Music

Flo Milli Lets The Brat Out On ‘You Still Here, Ho?’

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Flo Mill can really rap. That question was answered as soon as she drew breath on her debut project, Ho, Why Is You Here?, in 2020. As anticipation for its follow-up grew, the new question became whether or not she could expand her repertoire, find new topics to rap about, and layer in emotional depth – doing the things that separate good or even great rappers from recording artists with longevity in addition to short-term success.

A week ago, Flo Milli released her anticipated sophomore project, You Still Here, Ho?, to answer those questions. And while the answer may disappoint those who wanted to see artistic growth in the two years since the 22-year-old Mobile, Alabama rapper first captured all of our attention with her witty raps and bratty charms, the new release doubles down on those qualities to offer an entertaining entry to her growing catalog.

When I first heard Flo Milli, she reminded me of my younger sister and the rap battles we’d have with each other when we were both still in high school, four years apart. There was a juvenile, carefree quality to Milli’s raps, like a classroom roast session. The impression was helped along by her higher-pitched voice and bouncy, singsong rhyme cadence, which was buoyed by percussive, stripped-down, trap-lite production.

The whole package came together to present the persona of a snotty teenager rolling her neck and eyes while dismissively deriding your style, your presence, and your whole approach to life. The closest analog that jumps to mind at the moment is Kyla Pratt’s demeanor in those old WNBA commercials in which the then-child star confronted WNBA players to list in brutally accurate detail every flaw in their respective approaches to basketball.

On You Still Here, Ho? (even the title is haughty, and I really appreciate the commitment to the brand), Flo Milli maintains this cocky, Regina George-ish persona, but fine tunes around the edges to provide a fresh layer of glittery polish to the whole affair. Where the beats on her debut often sounded like first drafts, from the very first track here, the brash “Come Outside” (as in, “I just wanna talk” – as in, “we really gon’ beat yo’ ass”), it’s obvious that more time was spent on fleshing out the backdrops.

To be honest, this really props up Flo’s voice and taunting flow much better, allowing her tracks to sound like finished songs and not a kid’s first swing at recording at the local Boys & Girls Club. The addition of melodies – the sitar threaded throughout “Bed Time,” the ghostly loops on “Ice Baby” – buttress her raps, while the more regressive tracks come off distracting – the synthy percussions on “Big Steppa” – come off more distracting and eat her voice in the mix.

“On My Nerves” marks the slickest update to Flo’s original sound – sparse, but upbeat, giving space for her jabs to land squarely in the middle of their targets’ faces. “You think you street, but you sesame,” she sneers, a prime example of the understated wit of her one-two punchlines. It’s not exactly Shakespeare – and certainly no Jay-Z – but there’s something to the simple humor behind her boasts and jeers that makes them effective and relatable (remember when Lil Wayne said “I’m the bomb like tick-tick?” Yeah, it’s a little like that). The only missteps are when she tries to sing, as on “Tilted Halo.” That is not what we came for.

If Flo Milli’s music seems like it’s aimed more at appealing to middle schoolers than serious hip-hop heads, that’s because it probably is. At just 22 years old, she’s closer to that demographic than she is to Golden Era nostalgists who want to hear “real-life raps” from her. And truth be told, she hasn’t really lived enough life to merit trying to go deep on life lessons, while socio-political rap has always been a tough sell for anybody, let alone women just getting into the rap game. She’s young enough that she’s got time to get there – maybe in two or three projects down the line – but for now, she’s a girl who just wants to have fun.

And so are many of her listeners. As much fuss has been made on the internet about the contemporary class of female rappers’ lack of substance, they’re making the music people want to hear right now. The world is a disaster, women are losing their rights, and the two things it seems we all need are a confidence booster and a break from all the darkness. Sometimes, we just wanna feel like we did when we were kids: snotty, brash, and carefree. You Still Here Ho? lets the brat out.

You Still Here Ho? is out now on RCA Records. Get it here.

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