Melii is a whole vibe, and she deserves all the blessings coming her way. Hailing from Harlem, Melii is the definition of a versatile recording artist, someone who can move mountains with her vocals and at the same time rap on par with all your favorite MCs. And let’s not forget her ability to create lyrics in Spanish… and the fact that she looks damn good while doing it!
Exploding onto the scene with her breakout single “Icey” in 2018, which even had Beyonce playing it in one of her Ivy Park campaigns, Melii has since exploded into the limelight, proving she has what it takes to be one of the greats. Beyond the music, it’s her individuality, personality and vulnerability that fans can’t help but fall in love with.
Now under Tory Lanez’ One Umbrella Records, Melii returns with her newest single and visual for “Cartier.” This follows her previous releases, “Hey Stranger” and “Would You Let Me Go?”
Regardless of what’s happening, Melii always keeps it real, touching on everyday things we go through from relationships to mental health.
AllHipHop: You dropped the 2-song EP, Winter In New York City. Is that the New York chapter closing?
Melii: Mmm, yeah. That was my sad girl winter type of thing, and now we back to savage mode.
AllHipHop: How does it feel to be able to put out the music you want to put out?
Melii: I feel great. I never wanted to be boxed in. Being that I could release the slow stuff, to me it’s a relief type of thing. I don’t want to be put in a box. “Oh, she only raps.” People will see me and think, “oh, she’s a rapper, she’s a rapper, she’s a rapper.” [snaps] Once I started putting out more of the singing stuff, I got more of an embrace. “Oh, she sings.” But then people started saying, “oh, she’s just a singer.” It’s like dang. But right now, I just want to be seen as an artist. I want to go into rock and roll if I want to. I want to be able to do whatever I want and not be so boxed in.
AllHipHop: Who are these songs about?
Melii: It wasn’t just one person, it’s a multiple thing. I always try when I make songs like that, I take into consideration the people that’s gonna hear it, which are my supporters. My DMs are poppin’ because of them too. They tell me: “yo, we need that thing. We need that boss, F that. Let me boss up.” You know?
AllHipHop: Shout out to the Melii Mob!
Melii: I always make sure with my music, to go from yeah you got hurt or whatever feeling you’re feeling, embrace it and then boss up. That’s always my go-to. I know the power of music, and I know how it’s going to affect the people that’s listening.
AllHipHop: What were you going through creating “Hey Stranger”?
Melii: With “Hey Stranger,” it was basically talking to a person that you know so well, and they just become a stranger. The second verse: “I’ve been blessing souls since ’97,” because that’s when I was born. “Always been a prize, don’t get gassed up like you chose me ’cause I’ve been blessing souls since ’97. Anything I touch is turning into gold, like I was sent from heaven.” If anybody’s singing that, I want you to feel that. You’re the blessing. You’re the mmm to the mmph.
AllHipHop: Talk about getting Michael Rainey Jr. from POWER Book II: Ghost in your video.
Melii: To be honest, it was last minute. Shout out to Tory Lanez, he’s the one that got him to be part of the video.
AllHipHop: That was his idea?
Melii: Mmhmm. We didn’t even meet. I saw him the night before, then they’re like, “he’s gonna do the video.” Aye, it’s lit. When I finally did get to meet him, he was sweet. He’s a sweetheart. He’s very down-to-earth. We were laughing the whole time, literally. We couldn’t even take it serious. Appreciate him, shout out to you!
AllHipHop: Do you watch Power Book II: Ghost?
Melii: No I don’t. Not going to hold you, I really feel like my attention span to anything: I can’t sit still. I be watching little clips. With any show — you see how I knew about the Rams? I go on like alright, where’s the little clips. Where’s the videos? That’s how I be keeping up.
AllHipHop: That means you don’t really watch TV?
Melii: No, I don’t. First of all, I lost my glasses for a year or so. I knew where they were, so I kept saying, “I’m a go get them.” After that, I never went to go get them, so my eyesight was messed up. Anytime I’m doing any type of bonding is with my best friend, I’ll say “yo, put the Netflix on.” If she don’t get the controller, I won’t get the controller. It’s over for TV. I can’t see. I be [squinting] the whole time. I cannot see.
AllHipHop: Do you drive?
