Flo Milli's new album proves the 'Never Lose Me' rising artist's dreams of greatness are coming true

NEW YORK (AP) — Flo Milli always felt different from her peers growing up, believing she was destined for greatness. For her, the writing was always on the walls — and in the stalls.

“In high school, I used to have a lot of girls that used to hate on me. And as a child, I didn’t really know how to deal with that. So, I would talk to my goddad about it. He would… speak life into me,” said the “Never Lose Me” artist. “Before school started, early in the morning, I would go in the stalls and just write everything that I want to be, like ‘I’m that girl,’ or whatever I’m feeling about myself. And then, I would just say it in my head when I would walk through the halls… the more I said it, the more I like became it.”

The Mobile, Alabama, native now has much of the rap world believing it too. Earlier this month, Flo Milli released “Fine Ho, Stay,” her third — and arguably best — studio album. The rising rap star is steadily breaching her way into the conversation of hip-hop’s top female emcees, but she knew it was only a matter of time.

“The power of the tongue, period; I’ve always been taught that is very powerful,” said the 24-year-old, who was soft-spoken during the interview, juxtaposing her flamboyant music persona. “I would speak things into existence, even as a young kid. Everything I have now, I would just say it. And saying it over and over, writing it down just makes it more real because your mind just has to see it through.”

What she’s manifested presently is a 14-track project boasting production from hip-hop super producers such as Juicy J, Bangladesh and ATL Jacob. The “Fine Ho, Stay” title was chosen from a comment on social media after a post of her two previous album title names, “Ho, why is you here?” and “You Still Here, Ho?,” went viral. She thought the poster's suggestion was hilarious.

But what isn't a laughing matter is her music. While the previously released tracks “ Fruit Loop ” and the funky “BGC” don’t appear on the album, she didn’t leave her fans with a musical deficit. She jump-starts the EP with the swaggy, trap-beat led tracks “Understand,” “New Me” featuring Anycia and “Neva” featuring Monaleo, reminiscent of early 2000s Southern rap with updated sonics, showing her boastful attitude and animated vocal presentation.

But when she’s not threating to “hit that ho with a two-piece,” she stretches herself musically and thematically while showcasing her singing ability. The albums biggest record, the melodic “Never Lose Me,” currently sits at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Streaming Songs chart. Milli recently dropped a remix with superstars SZA and Cardi B, while previously released remixes with Lil Yachty and a separate one with R&B crooner Bryson Tiller, both landed in December.

While her aggressive, high-energy records serve their purpose, it’s her vulnerability that gives the album its wings, showing a rarely seen softer side in tracks like “Toast,” the sensual “Edible” with Gunna and “Can’t Stay Mad,” where she emotes, “When you love me like that / The best I ever had / You take me out my attitude / I cannot stay mad at you (Mad at you).”

“It’s kind of hard for me to talk about love and all that, but you know, it’s probably like a little tribute to somebody; I can be nice sometimes,” she coyly joked about the song. “I wanted to show that more on this album, just versatility… I came on the scene as a rapper, but I’ve always sung in the church since a kid. So, it’s really not nothing new to me, but (it is) to other people.”

Inspired by artists like Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne, Flo Milli, born Tamia Monique Carter, burst on the scene in 2019, while still a student at Clark Atlanta University, with “Beef (FloMix)” which went viral on TikTok. Her forward-thinking, self-marketing strategy — paying social media influencers to post snippets of her songs — helped her quickly gain exposure and earn a deal with RCA. Since then, she’s created big records like “Conceited" and “In the Party,” which has amassed more than 34 million YouTube views and was featured on Lah Pat’s “Rodeo” remix which peaked at No. 9 on Billboard’s Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.

While Flo’s priority now is music, she’s not limiting herself to recording studios. She hopes to resume modeling and begin acting. For a young woman who once felt an outsider, she’s become “that girl” she always envisioned, and one that many want to emulate.

“I just feel like I can do anything in the world,” said Flo. “Sometimes, I be in shock. I be like, ’Wait, I gotta own this moment and not try to move on and be like, ‘Ok, I want this, I want that.’ You gotta actually accept and appreciate what you already have and realize that, you know, you used to be praying for this.”


Follow Associated Press journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton at @GaryGHamilton on all his social media platforms.