Flo Milli details her early life in Mobile, Alabama and being inspired by both Nicki Minaj and Rico Nasty in a brand new instalment of "On The Come Up."
Despite the pandemic affecting literally everyone's lives this year, some artists have taken advantage of the situation to break out as the leading creatives of the next generation. Our latest season of On The Come Up has already looked into the young careers of D Smoke and Fivio Foreign and, this week, we're dissecting the rise of Flo Milli, one of the leading ladies in rap and an absolute superstar in the making.
Hailing from Mobile, Alabama, Flo Milli radiates positive energy and bubbliness. Prior to the release of her eye-opening debut mixtape Ho, why is you here?, Flo had already started to create a buzz for herself with a couple of big songs on TikTok. Don't be mistaken though. With Flo Milli, this isn't a "fifteen minutes of fame" situation.
Image provided by the label
During our conversation, Flo admits that she's always wanted to be famous and is adamant that her current fame is the real deal. She's taken the right steps in order to survive in this cut-throat industry, breaking out as one of the premier names on a growing list of women to watch in rap.
Watch the latest episode of On The Come Up with Flo Milli, and read the unabridged editorial version of the interview below.
HotNewHipHop: What's up, Flo Milli! How are you?
Flo Milli: I’m good, I’ve been doing really good, like I’ve been in a better place, so yeah, I’m doing pretty good.
Where are you at right now?
I’m in Atlanta right now, just out here working, doing, you know, day-to-day stuff, making moves and sh*t. I really love Atlanta, honestly.
I wanted to start off by asking: who is Flo Milli? For the people who don’t know.
Flo Milli is a fun, confident, vibrant, beautiful girl that just wants to have fun and live care-free. Somebody who voices her opinions, somebody who always says what she wants, does what she wants, and, for the most part, is that b*tch.
I love that. You’ve been working for a minute, but with the project Ho, why is you here?, you seriously blew up. How does it feel?
Oh my gosh, honestly, it’s still hitting me. Every day, just before I was on this call, I was on YouTube looking at [album] reaction videos, I’m like, ‘Yo, people are really starting to notice,’ so it’s dope to see and just very heartwarming, like I just feel good seeing all this success.
Everybody’s loving it too, I’m seeing Cardi B, SZA, Halle Berry— everybody’s sending their love.
Yeah, that’s the part that really did it to me. All these celebrities showing love, that sh*t was dope as f*ck. These are people I...I wouldn’t say I looked up to, but before I was famous, I’d look at these people on TV like, ‘Yes! She’s hittin’ it,’ and now they’re congratulating me, so it’s dope.
It’s nice, cause now they’re looking at you the same way. There’s gonna be little girls looking at you like, ‘Damn, I wanna be Flo Milli when I grow up.’
Yeah, that’s just so lit. That’s so lit. And it’s only dope because, in music culture, I think what does it for me is the fact that your music will always be out there. So, even 10 years from now, it’s an era, and people will always remember you and I think that’s the cool part about it.
Absolutely. How did you get started in rap?
I started rapping when I was eleven. In middle school, me and my best friend, we both knew we wanted to rap so we started this lil'- rap group, and ever since then, her parents had a little restaurant in my city, so we would perform in front of people while they were eating and stuff. Her uncle would always be like, ‘Y’all need to stop doing that sh*t,’ like, ‘Get in the back,’ but we always just wanted to be famous, so that’s how it started. And then, of course, me watching 106 & Park, seeing other female rappers, it inspired me to really chase after it. I’ve always been a music kid, so I just never stopped doing music.
Are you still in touch with the friend that you made the group with?
No, I’m not, but it’s all love over here. I still respect and love her, so there’s no beef or nothing going on.
Okay, good. I heard that you were also really inspired by Nicki Minaj— what was it about her that made you want to give music a try?
"I was big on Nicki [Minaj] verses, I'mma be honest, like her verses were the hardest to me. Like her features. “Monster” was my favorite. I used to sit on the computer all day after school, like, I’m on my mom’s computer and I was looking up every verse and learning every verse. I probably still can rap that sh*t to this day."
What’s your favorite song or project from Nicki?