Melii: No, but I’m thinking of getting the laser. I’m just scared because of the Final Destination movies. They be putting so much fear into you. I want to do it though, because my eyesight is s###. That plays a lot also in my face. People be like “why she look like that?” I can’t see! That’s why I look like that, for real. I’ll be staring and you think I’m staring at you, but really everything’s just blurry.
AllHipHop: A huge part of this show is mental health, how are you doing?
Melii: I’m doing great, because I’m learning the power of the tongue. During the pandemic, I dove into myself. I started to pour into myself and open all the doors that I have closed on myself and also things I wasn’t ready to face. I did a lot of self-reflecting and because of it, I got to take out the old and bring in space for the new. I really did it for myself, which is what I needed to tap in. Doing things to myself, paying attention to things for me this time. It was really an ascension for me. I went through a spiritual journey. I’ve been learning the power of the tongue, the power of the people you keep around, the energy and what you allow. That’s where I’m at. I say great because I’m in front of you. I love your energy, I love being around you so I always feel great around you. I have my downs and my ups, but this time I’m keeping it more level than letting the down get me down down.
AllHipHop: Research finds musicians are 3x more likely to experience anxiety or depression than the general public.
Melii: I believe that. It’s because our minds are running wild. [snaps] We’re thinking about things differently. Aside from artists, just being around so many different things, it’s a little bit overwhelming.
AllHipHop: You were diagnosed with depression, PTSD, anxiety. When did that start?
Melii: Honestly, I don’t even know. I know it was depression, anxiety, PTSD. But like I said, that power of the tongue has no control over me. I feel it sometimes, but either I’m a pray or I’m a count slowly and try to get myself together. The more we allow that to control us, the less time we have to experience life itself.
AllHipHop: You went through wild s###!
Melii: I had to accept that. A lot of times, I felt I didn’t deserve to be happy.
AllHipHop: I think the Melii Mob appreciates your vulnerability the most.
Melii: I make sure to always do that. Regardless if I feel I’m normal or I have my highs and my lows, I’m still someone that the Melii Mob does reach out to. I always have my messages open. If I see a paragraph or anything that’s alarming, I make sure to reach out. Sometimes, not everybody has that person at home. Being that I understand that now, I’m more open. I can’t be ashamed of what God allowed me to be in the open about. I have to embrace everything that’s coming, try to find common ground where I can also spread hope. Not be like “oh well, I look on to Melii and Melii’s drowning in her own things.” I have my days, but I’m gonna keep pushing.
AllHipHop: That’s also a lot of pressure too.
Melii: It is a lot of pressure, but when you take it as I’m doing it for myself, then it naturally spreads out to whoever else. A lot of times, you have to think about the people around you. My team, my best friend. I had to really think about “I want to do this for myself, but also I deserve to bring light into other people around me and they’re gonna be around me for this long.”
AllHipHop: Speaking of best friend, when did y’all meet?
Melii: My best friend, we met in high school when I was 15.
AllHipHop: How does it feel to be here and sharing this journey?
Melii: I love her. My best friend, she’s amazing. She’s really amazing. The crazy thing when I met my best friend, I had gotten transferred from another school because me and my other best friend were too close and we kept getting into trouble. My mom’s like “let me take her out of this school,” and she put me all the way in the Heights. So I went from going to school in Harlem to going to school in the Heights.
When I met my other best friend now, her name is Ruth by the way, shout out to you. She’s always with me. This time, she’s home. When I met her, she’s like “you’re new to the school,” da-da-da. I was so closed off, I was like “you’re my acquaintance.” She broke those walls and we became real ride or die. Literally, we were sharing little $1 fries from the Chinese spots with the BBQ sauce. We’d go all the time. She’s really my rock. That’s really my ride or die.
AllHipHop: What do you do for self-care?
Melii: First of all, you gotta look good to feel good. Yes, there’s times where I don’t want to do nothing. Alright, what makes me feel good? My hair? Okay. As you can see I’m always dying my hair. It’s not like a crazy thing, more so I like to feel brand new. I like to feel like “yes!” Other than that, a little blunt. Put my little music on. Sometimes I put on gospel, I love listening to gospel. Be with my best friend, that’s my self-care. Put the phone down, don’t listen to nobody and just chill out.
AllHipHop: I didn’t know “Icey” was featured in Beyonce’s Ivy Park winter campaign. That’s incredible!
