Backing Down Is Not An Option: Flo Milli Interviewed

Backing Down Is Not An Option: Flo Milli Interviewed

“Learn to love yourself, and to love yourself no matter what…”

Flo Milli’s renegade spirit has had an empowering impact – yet her singular journey hasn’t been easy. Each decision she’s taken has been her own, resulting in 2021’s most explosive rap breakthrough.

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Picture this.

You are getting ready for a night out with your friends – somewhat tipsy - and one of them asks: “Put something lit on!” It’s often guaranteed your playlist will accommodate at least one fired-up track that houses the now-signature tag “Flo Milli shit!” that is assured to give you a quick fix of self-worth and confidence before stepping out in those brand-new heels you brought.

Alabama-born rapper Flo Milli is empowering fans all over the world with her whimsical pen game, fiery prowess, and unapologetic attitude. As we enter a new generation of women that feel liberated and stronger than ever before, it’s artists like Flo Milli that are helping to carry the revived torch for female empowerment and simply doing whatever makes you happy, regardless of what others may think or say. Clash was able to catch up with the rising star over Zoom - mid hair-appointment, may I add - as her soft-spoken and sweet demeanour welcomed the call.

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Since bursting onto the scene in 2019 with her viral track ‘Beef FloMix’, Flo Milli has quickly flown to the forefront of American rap. Inspired by the girls that used to pick on her at school, what was originally a freestyle over Playboi Carti’s track ‘Beef’ turned into a spirited anthem that many people resonated with online. Swiftly getting picked up by a selection of blog and meme pages on Instagram and TikTok, her dream of one day becoming a successful rapper took off in no time at all.

Although overcoming a pandemic at the beginning stages of her career wasn’t in the original plan, that hasn’t stopped her climbing the stairs of success regardless of the trials and tribulations it may have bought, and with that found the silver linings that have helped to shape her music going forward. Having grown up in the South-Eastern state of Alabama, Flo’s infatuation for music and all things creative came naturally from a young age. She recalls: “I grew up in a lot of shows in school, with drama and stuff. It was easy coming into the industry; I was pretty prepared for it all!”

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Following the release of her debut and critically acclaimed mixtape ‘Ho, Why Is You Here?’ last year, of which boasted 12 confidence-oozing tracks that at no moment presented any flash of self-doubt, set the female emcee up nicely as her brash persona took centre throughout. From the stand-out tracks ‘May I’ and anthemic hit ‘In The Party’, a song that brushes any form of hater to the side, “Yeah, dicks up when I step in the party / Yo' main dude wanna feel on my body / And if I take I him, bitch, I won't say I'm sorry” – it’s safe to say Flo Milli is the epitome of ‘bad b energy’.

Filled with controversial yet empowering statements from start to finish, it’s a bundle of riveting, raw, and addictive statements. When asked if there was anything – specifically - she wanted to push with this project Flo comments: “I wanted to emphasise having strength and a voice as a young female. I didn’t want to make everything about boys and instead learn to love yourself, and to love yourself no matter what. You can chase your dreams at a young age, and that’s what I wanted to put across to my listeners”.

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Being in such a male dominated industry can be daunting to some female artists, especially if what you are putting out to the world is as raw and bold as ‘Ho, Why Is You Here?’; whether or not you’re anxious about how people will react, dropping something that authentically represents your true self can be overwhelming. Asked if she was ever apprehensive about dropping the mixtape, she confidently responds: “No, I never felt hesitant or apprehensive as to how people would take it because I’m unapologetically me every day of my life. That goes over into my music, I would never care what anybody else thinks… as long as I approve it, then that’s all that matters”.

Over time female empowerment has become more prevalent than ever, and it’s about time too. Each year more and more female rappers across the world are owning their power and strength and putting it on a pedestal for all to hear, whether you agree with it or not. However, most women in the industry are often looked at as competitors and not friends; in fact, some may see it as a threat when two or more strong women come together as one, and let’s be honest that sucks. What are the first things that come to mind when you think of female empowerment? Strength? Unity? Power? For Flo, it’s about uplifting each other. “The first thing that comes to my mind is Queen Latifah and being able to encourage each other, seeing each other’s light and acknowledging it”.

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Surrounded by strong women her entire life and looking up to the likes of her mother, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, Beyoncé, Shakira, and Rihanna, it was inevitable that Flo’s confidence would shine through. For many young men and women, this isn’t always the case, and is something that can take years to build, so I was curious to know where she draws this energy from. “I’ve built strength over the years as a kid, and growing up around strong women, you have no choice but to be that way. If you don’t love yourself, then nobody will. I have always had that installed in my mind at a young age to always be strong, to be sure about myself, and love what I do. Being my biggest supporter has helped me believe in myself even more,” she says.

“My number one piece of advice would be to not compare yourself to others on social media,” she adds. “I know social media is a big thing in our generation and people of my age tend to do that, looking at whether the other person has more success than you do; I would say do not let that stop you. If anything, let that empower you to do better than your peers. A lot of people get discouraged and don’t pursue things because they aren’t good enough. As women we possess the ultimate superpower and create life! Everyone should always stick to their individuality and move at their own pace to the top.”

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Flo was recently crowned by XXL in their highly awaited annual Freshman Class of 2021. Named alongside the likes of Toosii, Coi Leray, Pooh Shiesty, Blxst, and more, Flo Milli took to the spotlight with her signature cocksure pen game - “How could a broke boy ever play me? / You ain't made shit, God made me / I'm a Bugatti and she a Mercedes” - she welcomes the freestyle with her feisty persona. Standing as one of the key accomplishments in her career thus far, and as we begin to step out of a difficult time and into some form of normality, the hit-maker soaks in all her glory. “I feel really good and accomplished! I know how important XXL is to the culture, I’m so grateful to be a part of it but I feel really confident in it coming out. It’s coming out at a great time, even though the pandemic isn’t 100% over its lightening up. I’m really excited about it!”

A Flo Milli schedule is a busy one; in between going to the studio, making appearances with fans, and being the bad babe she is, it’s the stripped back moments in nature and fun-filled adventures with her close ones that keep her ticking, “I like to do a lot of fun stuff! I like ziplining and being in nature a lot. I like going to the beach and going on walks” – in other words, the normal things a 21-year-old should be doing. As much as being in the spotlight is all fun and games, it’s navigating the balance between being an outgoing “celebrity” and finding comfort spending time alone that her introverted and extroverted personality is still navigating.

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Looking ahead, Flo’s breakout year is set to continue with a brand new project, something she says is an upgraded version of her debut tape. “This project is different from ‘Ho, why is you here?’ because of the versatility of it, I’ve been trying new things but you guys have got to stay tuned to see!”

Stateside rap’s most electrifying newcomer, Flo Milli’s confident empowerment echoes a world that is gradually rediscovering renewal. It’s her time to shine.

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Words: Elle Evans
Photography: Brandon Bowen
Fashion: Jenna Tyson
Creative Direction: Rob Meyers

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