Getty Image At just 21 years old, Houston rapper Monaleo has been making waves and staying relevant since her 2021...
At just 21 years old, Houston rapper Monaleo has been making waves and staying relevant since her 2021 breakout hit, “Beating Down Yo Block.” The track, which samples Yungstar’s “Knockin Pictures Off Da Wall,” was more than just a good song. It was the start of Monaleo’s year-long streak (and counting) of using her personality, savviness, and talent to stay relevant — sometimes in the most effortless ways.
Next came the unforgiving “Suck It Up,” an unforgiving record that Monaleo uses to mock another woman stealing her man. However, don’t get it twisted as men are also susceptible to Monaleo’s disses and dismissals, which we hear on “We Not Humping.” The latter record was eventually remixed by Flo Milli (a perfect selection for that song), with whom Monaleo formed a tight friendship after its release. Their relationship grew into Monaleo joining Flo for her Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Tour, a run comprised of 20 performances across the country.
The Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Tour came to a close earlier this week, but Uproxx was fortunate enough to catch up with Monaleo earlier this month for a conversation about her relationship with Flo Milli, her recent releases, what makes her so savvy with social media, and what’s next.
How are you enjoying tour so far? Both from the point of it being your first and that you’re performing with Flo Milli?
It’s been a really good experience. As far as the actual tour itself and the people that I’ve been meeting. Being able to meet people that really support me in real life has been a super surreal experience. People have been walking up to me [and] telling me how long they’ve been supporting me and what I’ve helped them through. This sh*t is like super inspiring for me. It’s just a catalyst for me, it just makes me want to impact 100,000 million more people.
Tell me about your friendship with Flo Milli. How did it start and how has it grown over time and through these shows?
Flo is somebody I really, really, really, really love and really, really appreciate. I had always supported her and always loved her and then one day she tweeted me and said something and I was like, “Wow that’s so f*cking dope that she did that.” From there, we just kind of connected via DM. After we started talking via DM, I told her I had “We Not Humping,” [and] that I wanted her to get on [it], but this is before I put it out. I ended up posting a little snippet on Twitter and I was like, “F*ck it, Imma just drop it.” From there, we were thinking about candidates for a remix, I went through a list of a couple of different people, Flo being one of those people. We connected and she thought that the record was perfect for her. We flew her out to Houston and she recorded her verse and then from there, we started to plan the actual music video. We shot the music video in Houston. I got the final cut back and I f*cking hated it, it was terrible, it was awful. I was like damn, I’m about to have the call Flo and I’m about to have to ask this girl to reshoot this music video. This is really going to show me if she f*ck with me or not because that was a lot.
So I reached out to her again, and I was like, “Girl, I just got this music video back and I hate it and I don’t even want to be in your hair bothering you bout this sh*t, but I just honestly want to give this song a fair chance. I just want it to have the opportunity to really be as big as it can be and I don’t think we’ll be able to do that without reshooting this music video.” She was like, “You know what? F*ck it, let’s do it. I totally understand where you’re coming from, I’ve been in the same situation. I’m down. Let’s do it.” So I went back to the drawing board and we reshot it again in LA. She was a really good sport, she was super supportive. Even after the song dropped, she just continued to post it and she was posting it probably more than I was. I was just super surprised at how much of a great sport she was because I know it’s just not easy. It was super dope, so I really love her.
My favorite song to see you perform was “Body Bag,” which together with your “Faneto Freestyle,” was your first pair of new records in a bit. What was behind the short pause, what made now the time to get back at it, and why these records?
It was one of those things [where] it was like, I was taking a pause, but I didn’t realize how big of a f*cking pause I was taking because nothing really slowed down. I was still recording music constantly, still shooting music videos, [and] still flying wherever to do shows, nothing slowed down. I think I just wanted to regroup, I wanted to refocus, and I wanted to pace myself a little bit. I felt like I started to get really caught up in what people wanted to hear from me and what was becoming popular. I was just feeling that pressure, of “Damn, I got to do something now. I gotta drop some now.” So I was moving in the direction of dropping a tape and then came the deadline for the tape, and I was just like, “No, it’s just not the time. I ain’t gonna lie, it’s just not the time.” I have another date in my head, and hopefully, around that time it’ll feel right or it’ll feel as right as it can feel because nothing is ever the perfect time. You don’t get another opportunity to put out the first body of work, so I want to make sure I really pace myself with that.
One thing I can I’ve been impressed with, besides your music, is how savvy you are with social media and how your music and that work so well together. What do you credit this social savviness to?
Just knowing what goes on with social media, being really tapped in, and always being somebody who’s kind of like a sponge, even if it wasn’t applicable at the time, I was always able to absorb different marketing strategies and different tactics. If I was never an artist, I definitely could have been a great marketing manager for somebody because I’m just very familiar with and just very socially aware of what goes on, the way people think, and what people respond better to over other things. Most of the time, it usually works, and not all the time it works but after enough time, it just starts to kind of work for itself. It works on its own because you built up that reputation, you just built up the credibility. So whenever it is time for you to drop something, people are excited and they’re anticipating it because they know it’s gonna be of quality or they know that they’re going to be entertained in some way, shape, form, or fashion. That’s what I really be trying to tap into: making sure I keep people engaged and entertained.
You mentioned in a past interview that you really wanted to sing at first, so with your transition to rap, what’s really made you fall in love with it and keep at it?
It’s a confidence booster for me. It really does instill this spirit, this attitude of “I really can’t be f*cked with.” I really get to flex my lyricism and writing skills that I acquired throughout all my years of going to school and to college – I get to apply them. All the years I spent writing super good f*cking essays, it’s kind of like the same thing with rap. It’s like writing an essay, I just pick a thesis and prove my point throughout the entire essay, or throughout the entire song rather. It’s the nerd in me; the geek in me is super into being able to articulate certain points and do it in an entertaining and funny way and do it in a way that people can laugh but still respect the artistry and the craft.
You’ve been a huge proponent of mental health since day one, how have you maintained your mental health throughout this tour and just overall as you continue to become more and more successful?
It’s definitely been a journey trying to find the balance between working hard and also giving myself the necessary breaks that I need and taking intentional breaks. I feel like I just take breaks when I feel like, “Okay, this is too f*cking much.” But even in the midst of me taking a break up, I never really give myself time to just breathe, dissect, digest, and really allow myself to calm down. It’s been a learning process for sure, but I’m definitely getting a lot better with just taking time for myself and creating boundaries with the people around me, my team, my family, and whoever else; making sure that always allot some time to myself to really debrief, meditate, breathe, [or] take a nap. Whatever it is I feel like I need to, I always allot myself that time while still making time to be on time for the sh*t that I’m supposed to be on time for – hardly, barely for real, I barely be making it. I don’t know how, it just always works out.
What’s next for you after you wrap up the tour?
Getting into a new pocket of music so that I don’t get to compartmentalize and boxed into this category that I don’t really want to be a part of. Even though I do make a certain type of music or I’ve made songs that people have heard that fit in this category of music, that’s not all I have and that’s not who I am as an artist.
So getting ready to switch the content of my music and make it a little bit more intentional now that I’ve created the moments and built up the fan base to where I now have the eyes on me. So, for lack of a better phrase, the kooky out-of-the-box sh*t, the crazy wild sh*t I be saying about music — I feel like that, that’s not a gimmick or a joke or anything like that — I’m just kind of moving away from that. Just getting a little more intentional and meaningful so that much of my inner feelings and my true thoughts can be expressed and displayed and people can appreciate me as an artist outside of the type of music that they’ve only heard me so I’m just getting ready to switch up the content of my music.
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