Milano isn’t your average girl next door, she’s a boss bitch powerhouse here to empower women and men alike with her music. It’s not everyday you see a 100% Cambodian female rapper from Long Beach, and she certainly flips it to her advantage. Read more…
With a unique style, distinct look, and undeniable swag, Milano demands attention any time she enters the room. This year, she released her 11/11 project inspired by love, heartbreak, and everything in between. With a guest appearance from Compton’s own AD on her latest single “Guap,” she proves she can spit and deliver that West Coast sound we all know and love.
For those who don’t know, who is Milano?
Milano is a woman who likes to empower other women. I am an artist. I’ve been doing music for 3 years strong now. I made it my life after a breakup, that will make you want to write and express your feelings for sure. Before then, it was a hobby on and off. I am full Cambodian, first generation to be in America. Cambodian American. I rock out for my peoples in Cambodia and also the beautiful people out here. I want to empower everybody: girls, females, men. I’m all about love and respect.
Being from Long Beach, how does that play into your life and career?
It’s every day for me. It’s the usual. I was actually born in Fountain Valley in Orange County. I moved to Long Beach when I was 7 and have been a Long Beach native ever since, so I feel like that’s home. I like it. It’s a cool vibe.
How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
I’m always in LA, so I love it. The vibe. There are so many different artists that are trying to make it and are really making it. They’re putting that work in. I’m excited to work and work with other artists.
Where would you say you fit in the realm of hip-hop & R&B?
Everywhere. I don’t like to put myself in a box. I don’t like to limit myself. I wanna do it all. Anything that includes hip-hop, or even just anything including music. I’m there for it with my whole heart. I put my heart and my soul into it.
How difficult or easy was it to pick up? I know you said you started three years ago.
Man, it was difficult. Finding my voice, being comfortable, being open and talking and expressing my feelings, because that’s what a musician is. We live our life, we sing, we breathe… this is our life. It wasn’t easy at first, but now I feel way more comfortable. I’m like an open book now.
How’d you get your name?
I heard it and I was just like, “Ah, it’s so exotic. It’s so sexy.” It makes you just wonder too. And it is the city of Italy.
And it’s the cookie!
And the cookies too! The cookies are good, but I thought it was kind of sexy and classy. I was like “put it on me.” It makes it a whole lot better.
What were you doing before the music?
I was dancing on and off since like 19. When I say dancing, I mean a stripper or exotic dancer. I still do that now. That’s what I’m doing to get to where I want to be because my passion is music.
How has dancing helped your career?
It definitely helps. I’m able to invest in myself and do things that a regular artist can do as an independent artist. I’m more free to express myself, because I’m dancing almost half-naked on stage anyways. It’s like I was made for this. I’m prepared for this. This is my life. This is what I do. So I’m comfortable, pretty much.
Talk about your 11/11 project and the creative process behind it.
11/11, that was from the heartbreak. 11/11 stands for me and my grandmother’s birthday. She was also a big influence and a big motivation in my life. A strong woman. She had 16 kids and only had one love in her life, which is my grandfather. He passed away in the Vietnam War.
She has sixteen kids?
Yeah, and 4 of them passed away due to birth defects. Rest in peace. That’s my baby over there. A big motivator. I wish she could be here to see me today, but I’m sure she’s looking down really proud.
Oh, the project. Mostly everything, if it’s including love or heartbreak, it’s from a past relationship that I went through. Man, that person was the love of my life and I still feel that way. I changed a lot of my ways and I grew up, but it was an experience that I would never throw away. I always keep that with me because without that heartbreak, I wouldn’t be here pursuing this music. Because I had to get my pain and I had to put everything that I was going through at that time into something and it’s created this platform for me to do rap. It’s from the heart. If you guys listen to it, there’s some good records on there. It’s different. There’s pop. I got a reggaeton record on there. I’m trying to do it all.
You have a single with Mike Zombie called “The Feels.” Talk about the dynamic in the studio.
He’s so cool. Real cool, chill dude. We met in the studio that night and we made a record right away. It was like fate, it just happened. Everything just went out with a bang. We did it, we connected, we worked on it, and we finished it that night in a few hours.
He’s actually rapping on it, he usually produces right?
Yeah, he’s usually a producer. That was the first time meeting him, first time ever knowing who he was.
How’d you guys meet?
In the studio. I had booked a 12-hour session at Paramount Studios. I guess people just meet up to record and make music. That was a blessing. I didn’t even know who he was until he told us. I’m like “cool.” We just kicked it, made a record, and here we are, talking about the single.
You’ve worked with artists from AD to Compton AV. Talk about the features you choose to work with. I feel like most are LA.
Yes, LA. LA bound. Compton AV, that’s the homeboy.
He got that song, the money song?
“I throw some money up and watch the money land.”
That songs slaps!
That’s the one the strip club, for sure [laughs]. He’s actually been doing music for a long time. Big shout out to AV. AV is real cool. I just shot him the record and he was with it. He sent it back to me in 4 to 5 days. He’s really a good artist. He gets it done.
AD, we did “Guap.” That was so fun and dope because he still says, “I got the juice.” And I always sing that song to him. I feel like I got some cool people that I’ve been working with and it was a pleasure, for sure.
What are some your goals in the music industry?
I want to perform with the biggest legends. I want to be a part of music history. I believe that because it’s my passion, my heart, it’s so deep. It goes beyond… I can even barely express it. I would love to work with all artists. I can’t even just name one, I’m just in love with music. It could be Taylor Swift, like I love country. I love her old album.
If there was someone you wanted to collab with, who would it be?
Beyonce. She’s killing it.
Who are you listening to?
Myself a lot, but a little bit of everybody. I like Juice WRLD. He’s dope because his heartbreak songs I can actually relate. “Broke my heart, oh no you didn’t,” feel me? Shout out Juice WRLD. Who else am I listening to? A lot of new artists. DaniLeigh, oh my God.
“My lil bebe, change your price tag.” I love her. I’m loving her dance moves. I like to relax and goof off, and she’s got it tied down. Shout out DaniLeigh.
How important is social media for your career?
It’s important. It’s a big platform. It’s like a free sponsor. I think it’s a big deal because Instagram is popping. That’s the way to go. That’s the only way to go. It’s the new thing. Nobody’s listening to CDs or nothing. It’s like everything is through the internet and social media. I’m with it. I’m up for it.
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Get up, go to the gym. I always have a bowl of pho. I am a pho freak. At least every day. That’s my daily, like I need to have a bowl of pho. It’s crazy. This spot in Long Beach, it’s like my favorite spot. They serve you like in 3 minutes. It’s hot and steamy. Gym, pho, and I just started playing ball again. I used to ball in high school and middle school. If not studio, then go to work. Hit the nightclub.
3 things you need in the studio?
1) Water. 2) Drink.
What kind of drink?
It varies. It could be Henny, Remy, 1942, 1738. But 1942 mostly, or Henny. 3) Weed.
Is there anything else you want to let us know?
I’m excited for what’s to come. I’ve been working so hard. I feel like I’m at my peak work. It’s finally my break where I can show the world a little bit more of myself and share my world with them. Let’s go.