“I Need to Go Fall In Love or Something”: Flo Milli and Gunna Tap In

flo milli

All Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories (worn throughout) Coach.

Flo Milli isn’t going anywhere. After blowing up on SoundCloud in 2018 thanks to her savvy Insta-marketing skills, the Alabama-born rapper was signed to RCA, and has been topping charts and slaying fits ever since. This spring, the 24-year-old stunner is back with Fine Ho, Stay, a raucous album that has earned her a new generation of fans, and an upcoming tour with Gunna—who called up Floski to talk self-promotion, studio time, and having empathy for haters. 


GUNNA: What’s up, Flo?

FLO MILLI: What’s up, Gunna?

GUNNA: Got a few questions for you, know what I’m saying.

FLO MILLI: Okay. I’m ready. 

GUNNA: First question, what’s been pushing your grind these days? 

FLO MILLI: Honestly, me trying to overcome my old self. Just knowing where I came from. I don’t want to sound cocky, but I’m pushing my goals, for real, for real. Me challenging myself every day to be better than the girl I was the day before.

GUNNA: Okay.

FLO MILLI: I feel like for my family, my little sister, my mom, my big sister, I can be that example to show them anything is possible. So that motivates me.

GUNNA: How did you carve out your sound? 

FLO MILLI: I listened to a lot of different shit coming up, from pop, to neo soul, to rap, hip hop, all that. I feel like I was forced into that, because that’s all what my mom would listen to. So my music is like a mixture of everything that I grew up listening to, and I would hear at the cookouts, or parties, or family functions. Where I’m from, we didn’t really have a music scene. All I had was 106 & Park, or YouTube, or whatever was popping at the time. So that’s where I was diving in, obsessing over everything, and learning what I like. It just naturally became me.

GUNNA: Cool. Next question. What strategic move do you credit the most for your success at the rap game?

FLO MILLI: Ooh. I would credit myself on how I came into it, because I started writing music at nine, but I started rapping at 11 or 10. So it wasn’t until I was 16 years old, where I actually was like, “I want to pursue this for real.” I started working at jobs and saving up money to go to the studio. Mind you, I only got 200, 300 dollars at the most for my check. I couldn’t afford no beat, so I would just steal a beat from YouTube, make a video to it, like 30 seconds, me rapping it in my room. And then I would take half of my check, go to the studio, record it, and then I would take the other half of my check and I would invest in people who had a million followers, just famous dancers, or influencers, or whatever. I would be like, alright, “How much you charge to post my video for two days?” And then they’ll be like, “Oh, this is 100 dollars,” or whatever. So then once I posted the video and I got all the attention I wanted from it, then I would drop a song on SoundCloud. That’s how I built myself up. My first song got 20,000 listens, so that’s when I knew, like, “I got to keep doing this.” 

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GUNNA: That’s hard, the way you did that. 

FLO MILLI: Yeah, that’s how I got discovered, for real. Once that song blew up on SoundCloud, then labels started reaching me, and then it was just up from there.

GUNNA: So coming from Mobile, Alabama, how did it make you approach the industry, just seeing how, like, “Okay, people from Mobile don’t really get the look like they supposed to.”

FLO MILLI: I definitely had to approach it differently because I didn’t have no example. I knew I was already different from the jump, because I believed in myself and I knew, like, “I don’t care how hard I got to go, I’m going to make it.” I was just on some shit where it was like, “Let me pay attention and see what’s trending.” And I would study everything. I could gauge any artist that was going to blow up, I’d be like, “This person going to pop,” and then they would pop. And I think that’s how I got to know what people wanted. I knew what type of time they was on. I feel like every two years shit changes. You could be different, but you got to also know, like—

GUNNA: What’s in.


GUNNA: We got to be tapped in.

FLO MILLI: For sure. Because I realized you can be a certain artist this year, but you got to grow up one day, because your fans are going to grow up. When I was 19, my fans ain’t the same 16-year-olds or whatever age they was. They growing up, they living life experiences, just like me. So I got to be real instead of trying to stick to something that I already know. Like, “Nah, you got to tap in, be vulnerable and speak the real, because everybody else might be going through the same shit, but they don’t know how to express it.” So that’s what people want. They want realness.

GUNNA: I feel that. Okay. The next question. What did you learn during the making of your first album? Because transitioning from singles to full projects, it’s a tough one.