Melii: That was crazy. When I first heard it, I didn’t really pay too much attention to it because Beyonce, y’all playing. She didn’t really play it. After I saw it, I was in the living room in Miami. I was with my stylist, my best friend. Yo, it’s really there! When I heard the beat and seen Beyonce, “aye yo, that’s me! That’s Beyonce!” I couldn’t contain myself. I love her and I’m so thankful for that. Every time, these blessings really open up doors for me. On top of that, it reminds me girl, do you know who you are? Period.
AllHipHop: What about Kylie Jenner posted you?
Melii: Listen! Yes. Kylie, then Riri, then Beyonce. Please! Every time I get that support, girl. What are you doing? Hurry up. [snaps] But not everything’s so easy. Some of the things weren’t up to me, but now I’m on it.
AllHipHop: How’d you feel when people said you were pregnant?
Melii: First of all, I want to talk about. ‘Cause why not? Women in this industry… f### the Photoshop bro! The Photoshop needs to stop because it’s giving off not realistic. I naturally have this little pouch right here. If you go through my pictures, that’s what I did. I posted from 2015 and if you go all the way down, I have a little white skirt. I have the same little pouch. The white dress, all of that. Sometimes you won’t see it, it’s ’cause I can hold this in and talk. I can go through the whole day like that.
But if I want to relax, that’s coming out. If I want to be like this all day and talk, it’s gonna be like that. That’s things that as women, I don’t think we’re so vocal about it. I know women know that, we be sucking it in or you’ll see this in pictures. Other than that, that’s me! Even before that, I went on Twitter and said “and I’m not sucking it in!” Then I deleted it. But when I deleted it, that whole thing blew up. Plus for the record, I would not announce a pregnancy on Instagram. I’m extra as hell. I’d do a whole video, more extra than Kylie.
AllHipHop: Would you hide yourself for 9 months?
Melii: I don’t think I could hide myself for that long, ’cause I’m gonna wanna pop out. I’m a wanna get jiggy with my belly. I don’t want to hide such a beautiful thing. I’d never announce something so beautiful in that way, that was so left field for me. I hit them up myself like “yo, I just dropped music.” The bad and good is always good publicity like they say, but not this right here. I need some help, promote my music. Winter In New York City just dropped, do that for me. Not no pregnancy. When it’s a pregnancy, I’m a come correct. I’ll be stylin’.
AllHipHop: Someone had the audacity to write that, what’s wrong with people?
Melii: To be honest, I don’t even feel no type of way. Being in this s###, you always gonna have to deal with weird s###. It was so left field, I was literally about to catch a whole flight before all of that. What are y’all talking’ about? Pregnant, what? And TMZ is confirming. No, none of that. Literally, if people wanna go and observe my stomach, they can see there’s always gonna be that little thing right there. That’s me.
My mom’s like, “what I told you? I told you to work it out and do crunches.” F### doing crunches! Girl, I don’t need to work it out. She’s like, “Don’t worry about it, it don’t matter.” ‘Cause when I get thicker, you gonna see it more. When I’m skinny, I look like the thing in Men In Black. The Men In Black joints. But when I’m thick, you gon’ see that belly.
AllHipHop: How was it signing to Tory Lanez?
Melii: He’s a great person. He’s a very great person. He’s very intune with himself. He’s confident and he makes sure that all his artists feel that way, they’re supported. He’s a God-fearing man, which is the best part about it. You’ll see him pray over us, he’s always looking out.
AllHipHop: How did he reach out?
Melii: When I was with Interscope, I had a song on Phases called “Slow For Me.” He’s on that song, that’s how we met. Originally, I always loved his music. Other than that, he’s always brung it up, but I ended up going to Meek instead of Tory. But my label thought it was better to go with Meek. I don’t want to get too into that but after that, it all worked out.
AllHipHop: You tweeted you wanted to quit music. What exactly happened with the label?
Melii: Not even censoring it: the kind of artist I am needs a real structure to it and knowing what to do. Aside from that, there were a lot of things that I carried on from the past that came along with me. Managers or people being like, “well she has it, so let’s do this.” I got to a point where last year, I said “I quit music! This industry, f### this.”
AllHipHop: I remember hitting you saying you can’t, you’re too hard!
Melii: You did. But with that, I was really serious. I couldn’t either way. I couldn’t release music and I had to grow out of that, but I always want to be in control of it. I tried to be in control of the situation and say “well I’m the one quitting, it’s not you that’s not letting me.” The reality is what else I’m a do? I love music! I had to take that power back. I thought I had the power over it by saying “f### this, now nobody’s doing s###.” But nah, I need my power back. And my power back was to come back even stronger.
