Caught Up In The Rapture: Flo Milli

Caught Up In The Rapture: Flo Milli

Caught Up In The Rapture: Flo Milli

The "In the Party" rapper connects with certified legend Eve to discuss the current state of Hip Hop and maintaining authenticity within their craft

The "In the Party" rapper connects with certified legend Eve to discuss the current state of Hip Hop and maintaining authenticity within their craft

Photography: Conor Cunningham

Styling: Anna Trevelyan

Text: Eve

With a moniker like Flo Milli, one should expect nothing less than a flawless flow, razor-sharp lyricism, and an unrivaled confidence. Since bursting onto the scene a few years ago, the 22-year-old has been making major headwaves with mega-viral, hit tracks like “In The Party,” “Beef FloMix,” and “Conceited.” And following the release of her debut studio album, You Still Here, Ho? Flo has undoubtedly proved herself to be one to watch in the rap game.

Ahead of her North American tour the rising rapstress chats with boundary defying pioneer Eve about how the age of social media can make (or break) an artist, being intentional with the projects you release into the world, and inspiring audiences with lyricism and assuredness.

Read the exclusive interview below! 

Clothing and shoes Versace, necklace and rings Personal Fears, chain Chris Habana, earrings stylist’s own

V MAGAZINE: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. To kick it all off, what made you each want to pursue rap? And who were some of your early earliest influences? 

FLO MILLI: When I was growing up, I was an expressive child. And I'm from a small city, there's not really much out there. My favorite hobbies were dancing, modeling, singing, and rap. I fell in love with rap when I was 11 years old. I used to have a journal and I would write songs. Also seeing other female rappers in the game made me want to rap even more. It really inspired me to get into it. 

EVE: Yeah, I agree. I feel like I was the same. I was into everything, like I wanted to do everything. I used to write poems when I was younger, and I was always around music because my dad was a DJ. He used to play records all the time, and we used to have block parties. And hip-hop was my aunt’s thing–that's all she listened to. So I think I got introduced to hip-hop that way. I started singing in the choir and then as I got older, in high school, I was like, "Nah, I want to rap. I need more attention." Not too many girls rapped when I was coming up, so I was like, "Yeah, I want to start rapping. I want more attention." And then I started, and it stuck. But I was the same when I saw female rappers; especially in such a male-dominated world, I loved the way they held their own and had the right attitude, but still looked like women. They weren't trying to be men. I always thought that was great. 

FM: That's so crazy how we kind of grew up the same way–in the church and in the choir. I remember having to be in church more than anywhere because everybody knows when you're in the choir, you have to go to church during the week after school for practice. And I think that's what drove me to not be as nervous in the spotlight, you know? Because we were like forced into the spotlight, so we're used to it. But I agree, the female rappers that were in it always made it look fun, so fly, and now, in our own way, we're killing it.

V: And as you both mention how rap is predominantly a male-dominated genre. Can you talk about your experiences coming into the industry and some of the obstacles that you faced? How did you get around it? 

E: Once I left high school, I kind of knew. I was like, "This is it, I don't want to go to college. I definitely want to pursue music." So I would go to New York by myself and hand out mixtapes and hang out in offices. Most of the executives that I met were great, but sometimes, I’d meet a producer where it would go from like, "Yo, you're dope. Come record in my studio" to being like, "Yo, why don't we hang out?" Or "Can I take you out?" And for years, it was really, really frustrating having to trust guys, because usually, most of the people I met, all the producers, were men. And then, thankfully, I met the right people that really believed in me. But I feel like I always had the attitude, especially because all that stuff happened to me in the beginning. I was like, “I'm going to hustle just as hard or harder than these dudes so that I gain the respect for who I am as an MC, not for how I dress or how I look.” I wanted to be respected for that–my lyrics, my skill. 

FM: Yeah, I can see that. I think that's a dope thing to hear about yourself over any other compliment. Because for example, a pretty girl, she's always used to hearing, "Oh, you're so pretty." Of course, that compliment would move her, but when she knows it's something inside of her, that's so dope. It’s so fascinating to me to hear you explain how you came up because I came up a little different, well, a lot of different. I didn't have the networking or even the city. I'm from a really small city, so we don't have that.