FLO MILLI: Yeah. It was a lot of pressure. I was a new artist and I didn’t know it was that many people watching me. Because yeah, it was the middle of COVID. I didn’t really get to experience it for real. So I was just going with the flow. I really took my time with it, more than I probably should have. I finished it literally days before we put it out. And when I dropped it, it was really, really big and I was not expecting that. 

GUNNA: Yeah. I know that feeling where you don’t know, but you know. 

FLO MILLI [Laughs] Yeah. I really believe in taking risks, because you never know. You might fall, but at least you can live with the fact that you took that risk. My story is a little crazy of how I got signed, but we can talk about that.

GUNNA: Yeah, we’ll get into that, too. So you give confidence, for sure. What is your strategy for handling criticism?

FLO MILLI: Damn, that’s a real good question because for a long time I ain’t have no strategy. I would just really tweak out because before the fame, I’m the type to pop back at you, and it’s probably going to be the lowest of low. But I learned I can’t do that now that I’m a public figure. [Laughs] Now I see, “All right, you not a regular person, so people going to say and do shit to get a reaction out of you because you chill.” So now I’m like, “Y’all’s just some sad ass hos.” I changed my perspective of it. 

GUNNA: You changed your perspective now when you see criticism, you just like, “It’s whatever. It’s chill.”

FLO MILLI: I ain’t going to sit here and act like I’m just immune to anything. But I now see it as projection. I think about like, “If somebody’s trying to pull you down, it’s because they already below you.” And then I also think about it like, “Okay, you are projecting towards me because I’m a mirror for you.” When people are unhappy with themselves, they just find a person to dump that on. Now I’m like, “Oh, it’s you that’s the fucking problem. Not me.” But also I do believe some criticism is fine as long as you not trying to tear a motherfucker down.

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GUNNA: I get that. Okay, walk me through how you lock in and create a banger.

FLO MILLI: Damn, it really depends on how I’m feeling that day. My process used to be real crazy before I even got signed. When I lived with my mom, she would not like me playing music loud as fuck in her house. So I was like, I’m finna just blast this shit in the car. So I found this little hiding spot behind my old job I used to work at the movies. Nobody was there early in the morning, so I would get up at 6:00 in the morning, 7:00 in the morning, drive to this hiding spot, and blast my music. And I would just be writing all the time. I felt like I needed that space to be weird or say some shit and up and fuck up, and not feel like I’m being judged. And then once I started getting in studios, it was a hard transition, because I always used to cook up at home and I ain’t have enough money for nothing but two hours. But then I just grew into loving being in the studio. I just listen to beats, start freestyling.

GUNNA: Got that. Okay, cool. What do you do when you hit a creative block or writer block? 

FLO MILLI: I try to deny it, because I’m an in-denial person. Anything I don’t like, I just act like it don’t exist until it go away. But anytime I feel it now, I don’t panic. I just go experience more life, because I’m like “Alright, it’s something I need to see or get.” And I get signs from anything, for real. Because when I started writing music in high school, my school ain’t have windows. So all of my ideas came from all the posters around the room. So I know how to make something out of nothing. I might just go on a drive and look out the window or some shit and get inspiration from that. But when I’m feeling like that, I just need to go experience life. I need to go fall in love or something.

GUNNA: Yeah, you just go do something. You got to go out and just live a little bit.


GUNNA: Okay, next question is, how does your fashion reflect in your music identity?

FLO MILLI: It reflects kind of the same way how I create, if I’m feeling like Dirty Floana today, then I’m going to just be her. I haven’t been feeling like her in a minute, but she gonna come out soon. [Laughs]

GUNNA: How often does she come out?

FLO MILLI: She creeps up on you a little bit. You ain’t never going to expect her. She come in the wintertime, though. I’m not going to lie.

GUNNA: How she coming? What’s her aesthetic?

FLO MILLI: Dirty Floana is a dirty bitch. She is very grimy. She’s very revengeful. She don’t play no games and she’s a very cunty bitch, very sexy, very sensual, very alluring. That’s her vibe.

GUNNA: Dirty Floana, man.

FLO MILLI: [Laughs] But right now I’ve been feeling like I’m Floski. 

GUNNA: That’s dope, you’re different, because you got different ways and different styles and that reflects in the music too. How do you recharge? You got any must-do activities when you off the clock? 

FLO MILLI: On my off days, I definitely need to have a spa day, get my nails done, facial, all that stuff. But also I really enjoy having fun. I’m a big kid. If I could just have fun for the rest of my life, I would.

GUNNA: You spoke about building a legacy. What’s the main impact you want to have on rap?