I was big on Nicki verses, I'mma be honest, like her verses were the hardest to me. Like her features. “Monster” was my favorite. I used to sit on the computer all day after school, like, I’m on my mom’s computer and I was looking up every verse and learning every verse. I probably still can rap that sh*t to this day. It was “Monster” and “Hello, Good Morning”, that’s the one that really made me fall in love with her, the one where she had the blue hair and she was like, ‘I just came up in it, a little bit self-centered…’ like, that is iconic as f*ck to me. That’s what made me gravitate towards her.
Have you been in touch with her? Have you met her?
No, I have not met her... never talked to her or anything, but I just have to keep it real with my inspiration. I would never lie about who I was inspired by because, at the end of the day, it’s all love on my end. I’ll always tell who inspired me.
Who else are you inspired by?
I really love Rico Nasty.
Yes, I f*cking love Rico!
Yes, bro, can I tell you a story? When I was 16, I found Rico, and I’m 20 now, so this was a long time ago, and Rico was deadass a regular person when I found her. She had like 4,000 followers, I kid you not, and I was like, ‘Who is this girl? She’s dope as f*ck,’ and I just remember loving her music ever since I heard it. I used to repost all her sh*t and I think, when I turned 19, she followed me on Instagram and I was like, ‘What the f*ck?’ You know how some people have, like, the same username as a celebrity? I’m like, ‘Who is this playing with me?’ But then I saw the [verified] checkmark and I’m like, ‘Oh sh*t, this is her, like what the f*ck,’ and then I ended up meeting her in LA. It was just dope, so I have to put her in the mix.
She’s dope, she’s such a sweet person. I feel like, that’s somebody, I know a lot of people say my music is underrated, but hers is as well. I feel like we got so much talent, it just needs to be publicized more, but I really think she has her fanbase that goes hard for her, so that’s all that matters is that you got the people that really f*ck with you.
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Absolutely. Tell me more about your family. What were your parents like?
I grew up in kind of a dysfunctional family. I mean my dad was in my life until I was seven, so I was a Daddy’s Girl when my mom and dad were together, and then when I turned seven, they broke up, and that’s kind of when sh*t went left. I started going a little crazy. It wasn’t bad-bad, but I guess I had to really find myself for real. For the most part, I grew up with my mom and my sister. Okay, let me tell you the story, so first, it was me, my mom, my sister, and my dad. Then it was me, my mom, and my sister. Then it was me and my mom. At one point, I felt like I was an only child because my sister went off to college and sh*t, so there were some different stages.
What was it like growing up in Mobile?
Oh my gosh, Mobile is so...freaking...dangerous. We’re always on The First 48, I don’t know if you knew about that, but our city always makes it on that show, and it’s kind of sad. But Mobile is a type of place where it’s real hood, but at the same time, you got people who live in different parts. Like, there’s a lot of hoods down there, but at the same time, there’s a good part of the city, too. It’s really, for the most part, very small, everybody knows everybody. I wouldn’t say it’s extremely small, but nine times out of 10, you’re going to know somebody that knows somebody you know, or whatever, so I would say it’s real small and a little catty at times...it’s a little catty.
I feel like it can be catty anywhere, though.
Yeah, it is, but I’m gonna be honest, though, when I go to other states and sh*t, people are so f*cking nice. I will go into a mall and I’ll get so many compliments, but if I go to Mobile, all I would get is probably, like, mugs or stares or some sh*t.
Side-eyes and sh*t.
Yeah, I don’t know what it be.
Are you still living in Alabama?
No, I’m in Atlanta now.
What were you like as a kid? Were you more of an introvert or an extrovert?
I was definitely an outrovert. Oh, what’s it called— extrovert? [laughs] I was an extrovert as a kid; the older I got, I kind of started to become an introvert, and now it’s a mixture of both. I definitely need my alone time sometimes, but a lot of the time I like to go out and have fun, be around people and sh*t.
Were you a good student?
In high school. But in my 12th-grade year, I got into a fight— my 12th-grade year was kind of the year I started to turn up, I mean, I tried to keep it in as much as possible but it was funny as f*ck though. I’m not even gonna lie, that sh*t was funny as f*ck.
