The rapper Flo Milli burst onto the scene in 2019, when she was just 18, with “Beef FloMix,” her bombastic remix of Ethereal and Playboi Carti’s track “Beef.” Like many of the breakout hits of the moment, the song first gained traction on TikTok, where users borrowed some of her brash confidence for their own videos. Now 21 years old, the Mobile, Alabama native born Tamia Monique Carter has a mixtape, Ho, Why Is You Here?, and a new single, “Roaring 20s,” under her belt, counts fellow Alabama native Chika among her fans, and shows no signs of slowing down. In an interview for W’s annual music issue, the rapper makes the case for unapologetic confidence.
Before your “Beef FloMix” was a hit, you were in college and were dabbling in music. When did you realize you were becoming a star?
I started going to a studio when I was, like, 16. When my song “Beef FloMix” started blowing up, I was like, I’m here to stay; the girls need to get prepared. People were making mood edits, and other celebrities would post them, so it got traction on TikTok. I’ve been wanting to rap since I was 9 years old, so it’s been a lifelong dream. But it took me a long time to feel like it was working.
A certain audacity comes out in your music. Were you always like that?
I come from a household full of women. We used to argue a lot. When you’re around women all your life, you adapt to the attitudes. The energy I’m bringing is like, How dare you, because I’m that bitch. [Laughs] And it’s because I’ve always been around it. I had to be strong, because in high school, it was hard to accept that I had a lot of confidence—it would trigger people’s insecurities. But to me, I don’t give a fuck.
Which line of yours are you most impressed by?
“See, you may not like me, but I’m still getting money, bitch.” [Laughs] That’s my favorite one, ’cause that’s the mood every day.
What was your original career plan?
It was always rapping, but I also wanted to act. Me and my older sister would rap in my room for fun. And of course, I grew up in a household where my mom loved music too, so it came natural to me. I was a big fan of Shakira. Gwen Stefani. Fergie. I did a talent show when I was 9 or 10, to “Fergalicious.” I was very much into that type of music—prissy, but still attitude-y.
Do you worry about being too pop, or do you not focus on genres?
I think about how I can reinvent myself, but I don’t box myself into one thing. It’s cool to try new things and see what my range is. I’m gonna always think about what I find good first. And if I like it, I know somebody else is gonna like it.
You released an album titled Ho, Why Is You Here? in summer 2020. So, why are you here?
[Laughs] That was cute. I feel like my purpose here is to show others you don’t have to follow the rules. You can go do your own thing. And simply by doing that, you’ll be meeting your purpose in life and inspiring others.