E: Wait, where are you from again? 

FM: I'm from Mobile, Alabama. It's way at the bottom of Alabama, close to the border. Coming into it, I don't really remember dealing with any male pushback, but I remember in high school, people knew I would rap, and there were other guys at my school that would rap as well. And I remember hearing on the bus one day, somebody was like, "Oh yeah, she raps in the back, the girl in the back." And some dude yelled out that he was a rapper too, and he was like, "Don't nobody want to hear that." I remember how that made me feel, and that drove me to be even more hungry and to prove a point.

E: I went through the same thing in high school. Guys used to say the same thing, "Oh, you rap? For real?” And I'm like, "Yeah, I rap," and I used to battle all the time.

FM: I love that you used to battle them. (Laughs) That's so cool.

V: I'm curious to see how two different generations of rappers go about creating. Flo, you have more access to social media when you were coming up, whereas for you, Eve, that didn't really exist when you were coming up. So I'm curious to see how that affects your creation process. Can you speak about your process for conceptualizing your music and how the current landscape of social media?

FM: I feel like it's all about perspective because, in my opinion, I feel like Eve had it better in some ways. The way I look at it is, social media has its pros, but it also has its cons. When I say cons, growing up as an artist in this industry right now, of course, we've always had critics, but now we can see the critics more. Even though there’s always been competition, now we have to look at our competition in their face. And sometimes social media can have this light painted around it where you might think someone has a perfect life, but in reality, they're just showing you their good moments. They're not showing you their lows, so that could trigger people's insecurities. 

I think that's one of the struggles we deal with. And also, back in the day, it was different. People would go to shows, and they would actually enjoy the artist. They would actually enjoy the moment. Now everybody has their phone up. I don't think we are fully connecting [as artists and fans] did back in the day—our connection today is more digital to an extent. I’m also realizing one of the [drawbacks] of this is that fans start to think that we're so accessible. [They think] that all they gotta do is post something [negative] and tag us to get our attention. It doesn't hold value to me because with a real star, you're not gonna be able to get access to [them]. You're not gonna be able to disrespect them and get likes for it, you know?

E: No, I agree with you. I do think about that too. Musically, there are definitely pros. I came up with a label situation, so I appreciate the fact that I had to do shows and I had to gain an audience. And when people came to the shows, they were connected to the show. But the one thing that I love about your generation is that you didn't have to rely so heavily on a major label or wait on certain things, you could cultivate your own audience. But at the same time, I am definitely happy that I didn't have social media because it's pressure and it's a lot. I made a lot of mistakes in my life, and I’m so happy that shit was not documented. 

I'm so happy that I didn't have millions of people seeing every moment of my growth. And not that mine wasn't, because people saw me grow, but it's different. I think it's a different level. So I can appreciate the fact that, especially with the people out there now–who are the trolls trying to come at you just because they think it'll get them likes or get them followed, I think that's a lot of pressure.

FM: It's a lot of pressure. And I'm not trying to list all the cons because there's good things about social media as well. Social media has definitely changed my life. Being from a small town, we don't have any music scene at all. All I had was my phone and Wi-Fi, so I had to use YouTube, and I had to use my beats, and my phone. I had an Instagram account, and that's what got me to where I am. But also I think they put pressure on us as artists now to make music so fast. And I think they don't really give us time to really experience life and have something to talk about. Everything is so instant now, everybody wants instant gratification. Even as artists, we've grown up on social media. I remember when I was 15 and getting 40,000 views, I felt like if I didn’t get enough attention or views, then that meant bad work and that's not really healthy.

E: No, I get it. It sucks because social media is such a necessity when you're in this business. You have to have it, it has to be there. 

FM: Right. I also think things are always changing. Who knows where the music scene is going to be in the next 10 years? Because we probably couldn't have predicted how it would've been the way it is now. 

E: Definitely not! 

FM: Yeah, I think it's just continuing to change.