So, this girl tried to stab me--
[laughs] Yeah, because I was actually rapping in high school. I started back rapping when I was 16/17, so I was in the 11th-grade when I started back rapping. I don’t know what it was, some girls were supporting it but then there were some girls who just did not like me. And I didn’t give a f*ck at all, like, I promise you, the same way I am now, that’s how I was back then. This one girl, I’m not gonna put no names on it, but this one girl, she ended up telling my business, and I was not f*cking with that. And I tried to, you know, handle it as an adult, but she wanted to take it to Instagram and Snapchat, so I was like, ‘Okay,’ so we ended up arguing and I wasn’t trying to fight her, but at the same time I wasn’t backing down. I came to school and we had one class together, and I was going to fight her outside of school because I was in the Honors Society, like, I was a straight-A student. I was like, I’m not gonna let you get me kicked out of this sh*t—this b*tch had like a 1.5 GPA. I was like, ‘You don’t got nothing to lose, I got too much to lose,’ so I told her we can fight in the alley behind where I lived at. I went to the alley, she didn't show up. I was like, ‘This b*tch must be scared or something.’ I guess she got offended by that and the next day she came to school and she came up to my desk and was like, ‘You still trying to fight?’ And before I could get any words out, she started punching me. Next thing I know, chairs was flying, then she grabbed some scissors and was trying to stab me. She was like, ‘Die, b*tch, die,’ I was like, ‘What the f*ck is wrong with you girl?’ But I won the fight, though. Just to let you know— I won. I didn’t get my ass beat, I definitely beat her ass. She ended up getting suspended and I came back. Everybody in the school had my back. They were like, ‘Yeah [the other girl] started the fight, Flo didn’t start it,’ so I did end up coming back to school, but I did get kicked out of Honors Society.
That's wild. You gotta stand up for yourself, you know?
Yeah, like I could not go down like a p*ssy. Especially me being a rapper, I was like, ‘You not finna beat my ass in front of all these people and I’m over here talking sh*t in songs,' like that’s not gonna happen.
Let’s go back to the music. You said you were in a girl group with your friend before— how many people were in that group? Was it just you and your friend?
Yeah, it was me, her, and there was a surge of other girls, too, but it was always me and her, but there was other people as part of it at times.
At what point did you decide to go solo?
It wasn’t even my choice, but I would say 2014. She just didn’t want to rap anymore. We were friends for like, five years, so, for me, it was like, ‘Damn,’ like, ‘You really giving up on the dream?’ So, yeah, 2014. I don’t really remember what the conversation was like, but we just stopped being friends, and she didn’t have a passion for it anymore. I kind of stopped rapping, too, but then I was just like, ‘Nah,’ like, I care too much about this, I gotta keep doing this. Maybe a year later, I started rapping again.
And then we fast-forward to 2018, “Beef FloMix” blew up— what was your life like back then, two years ago?
Ooh, it was ugly. Back then, my life was crazy. It was just sh*t happening, back-to-back. I guess you can call it karma or whatever, but I was going through, I would call it ‘growing pains’, that’s what my God-dad called it. He said, ‘When you going through that, it’s called growing pains.’ I was in college, I had three jobs, I was working at a grocery store, at the movie theater, and then I was babysitting on the weekends. And then after that, I worked at a phone place. Right when "Beef" blew up, I was working at Metro PCS as a salesman or whatever the f*ck you call it. So yeah, I was doing that and I was going to college, and that’s when "Beef" blew up, and I just stopped going to school.
What were you studying in college?
I was studying Business Administration, but I was still rapping on the side. The only reason I went into business was because I wanted to own my own record label, so I was like, ‘Okay, I need to know how to do this for when I do get famous,’ so it was always part of the plan.
Where were you going to school?
It was a community college called Bishop Community College.
Do you find it helped you at all?
Hell no. It didn’t. I just felt like it was a distraction, it was taking up too much time. “Beef” really saved the f*ck out of my life. When “Beef” went up I was like, ‘Perfect timing, I don’t wanna be in school, I just wanna make music.’
At what point did RCA Records come into the picture?
RCA came in when “Beef” blew up, I think, on TikTok. That’s when they came into the picture. It was a lot of record labels on the table, it was a lot of offers, but I felt like RCA was fit for me because—just the vibe. I’m really big on vibes. They were just the perfect company to sign to, and they came right after I blew up.
"I think TikTok is dope. Just the fact that I even made it is all that matters to me. I don’t care if it was on TikTok, YouTube, whatever the f*ck— as long as I’m here, that’s all that matters because it’s not like I’m going to have a forever-TikTok career. I actually liked it, I enjoyed seeing everybody dancing to it on TikTok, but I can see why some people don’t like that association because they feel like, ‘Oh, I’m not a TikTok rapper, I’m a hood rapper,’ but I really embrace it, I think it’s dope."
