Photo Credit: Munachi Osegbu
First Look Friday: Flo Milli Showcases Her Star Potential on 'Ho, Why Is You Here?'
As part of our First Look Friday series, we spoke to Flo Milli about her Ho, Why Is You Here? project and what exactly constitutes a fuckboy glow.
Before the spring of 2019, Flo Milli was a humble, albeit high-achieving, Alabama teenager with her sights set on a B.A. in Business Administration. Then her remix of Playboi Carti’s “Beef” exploded on TikTok; now she’s signed to RCA and no one can shut up about her.
Flo’s debut mixtape, which was originally conceived as an EP, is called Ho, Why Is You Here? It was released last month, and it's very good. Everything people loved about Gangsta Boo and La Chat, Flo Milli has in abundance: she’s precocious, brassy and tougher than the Crimson Tide’s offensive line, with a mockingly asymmetrical, mean-girl smirk. That’s her face at rest, anyway; it’s a different story when she’s pissed.
Ho, Why Is You Here? starts slow but gathers momentum with a warped fervor. If, like Flo, you were in diapers when “Baby Mama” came out, this tape will catch you up to speed; it’s a good approximation of mid-period Three 6 Mafia, from the chanted, evangelical choruses right down to the brusquely barreling double-time raps.
Flo’s music is littered with oblique references to her father — a gentle giant from the sounds of it — but little is known about her upbringing. We do know this: as a tween, she gathered inspiration from trawling Instagram and soaking up Nicki Minaj’s sparkly, sequin-embellished performances on BET. Before long she was making music with high school pals. But it was in her job at a strip-mall cell phone store that Flo made her biggest impression. You see, Flo had a voice that carried farther than others. Her freestyles at work made her the bane of the tax preparers next door.
Even with the release of her debut project, and the flood of new press she's gotten, it’s been a rough few months for Flo, who appears to have been hounded into virtual hiding by a crazed ex-boyfriend. She still declines to disclose her whereabouts. (The most she’ll say is that she lives in neither Mobile nor Los Angeles.) Still, she was in good spirits at the time of this interview, giggly and far bubblier than she has any right to be under the circumstances.
As part of our First Look Friday series, Okayplayer spoke to Flo Milli about her debut mixtape, the blurry line between truth and fiction, the theory of catharsis, and what exactly constitutes a fuckboy glow.
In listening to Ho, Why is You Here? I’m struck by how brutally direct and forthcoming you are. On “May I,” for example, you say, “I’m not your bestie, I’m not your sis, I’m not the one.” You don’t make the slightest effort to sugarcoat things.
When I started rapping, it was literally an outlet for me to express myself with things I couldn’t really say. ‘Cause I started taking off with rapping in high school and, like, with me being a straight-A student, I was smart with my aggression. So I would say the brutal honesty comes natural.
“Making you mad is my specialty.” That’s a great line from “Beef FloMix.” How much pleasure, if any, do you derive from pissing people off? Is it fun for you?
When it comes to people who deserve it, I definitely enjoy that. It’s about the energy you put out. I’m a pretty fair person, but if you disrespect me, you definitely gon’ regret it — and I’m speaking in general. But I do enjoy justice being served.
The new tape reminds me somewhat of Three 6 Mafia, with the minor-key pianos and thundering 808s and stuff. Growing up in Alabama, how often were you exposed to Three 6 Mafia — or Crime Mob, for that matter?
Hell yeah! That’s what my siblings and I grew up on. Especially being from the South, all those big hits, that’s all we really listened to, whether it was karaoke with my family or just watching 106 & Park and Music Choice. Back in my childhood, we was heavily involved in listening to that.
Photo Credit: Sarah Morris/Getty Images for BET
When I heard “My Attitude” for the first time, I thought, “This girl is Gangsta Boo by way of Rico Nasty.” Who are some female rappers you admire?
Yeah, you’re, like, right on the head with the mix that I was inspired by. I have to pay homage to Nicki Minaj because that’s who inspired me to pick up the pen; I was heavily influenced by watching her on 106 & Park in the fifth grade. And Rico as well. I always think about how dope she is as a full artist, and how lyrical she is.
I never really thought about Crime Mob, but now that you mention it, I’m gon’ go back and really do my research and analyze how they rap. ‘Cause nobody told me that before.
Check out “At the Bar,” Diamond’s song with Juicy J and Jackie Chain.
I love Diamond! Especially “Rock Yo’ Hips.” I remember rapping that in elementary school.
One of the strongest tracks, I think, is “19."
“19” is great because it’s got a really catchy harpsichord loop. Who made that beat?
[It's Shane Parker.] I actually know him personally; he’s a friend of mine from my hometown. He’s actually a singer, and he doesn’t even produce like that, but he made that dope beat and I just had to hop on it. I’m actually surprised you like it, because, you know, I didn’t think it would catch people’s ears, but I love it because it has such a melodic feel.
Talk to me about “Weak.” It’s a terrific song, and a pretty ingenious concept.
It was so dope, man! I was with J White in the studio, and he was actually FaceTiming with a member of SWV. I can’t remember which one, but when I asked him who he was talking to and he showed me, I was like, "Oh, shit!" Then I started singing, “I get so weak…” We all just started singing it, and J White literally cleared [the sample] right there. That’s how the song came about.
Another thing that’s noteworthy about “Weak.” You call out certain guys in your life by name. Was that you exercising creative license? Or do you really know these guys?
Let me give you the background of that story. A lot of things on that song had to be changed, but, like, Maleek is a real person. I had to tell him beforehand that I was using his name. Like, "don’t get mad!" I had my exes in the song at first, but then a little incident happened. There was an issue about using my ex’s name. I couldn’t be accurate because of people’s sensitivity.
Not to get too personal, but is this the same ex you alluded to on Twitter a few weeks ago?
Yes, it’s the same guy.
You do seem to have a natural, instinctive chemistry with J White Did It. Would you consider collaborating with him on a full-length album?
You know what? I really admire J White, and his roster is so inspiring, so I would not mind working with him for real — like on a whole record. Because he has a vibe that’s so dope and an energy that’s unmatched.
When you were making “Not Friendly,” did you sense you had a classic on your hands?
You know what’s so crazy? I remember the day I was in the studio making that song. Mentally, I was going through the worst time of my life — and if you pay attention to that song, I was so aggressive because I was angry. I wasn’t thinking, like, ‘This is a hit.’ I was only concerned with getting my anger out.
It was so bad that day that my engineer said, "If you want to come back when you’re feeling better, you can." But I thought, "You know what? Fuck it. Let me get in the booth." And I just went ham. I tried to be as angry as possible. But I never expected it to get the attention that it did, you know, because there was not very much thought put into it. It was just me speaking to how I felt and how girls genuinely feel.
Last question: what is a fuckboy glow?
So a fuckboy glow is when...you were pretty much in a relationship, but you were dealing with a fuckboy, somebody who probably didn’t treat you right or who tried to play you in any type of way. And when you leave them, you just start to glow up! You don’t have to glow up immediately, but over time you get better in all aspects of life.
M.T. Richards is a Chicago-based freelance writer. His work has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Billboard, Spin, Consequence of Sound, Brooklyn magazine, City Pages and other publications.