W elcome to Rolling Stone’s 2022 Musicians on Musicians package, the annual franchise where two great artists come together for a free, open conversation about life and music. Each story in this year’s series will appear in our November 2022 print issue, hitting stands on Nov. 1st.
“My Capricorn sis!” The shared zodiac sign that doubles as a greeting from Latto, 23, to Flo Milli, 22, is just one of the two MCs’ many similarities. Both hail from the Southeast, both are tattooed with their lucky number, seven — and neither of them has ever been to iFly Atlanta, the indoor skydiving venue across the street from the stadium where the Atlanta Braves play. Donning a red skydiving suit, Latto reaches for a helmet to complete the look. “You already know my big head needs an extra-large,” she jokes, and they laugh as Flo asks for the same size.
Flo Milli can recall a time just a few years ago when it felt like fans, critics, and the music business were pitting her and Latto against each other as two female rappers on the rise. Now, they loudly support each other. Latto, a fan of Flo Milli’s 2022 album, You Still Here, Ho?, urges her to release a favorite song that didn’t make the track list; Flo Milli reminisces about Latto’s “poufy-hair days,” before hits like last year’s “Big Energy,” recalling the inspiration she found from watching a young woman like herself thrive in the rap game. The energy in the room is clear: It’s all love.
A skydiving instructor interrupts the two mid-conversation to remind them that they do actually have to skydive today, and asks who will go first. For the first time, they disagree, as Latto volunteers: “Oh, Flo will go first.”
Flo Milli: I’m so happy that we’re doing this together. Like, I feel like we’re showing that we can actually love and support each other because we need it. And I just want to say thank you for supporting me all the time.
Latto: You know I don’t play about you. They be like, “Who is your favorite female peer,” or whatever, and I always be like, “Flo.” I think you’re so talented. You bring something different to the game. And it’s really your Capricorn energy, because we’re just boss bitches.
Flo Milli: First of all, I want to give you your flowers. Like, to do the things that you have done . . . a lot of people can’t really say that they’ve done them. Watching you from when I think I was 12 years old—
Latto: What?! Don’t make me feel old.
Flo Milli: For real! When I was younger, I was in a rap group, and my best friend, India, told me about you. She was like, “Girl, Latto? Oh, she hard.” I think this was when you had your poufy hair. We would just watch your videos, and I remember seeing you grow over the years. Seeing another young female MC actually care about it and have the passion towards it . . . Because I feel like a lot of times, it’s not really that genuine nowadays.
Latto: It really don’t be. But I like the fact that when they see us do it, it’s kind of a domino effect.
Flo Milli: It’s giving inspiration. And I can remember multiple times where they tried to pin us against each other, and it’s like the way we build our strength is by going against that. Actually saying, “Nah, this my sister. I’m gonna show y’all I support her in front of y’all.” And it’s like, what can you do then?
I think it’s important to do that, especially as young artists coming into the game, because everybody comes from different places. People don’t know, every time we was doing interviews for BET, they was like, “Oh, Latto showing you love!” We need that at times.
Latto: We all get discouraged, and then that one little recognition from somebody, even if it’s your peer or if it’s someone way bigger than you, it just remotivates you. I remember seeing Cardi say she fucked with me.
Flo Milli: How did that feel when you first started getting that notoriety?
Latto: That junk just still be mind-blowing. You know, you see my videos and stuff, and I’ve been doing it for a long time. So it’s like finally the hard work’s starting to pay off. I’m sure you be getting people in your DMs, especially when you drop projects. That’s when it be like, “Damn, I ain’t know you listen to me!”
Flo Milli: You was watching! But yes, girl, all the time. For real, it really makes you feel good about your artistry, because so much goes on behind the scenes that they don’t know about. They just see the product, the happy, the end result. They don’t see the hard work, the blood, the sweat.
At the end of the day,” says Flo Milli, “You know what’s best for you. You know what feels good. And you know what song is gonna hit. You got yourself here.
Latto: Yes, like when I dropped my project [777, released this spring], it was so hard doing the clearances. Making sure people got their verses back on time. I even had to leave one song off of my project that I really wanted there so bad — and me and the artist is cool. Their label just wasn’t clearing it, even though we both were like, “No, we have a personal relationship outside of this.” That junk just be crazy.
Flo Milli: It’s crazy because nine times out of 10 it’s not really the artist. You never know what it is or where it’s coming from. That’s another thing we can talk about, because even I had to leave some songs off my album.
Latto: Oh, for real? Tell us! We want to know what’s tea. Tell us something that happened behind the scenes. Nothing messy.
Flo Milli: Of course, I had the same issue with clearances and stuff, where people was not trying to clear the songs that I really wanted. It was really that or, you know, just a lot of opinions.
Latto: The opinions . . .
Flo Milli: It’s a lot. I’m still trying to put [that song] out, I ain’t gonna lie.
Latto: Sometimes it don’t even be messy stuff, like they’re trying to hold their song or hold their verse. Sometimes it be the labels. Or they might have their own stuff about to drop.