AllHipHop: Did you get out of that deal?
Melii: It’s a lot going on. It’s a lot going on, but I’m in control of my own life right now. So the less I feel like I’m a little in a little bird cage and I mentally get out of that in my head, that’s where I’m at with it.
AllHipHop: A lot of artists want that major deal. What advice do you have?
Melii: One thing for sure that artists leave out is that these people and these labels, even though the contracts can be set up a certain way, they do help you. They do. Even when you make connections with the people there, they do help you and that was my situation too. I could never complain and say I was treated unfairly. My label looked out, but would I have signed now? No. But I was Melii from the projects, didn’t know much. That was an opportunity. That was still a blessing in itself and it played its part when it needed to play its part. That’s a lot of downplaying with that.
What I will say: get an actual lawyer that’s not from the label or from people around. Sit down and think about it. Don’t rush in just because of the money, and always weigh your options. Because now, distribution deals is a thing. Before, it wasn’t too much of a thing. Always look for an alternative, look for what’s best for you. Sometimes, taking a deal is the best. Some people do get stuck, I’m not gonna hold you, but you always have another chance to come up again.
AllHipHop: How was it working with 6lack on “U Ain’t Worth It”?
Melii: The highlight was that he was honest. The first song I sent, he didn’t really vibe with it. When I sent him that one, he vibed with it and sent it back. 6lack is such a welcoming guy. We were literally shooting the video and we needed another scene, he’s like “I’ll stay back, she can shoot her scene.” We didn’t end up doing it but wow, for an artist like you to be open and understanding, that was the highlight for me. Just getting to know him as a person.
AllHipHop: Any collabs we can lookout for?
Melii: I’ve been open to being in the studio with more people. Before, it’d be me and my engineer. But now, I want to have different producers in there. Writers, now I’m open to different ideas. I’ve tried the whole writing stuff. I do end up going like eh, but it’s still a different idea. I learned to embrace it in a different way. There’s so many different things. Oh, I worked with KayyCyy Pluto. Crazy artist. He’s talented, crazy.
AllHipHop: I just interviewed him! That’s wild.
Melii: I worked with him in Miami and it was refreshing. Aye, even just playing our records back and forth. You heard of Beam?
Melii: With KayyCyy, Vory, and Beam, 3 people I’ve been in the studio with, it’s pushed me to be more accepting of vibes in the studio. I love their music, very talented. My music, I’m a be putting out new s###. Now, I have more control.
AllHipHop: How was it doing “Big Tipper” with Lil Wayne?
Melii: That was Tory, Tory’s always looking out. He’s always supported my career, always pushing it. He definitely pushes me to be my own artist all the time. He doesn’t overshadow. Any time, say editing videos or when I have questions, he’s always looking out. And with Lil Wayne, that was big. Girl, it’s Lil Wayne! In 6th grade when Wayne dropped “Over,” bro around that time to now being on a song with Lil Wayne, that’s a blessing.
AllHipHop: What’re you most excited for?
Melii: I’m most excited to see how the world receives the new me without feeling bad for myself, feeling limited, feeling controlled, feeling like I was a caged animal. In a sense, I did it to myself. I felt like I didn’t deserve certain things. Even in relationships, I couldn’t accept being hugged. Now, hug me! Now, I want to feel love. I want to embrace, I want to take a new step toward life. Use me, see me, push yourself. Yesterday you could’ve felt like s### and wanted to die, but wake up the next day and it’s a new day! Whatever time you started, that’s the time you’re supposed to wake up and you go attack whatever. Go do what you gotta do.
The pandemic really changed a lot for me. A lot of people died, may they rest in peace. People that got affected, I send my love out to. But yo, we got another chance at life. It’s another chance. If God really wanted me to go today, I could have gone. Trust ’cause when it’s your time, it’s your time. I had to learn, f### wanting be dead. F### the world! I’m a live in my world and I’m a make it fun for me. That’s all you can do. It’s about releasing control, because anxiety also comes from the unknown. Even you saying “oh, you want to go to Texas?” Hell yeah! I’m a little scared, but it’s gonna be lit. And I might not end up in Texas, but I’m open to whatever. ‘Cause everything is embracing.