V: And you both briefly talked about experiencing things and then using that to inform the way you rap and the themes that you explore. So I'm curious, what are some messages you’re trying to convey through your lyrics and the songs you create? 

FM: When I first started making music, I made it for myself–not for fans. Because when I first started, I didn't have fans. So once I realized the effects of my music, then I started being more intentional. I always try to aim for my music to be like affirmations. I want it to make me feel good, so if it makes me feel good, I know it'll make the listener feel good. It's kind of like a high, not like a drug, but when they listen to this song or this album, they're going to feel a certain type of feeling, you know? That's what I aim for with my music.

EVE: Yeah, I think that's great. I would agree with that in the sense that when I think about the music that I actually listen to, I try to emulate that whenever I go to the studio. Because music is energy as well, and I'm really big on energy. I don't let a lot of things into my head, my spirit, my soul that doesn't feel right. So for me, when I make music, I feel the same way as you. If it feels good to me, then I'm hoping it'll feel good to the person that's listening. Because you only really want to give out good vibes, you want to make people feel good. You want to make people feel hopeful or happy. 

When I was younger–like you said, I didn't have fans or anything for my first album. I made music for me, my girlfriends that I hung out with, and my homies that I hung out with, and thankfully it resonated. And then, as you said, when you see how it resonates, you're like, "Oh, okay." You become the voice of the regular girl that lives up the street from you, and that's a big deal, we become that voice of millions of girls and women. So that's a big deal, it's a big responsibility. 

FM: Yeah, it really is because I look at it like, God is choosing us to be the ones. He's trusting us to be the ones to get the message across, whatever that message is. Like you said, there are girls out there who probably have been through the same exact things as us, but they don't have the ability to be able to express it or put it into words, or may not even know how to. But we have that talent, and so when they hear it, we're giving them hope, or we're helping them heal whatever issues they're going through. Maybe our confidence that we're putting in our music is helping because it's going to show the next woman like, "Oh, if Eve or Flo Milli can feel like this, I could feel like that too."

E: Yup, one hundred percent. 

V: And from your perspective, what do you think the future of rap will look or sound like? 

E: I hope it's more female. There are tons of amazing females coming up, it's been happening consistently in the last few years, which is great. But I feel like it still needs to be more, I still think there are too many men in the room. That's the only way I can say it. And that's fine, but I do it's not a balance. It's still not a balance yet. So I hope the future of rap is more female. 

FM: Yeah, definitely. Until we get to that balance, I feel like that's when the disrespect will stop when it comes to men feeling like we don't even have a right to be in this field. 

V: Is there anything in particular that you’re excited about relating to rap? 

E: I'm excited to meet you, Flo Milli. It's nice to be able to have a conversation even though we don't see each other face to face. I don't always get a chance to do this, I've been in the business a long time, so I'm happy to be a part of this conversation with you. It's nice to speak to you and talk to you because I live in London now—and what's funny is there are so many female rappers, more female rappers in London than there are in America, which is crazy to me. So I get to meet some from over this side, but I haven't gotten a chance to have conversations, especially with the newer generation in America. So it's a pleasure to meet you, and I'm excited for you.

FM: Thank you, and I'm actually honored to be on this call. I think you've done so much for female rap. I was just watching the "My Chick Bad" video before we got on the call.

E: Oh, wow! 

FM: I remember the time when this came out, and I just loved every bit of it. I really love the way you rap, and your style. I just think it's so dope.

E: Thank you.

FM: And by the way, my mom loves you.

E: Aw, tell her I say hi! 

FM: But yes, I'm so excited to talk with you, and hopefully, one day, I can meet you. That would be an honor. I'm just so happy we were able to connect on this call. 

E: Definitely! 

Below, stream Caught Up in the Rapture—Volume 1, Part 2—curated by Flo Milli and Eve.

Credits: Editorial Direction & Casting: Czar Van Gaal Hair: Khalea Belle  Makeup: Corey Rodriguez Manicure: Britney Tokyo Editors: Matthew Velasco & Kala Herh Producer: Felix Cadieu  / Photobomb Production Special thanks: Tommy Hilfiger / The Oriel


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