one thing she taught me is, in this world there’s no emotions – we have to be strong. One thing X said, “The pain will never end, we must be numb.” And it’s the truth, we just gotta find a way to cope, find a way to keep going, and just find a way to keep on being great and never stop.
I think it is really, really special how she lost her son and then you have that absent mother figure but you guys were able to sort of just form that special bond.
Yeah she lost him at 21 and I’m 20. We’re both in Broward, and we all just click. It’s the feeling, it’s not forced. You know when the vibe is forced, like everything is natural. We just collide, and she’s able to get things done, and she’s an amazing manager. Hands down. She goes so hard for me. She makes sure I get the best of everything.
Are there any artists or people from Florida that you can speak on that have helped get you to where you are, that you’re still in contact with?
Florida specifically, Kodak. I can’t lie. Kodak helped me a lot. He made a whole video cosigning me, and he was like, “Mellow Rackz is very talented and I can’t wait for you guys to hear her music and I believe in her,” and he did make a lot of people believe in me. I will be forever grateful for that. There’s certain stuff that money can’t buy, and him doing that for me, did a lot for me. It was a big cosign in my city.
"Kodak helped me a lot. He made a whole video cosigning me, and he was like, “Mellow Rackz is very talented and I can’t wait for you guys to hear her music and I believe in her,” and he did make a lot of people believe in me. I will be forever grateful for that."
Definitely. You said on No Jumper that you and Kodak don’t talk anymore, so is that still the case?
Honestly, we are very good friends, like we talk about everything. Our families hangout, our kids play. I love his mom, I eat with his mom, like we’re all good. He has a really good heart. It’s just, he’s a product of his environment like we all are.
Yeah, when things don’t work out they don’t work out, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to see them eat – I think that’s literally exactly what you said in the No Jumper interview.
I could never feel any bad way towards him or say anything to harm his character because he has done so much for me, he has. He had a lot to do with blowing me up.
Like we were saying before, you post a lot about confidence, motivation, growth, and just being a lifetime learner so who are your biggest teachers, and what are some of the most important lessons that you’ve learned?
I would honestly say, I really just live and learn. I just learn something new everyday and I just apply it to my life. Anything I learn I try to make way out of it so it sticks to me. Mack Maine has been a great mentor and father figure for me, and Cleo is teaching me a lot about philanthropy and being a humble person.
Would you say that you’re a naturally confident person? Or is that something you’ve had to work really really hard to achieve for yourself?
I’ve always believed that I was special and that I was different. I always felt like that, so, that was just in me. Some things are on you, but that was definitely, it’s really in me. When I walk in the room, I feel like I have control of that room. Anywhere, anything that I put my mind to, I feel like I can do it. I feel like the word no doesn’t exist. There’s no excuses, we gotta make it. There’s no way. Some people fake it ‘til they make it, and there’s us who actually go and we make it, we make it happen, and I feel like I’m one of those people who’ve always made it happen. I’ve been taking care of my family since I was 16 years old, everyone, so I’ve always wanted to be an independent breadwinner. That confidence was definitely something that I came into this world with.
Well, your resume speaks for itself, like you’re 20 years old and you already have so much under your belt. How do you navigate and find balance between your personal life, your career, and motherhood?
I feel like the character that I embody is just very versatile. So I know how to switch it up, like alright, I’m in artist mode. Alright, now I’m in family mode. Alright, now I need to fall back and just be incognito. I’ll put my shades on. So, I feel like I’ve learned how to balance life because if you don’t find that balance, you could just get really caught up and drained in the industry so you have to find your balance.
Do you think you have a good circle of girlfriends in your life? Or as someone in the industry, is it hard to navigate new relationships and friendships with people?
Honestly, I’m really not focused on making relationships, because I feel like having friends is not really a big…I wouldn’t say I’m a loner, but I get a lot done alone. So, my main focus is work, and I speak to my manager, speak to my aunt, my family. So, it’s like I have a very tight circle. I feel like that’s how we keep things, you know, a little sense of privacy. We want privacy in our life. Sometimes when you are in the limelight, you can’t really let too many people in. I gotta protect my energy, protect my peace, and I gotta protect my family and the ones around me because my actions can harm others.