Talking about TikTok, a lot of people aren’t really down with being labeled a “TikTok rapper”. I wouldn’t call you a TikTok rapper, but your songs are big there. What do you think about that?
I honestly love it. I think TikTok is dope. Just the fact that I even made it is all that matters to me. I don’t care if it was on TikTok, YouTube, whatever the f*ck— as long as I’m here, that’s all that matters because it’s not like I’m going to have a forever-TikTok career. I actually liked it, I enjoyed seeing everybody dancing to it on TikTok, but I can see why some people don’t like that association because they feel like, ‘Oh, I’m not a TikTok rapper, I’m a hood rapper,’ but I really embrace it, I think it’s dope.
That’s amazing. Back to the project— why did you decide on the title Ho, why is you here?
I decided on that title because, you know, being that I do have the charisma and attitude that I have, it comes with a lot of haters, it comes with a lot of lovers, so it’s like, I got something for the haters, always. I feel like a lot of my fans can relate to me, so being that, like, growing up I had girls hating on me, I had dudes preying on my downfall, that title really stemmed from that; the situations in the day-to-day, young female life, like, Ho, Why Is You Here? You feel me, like why is you here? If you wishing on my downfall, why is you here? That’s really what it’s for. It can be used in different ways.
What’s your favorite lyric on the project?
On “Send The Addy”, I was like, “Punch a hoe out, might as well say I’m clocking in,” I thought that sh*t was so hard. You know when you punch somebody out….yeah.
I like that sh*t. Technically, it’s your debut mixtape; are you starting to think about your debut album at this point yet?
Yes, most definitely. Really what I was waiting on was just getting this mixtape out the way, and now it’s just to really lock in and show people what I’m capable of cause this is just a piece, you know— this is me tapping into my talent really early, but I haven’t even become what I’m supposed to become yet, so I feel like the process is going to be even more beautiful once I really lock in and stuff.
Absolutely, and you’re only 20 years old, you've got so much time to grow.
Yes, that’s so true, that’s so true.
What did you set out to prove with this project?
That I’m that b*tch. That I have different flows, I have good taste in beats, and I also wanted to show that you can be young and still be confident. You don’t have to be insecure. I know a lot of people go through things at this age, but you can carry yourself however you want to carry yourself, so I wanted to show young females or whoever wants to feel that way that you can feel that way, no matter what age you are; 25, 30, you can be 15, 16, 17— whatever. You can always embody confidence, regardless of how you look, or your age.
That’s a beautiful message. On the album— which artists, if any, would you want to work with when the time comes?
I feel like you and Lil Baby would go hard.
Yeah, cause I think his voice is so unique, and a lot of people say my voice is dope, so I think that mixture would be dope as f*ck.
What are you doing to keep busy during the quarantine?
Lately, interviews. I’ve been doing so many interviews and photoshoots, all types of stuff. Just having content come out and sh*t and really just trying to relax, but it’s not really working. But I’m good with it, I’m not complaining or anything.
Once the pandemic is over, what’s the plan? Right now, obviously, it’s hard to tour. You can do virtual concerts, but the setup is tough, so, afterward— what’s going on?
I’m so ready to do a tour. If they can make that happen, I wanna do a tour, I wanna do shows, all types of stuff, meet-and-greets, that’s what my mind is on, getting prepared for doing big shows and sh*t. That’s really what I’m on. I want to connect with my fans more and really show love to them because they’ve been showing me so much love on the internet and I just know so many people want to experience it in human form, so that’s really what I’m waiting on.
What does a Flo Milli performance look like?
A Flo Milli performance is you, with your blunt, having fun, and just in a good mood, you know, bouncing, on some playful sh*t. That’s the vibe I try to give off.
Before the end of the year, what do you want to accomplish career-wise and music-wise?
Before the end of the year, I would love to have another project out. I would love to keep working. I want to hop on now and keep pushing myself to be a better artist every single day. That’s my goal: to get another project out.
Have you started working on it?
Actually, not yet. I’m taking it piece-by-piece, but I think I got a good idea. There are so many opportunities coming now that the tape has dropped, so I’ve been trying to handle that first, but I definitely want to lock in and handle that.
I appreciate you, Flo, thank you so much for taking the time out. I loved the project, I’m excited to see you keep going up.
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me, and be on the lookout for the next tape, or the next project, or whatever.
Definitely. Thank you, Flo.