FLO MILLI: I just want to bring good vibes, but also realness, relatability, and timeless music. I feel like everybody deserves to feel good about themselves and I want to make something that somebody can press play, and they just put them in a good mood, or I make them laugh or something. I just want to breathe good vibes. And also showing young girls that you can become anything you want. You can really follow your dreams and it come true. I just want people to believe in themselves and all that good shit.

GUNNA: Cool. What’s been your toughest lesson learned in the industry?

FLO MILLI: Damn, I have a lot that’s running through my head. I will say that one of my lessons learned is make sure whatever I’m doing, I want to do it, and that I’m not just floating with life, and letting it take me anywhere. Being intentional with where I’m putting my energy and all that. Another thing I learned is this industry can be grinding, so just staying true to who I am and not letting certain shit change me. I learn shit every day, for real.

GUNNA: That’s good. Next question, how did remixing a Playboi Carti beat on YouTube set the stage for your breakthrough in the industry?

FLO MILLI: That shit was so crazy. I got fired that day when I wrote that song. I don’t even want to talk about it, but it’s crazy.

GUNNA: Yeah, we’ll talk about that another time.

FLO MILLI: [Laughs] But after that I went home and I remember low-key feeling disappointed, but I was just like, “Fuck it, we ball.”

GUNNA: That’s cool.

FLO MILLI: That song by Playboi Carti, I used to listen to it all the time. I used to make songs to beats that I liked. So I was just listening to it and in my head I was like, “What if this song blow up?” I remember not wanting to write, because I low-key was just annoyed that day, but something just told me to keep writing. So I wrote that and then I made a video to it. I didn’t pay nobody to promote it. That song, people was just like, “You need to drop this right now.” And I remember seeing them comments, and I never dropped it for two months. And then one day randomly, I just went to the studio and I was like, “Fuck, I need a name.” And that’s how I came up with Flo Milli, because now I was starting to drop music, for real. But the song was on SoundCloud for six months at maybe 20,000 views, and as soon as I broke up with my boyfriend and cut everybody off in my life that was just not on that type of time, it started blowing up.

GUNNA: See what happen when you cut people off? Learn they not supposed to be around you. [Laughs] Okay. Next question, growing up in Mobile, did you listen to your Jill Scott?

FLO MILLI: Yes, I did.

GUNNA: And you listened to Thug, right?


GUNNA: So growing up with influences like those two, those two diverse sounds, how did that shape you? 

flo milli

FLO MILLI: I would digest everything in their music, and it just happened that way because my mom would listen to it all the time, and then me and my sister would listen to Thug. I guess I adapted some of the melodies, or just the way they approach it, like even when it comes to his ad libs or Jill Scott, her rawness, her being vulnerable, but also not giving a fuck and being so free. I guess I see a little bit of myself in that.

GUNNA: Earlier in your career you invested heavily in studio time and promoting your music, like you just told us how you used to pay people to promote your music. How crucial was the grassroots to approach the initial success? 

FLO MILLI: When I went to jail, I was letting shit happen. I’m coming from childhood, into adulthood, into fame at the same time. So I had to really change my mindset. When I moved to Atlanta, that’s when I was like, “I got to make moves on my own.” 

GUNNA: How have you managed the pressure that come with being in the spotlight so suddenly, because everything came so quick for you?

FLO MILLI: I don’t even know. 

GUNNA: [Laughs]

FLO MILLI: I guess putting god first because I feel like he wouldn’t bring me anywhere where I wasn’t prepared for. I remember every time I was about to go to a new grade, like in high school, I would get anxious, like, “What if it’s too hard?” And then every time I got in that grade, it was just the same. So I look at life like that. Like, “Obviously, wherever I’m at, I’m meant to be here. And I obviously got what it takes.” But it is a lot. I do get overstimulated a lot, and sometimes that’s when I just be like, “Do not disturb,” until I’m ready to talk again.

GUNNA: And that pretty much sums up our energy.

FLO MILLI: That was a good interview, though.

GUNNA: I had some good questions, right?

FLO MILLI: Yeah, best interview, for real, for real.

GUNNA: Yeah. You heard that. Y’all got that on record? 


Hair: Ricky Wing.

Makeup: Corey Rodriguez using Danessa Myricks Beauty.

Nails: Karen Jimenez using Dr. Hauschka at OPUS Beauty.

Photography Assistant: Andrew Friendly.

Fashion Assistant: Coco Emery.

Retouching: Camerin Stoldt.

Production Assistant: Cecilia Alvarez Blackwell.

Location: XIX Studios.