Flo Milli: Yes, for sure. Because when you think about it, all of us are so busy doing stuff. I remember we were supposed to align, and it’s so crazy that we still ended up aligning [for this interview]. I think that’s dope, because you know, everything happens for a reason.
I never got to ask you this, but in the beginning [for me] as a new artist . . . it was so fast. I was in college one day, and then the next day, it’s like, you’re actually seeing your dreams come to fruition. But I felt like there were so many other things that I dealt with as a new artist. The trauma of so many people changing around you, or just the comments or the media. That’s something . . . because that ain’t talked about enough.
Latto: And then maintaining your mental throughout everything. I remember being so young starting. It had this effect on me to where I felt kind of out of place. Like, I thought everybody else knew what was best for me. Almost better for me than I knew what was best for me, you know? So I would listen to too many people. “You should rap about this. You should dress like this. You should talk like this, walk like this.” I was like, “Damn, I’m not even myself at this point.” I want the people to be fans of me — not fans of what you’ve planned for me.
Now? I’m annoyingly hands-on with my career. I know my team be like, “Shut up!” It kind of backfired. Because now, everything got to be my way.
Flo Milli: I’m the same way. Because when you’ve been through when things went wrong, you don’t want to mess up. And when you care about your career, you tend to be like that. At the end of the day, you know what’s best for you. You know what feels good. And you know what song is gonna hit. Because you got yourself here. So it’s like, how is somebody gonna tell you?
Latto: You be having that problem? I be like, “This is the song.” And they’d be like, “No.” That happened with my last project.
Flo Milli: Yeah, I feel like they don’t really believe us when we say that we really have a connection with our fans. Like even before you were famous, I’m sure you would drop music and you knew what
they would respond to. When you’re on the labels, you already know what they like when you’re cooking up. It’s like, “They like when I do this. So let me start doing that more.” I think that’s where it comes from.
Latto: Yeah, just knowing your fans already. And then when you’re teasing songs, I know this piece of this song will make them go crazy. You know your craft better than anybody else. I think you’re versatile as hell. I look at you and I really see a superstar. I think you got what it takes to be, like, A list, top bitch. You can sing. I love your flow changes.
You know what? The day before yesterday I was getting my lashes done, and my sister, who loves you too, she was like, “Flo Milli’s on the [Big Boss Vette] ‘Snatched’ remix.” I was like, “What?! Play it!” But my eyes were closed, so I’m just listening and I said, “This bitch ate!” You can hear your growth. And you’re so young — that’s why I think you really got what it takes. You are young as hell and already catching on so fast. That’s why I really think you got what it takes. Every time I hear a new song or a new verse, it’s just better and better. You play with your voice — you use your voice like an instrument. I’m trying to learn that.
I remember being so young starting. I thought everybody else knew what was best for me,” says Latto. “Now? I’m annoyingly hands-on with my career. Everything got to be my way.
Flo Milli: I really thank you for saying that. The people I grew up listening to are kind of like that. One thing that helped me with that was listening to artists that are like that. I don’t know who told me that to be the best, you got to learn from the best. That’s stuck with me. Like, dang. The trick is just picking the people — like, you see the greats. And you just have to analyze what makes them great. “Oh, they did this and this and that.”
But since we’re on the topic, I want to tell you what I love about you. First of all, you are so beautiful. That’s Number One. And I think you have star power just as much as you think that about me.
Latto: It’s so hard to look at yourself like a star.
Flo Milli: Right, and not to say I see myself in you, but I kind of get attracted to people I’m like. I have respect for that person because I can relate, you know? I feel like we kind of have similar lives in a way when it comes to music. When we started rapping, I think you said you was 10. And I was like 11. I was like, “Damn we had the same little life story.” It’s so crazy, because I’m sure you’ve dealt with having to grow up fast . . . you don’t play about your business. I think you’re a great performer. And anytime I see you, it’s like you ready — like, you have great self-control. You know what I’m saying? It’s more qualities to a star than just talent.
Latto: That’s what they don’t know. That’s what they don’t know. It’s deeper than just being able to rap. It’s so many other elements to being a star… So, you had previewed a song and it’s not on your album.
Flo Milli: You really like that song?
Latto: Yes! I told my sister, “This bitch is unbeatable.”
Flo Milli: You want to know the truth?
Latto: You didn’t like it?
Flo Milli: I feel like I got bad comments on it.
Latto: I saw it when you first posted it, so I didn’t get to see how people reacted. They don’t respect the harmonies and the stacks. That shit was so fire to me — like, it just shows your versatility, too.
Flo Milli: I’m gonna drop it now.
Latto: Fuck them. Play with your elevation and just grow. Don’t let them put you in a box. If y’all don’t like it? It is what it is. I like it.
Flo Milli: Period. But that’s real, though. I’m glad you said that, because I definitely was not gonna touch the song again.
Latto: No, that shit is fire to me. Don’t scrap them. As a fan, don’t scrap them.
Musicians on Musicians is the annual franchise where two great artists come together to talk about life, music, and everything in between. We’ll be rolling out each story in this year’s series through November 2nd, and each one appears in the November issue of the magazine. You can also hear a podcast version of many of these conversations right here.