Flo Milli – ‘You Still Here, Ho?’ review: a promising, if not entirely polished, debut from the Alabama rapper

While it doesn’t always maintain its initial spark, Milli’s debut studio album still pays homage to the greats and showcases her skills

Over the past four years, few emerging names in rap have had as boisterous an impact as Mobile, Alabama’s Flo Milli. Since releasing her first official track ‘Beef FloMix’ on SoundCloud in late 2018 – which went on to become one of 2019’s rap songs of the summer – Milli, who declared to NME back in March that she is “a firm believer in my talent”, has more than kept up with the hype surrounding her, which only increased after the release of her critically acclaimed and Billboard-charting 2020 debut mixtape, ‘Ho, Why Is You Here?’.

In that time, Milli’s cocksure rap persona and sense of bravado has helped her build up an international fanbase and rack up over half a billion streams to date. The arrival this week of her debut album, ‘You Still Here, Ho?’, then, is the latest big career step to be taken by the 22-year old. Based, Milli says, “on early 2000’s nostalgia” and the pop-rap culture of the 2010s, the record begins with an introduction from US reality TV star Tiffany Pollard, “the original HBIC [“Head Bitch in Charge”]” who formally passes on the torch to the “princess of this rap shit” Milli.

The newest member of rap’s royal family does showcase her massive potential on ‘You Still Here, Ho?’ while paying homage to the greats of the past and taking us back to the days of MTV Base. The anthemic ‘F.N.G.M.’ samples Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s classic ‘Get Money’, but diligently flips its patriarchal message on its head to make it all about the ways “my bitches get money”. Where Milli truly shines, though, is when she returns to her charming sing-song approach, such as on ‘Hottie’ where she confidently tears through its modernised take on the crunk’n’B sound of Ciara circa 2006.

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After the brilliantly subdued ‘Pretty Girls’ – which, with its reverbed guitar accents, has the ambient feel of a slow Nelly Furtado offering – the album suffers from a dip in quality by indulging far too much in bland, throwaway trap sounds. ‘No Face’ is particularly guilty of this, coming across like a half-finished cut that was thrown on to the album at the last minute. With a little more time invested, you feel Milli could’ve come up with more imaginative lyrics than “I’m the shit, these bitches tryna clone me / High like Whitney Houston, now I feel like every woman”.

After making such a strong start to her career, it is unfortunate that ‘You Still Here, Ho?’ doesn’t quite showcase Milli’s superpowers to the knockout extent we’d hoped for. While her commitment to reviving the golden age of hip-hop by harking back to the likes of Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown is admirable, it looks like we’ll have to wait for Milli’s next release for that consistent collection of sure-fire hits we know she’s capable of delivering.

Details

Flo Milli - 'You Still Here, Ho?' artwork

  • Release date: July 20
  • Record label: RCA Records
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