Yeah, exactly. It’s so important to just have those boundaries.
I gotta protect the whole team. I gotta be careful who I talk to, I gotta be careful what I say. So it’s like, just keep it to a minimum – don’t do too much, and just get the work done. Just get the work done and everything will fall into place. I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to make money.
Yes, we’re here to be America’s Next Top Model.
All my friends are dead.
So Drake is someone that’s appeared on your Instagram feed more than once. Have the two of you ever had any studio sessions or is he someone that you see yourself working with in the future?
I don’t want to speak on that just yet, but I would say stay tuned. Drake is a very good person, a sweetheart. He’s just always empowered me and let me know basically like, “Yo you’re fire,” and that’s just amazing. Our relationship is great. He’s a great mentor. He gives the best advice. He’s like the big brother I never had. I have a brother but my brother has mental issues. So I never really had a father figure, I never had a brother to really look up to and speak to, and he does give me a lot of good information that I will be applying, and he’s always told me one thing is to make sure that I’m different. That I put distance between me and others. It’s basically, be myself and stand out and the world will accept me.
"Drake is a very good person, a sweetheart. He’s just always empowered me and let me know basically like, “Yo you’re fire,” and that’s just amazing. Our relationship is great. He’s a great mentor. He gives the best advice."
Well yeah, how can they not? You have Wayne and Drake in your corner.
Wayne is the G.O.A.T. and has opened a lot of doors. He’s a great mentor, so I definitely feel like I’m in great hands. I definitely feel like the only way is up, and there’s no ceilings for sure.
Are there any female artists that are on your dream collaboration lists for the future?
Female artists for dream collaborations… A dream collaboration would be the Queen of Rap. Of course, Nicki. She’s the dream. It doesn’t get better than her. Nicki. For sure.
What about just women in general, like actresses, people in your life, whoever, that inspire you? You can share those too.
Honestly, I feel like Alicia Keys. She inspired me at a very young age. I fell in love with Alicia Keys when I was about 9, 10 years old. I used to make covers to her songs on my Facebook. I don’t know, with her voice, I felt power. Then she made “Empire State of Mind,” and she’s just a beautiful woman. She doesn’t wear any makeup. I feel like she’s a very good representation of black women, and she represents us very well, and she paints a very amazing vivid picture of what we should be like.
Yeah, I agree with you, I love her too. Good answer. What advice do you have for any women out there who want to be where you are in their own lifes, and kind of get into your mindset?
Don’t take no for an answer, just keep going. Don’t listen to nobody. If I would’ve listened to people, I would not be where I was at. You have to go with your first mind and follow your heart. Follow your heart and chase your dreams. No matter what it takes. It’s gonna be hard. It’s not gonna be easy. When they tell you it’s gonna be easy, it’s not. And, you’re gonna lose a lot of people on your way up. So be ready to lose a lot of people. Be ready to break bonds. People you love are gonna leave. It’s gonna be hard. People are not gonna look at you the same for the choices you choose. It’s gonna come with a lot of jealousy. But everybody can’t come to the top when you get there, I promise it’s gonna be all worth it. I’m nowhere where I want to be, but I’m very grateful for where I am, because you don’t get this. You don’t get this type of lifestyle.
Well I want to thank you so much because I find you so inspiring and I’m really, really excited to see where your career is gonna go and what else you have to put out. Is there anything else that you want to say or anything we should be looking out for you before I let you go?
I feel like I want to let the world know that I’m more than a rapper. I’m more than a singer. I have a lot of different, different personalities inside of me, like I do pop music, I rap, I can sing and I feel like it’s really different and I can’t wait ‘til I can show all these different sides of me. Almost have a rockstar side for sure. None of my music sounds the same. Like I have a lot of different lanes. I don’t have a lane. That’s why I feel like I’m gonna be here for a long time. I obviously can’t show all my sides now, but I’m just working on releasing everything and connecting with you guys. I just want to touch people with my music. That’s the main thing. Touch people. If you’re not touching anyone, what are you doing it for?
Exactly. Very good point. Well thank you again, so, so, so much.
Thank you so much for having me.