Growing up in Mobile, Ala., Flo Milli (born Tamia Carter) spent her childhood and teenage years taking a crash course to stardom. She showed an early flair as a performer through dancing and acting in school plays and wrote her first song at 9 years old. By 14, she had already formed, rebranded and dissolved an all-girl rap group, Real & Beautiful. Driven by a goal to “always be the best at what I do,” she developed a social media strategy for herself in middle school and set benchmarks for followers, determined to have her music dreams realized by 18. "I was a little bit off," she says of finding mainstream success by age 19, "but for the most part I predicted it right.”
Flo Milli had been professionally recording in studios since 2017 but a creative lull after high school caused a rare crisis of confidence. Her 2019 rework of an Ethereal and Playboi Carti collaboration, “Beef,” which went viral on Instagram before crossing over to TikTok, helped her regain momentum — and land a manager in Vonsin Faniyi, who quickly helped orchestrate a viral dance challenge for the song. By the end of the year, Flo Milli had signed a recording contract with RCA, saying the label was “very much invested in my brand and me as a person.” And though on breakout track “Beef FloMix” she proudly proclaims, “At least I could say I did it with no help,” she now takes comfort in having a team led by RCA A&R executives Shareen Taylor and Skane Dolla.
Thanks to a burst of productivity during the coronavirus pandemic, Flo Milli completed her debut mixtape, Ho, Why is you here ?, and shot and released a slew of music videos. She says her mixtape rounds out her own “phase one” and has already laid out what’s next: one or two more albums before expanding to “bigger, better things” to elevate her brand outside of music. She teases “more singing” on her next project, and for now is spending time between Atlanta and Alabama, “exploring my voice, because I know that it can do so many things.”
This article originally appeared in the August 15, 2020 issue of Billboard.