Cover Story – PAUSE Meets: Moneybagg Yo


Moneybagg Yo

Talks inspiration, growing up & the future.

Photographer: Ollie Ali // @MrOllieAli
Stylist: Taija-Leorelle Weekes // @Taija_Leorelle
Interviewer: Johnson Gold // @Johnson_Gold
Videographer: Arie Stewart // @ShotByPurpose
Artist: Moneybagg Yo // @MoneybaggYo

If they don’t get it, force it on them… that’s what I did.”

A rapper by choice and a hustler by nature, Moneybagg Yo is the epitome of a hard worker. The Memphis-born creative couldn’t stay away from the bag if he tried, and being “God’s favourite”, it was only ever destined to go one way.

If you weren’t tapped in before, you have no choice but to be now. It doesn’t take long to track Moneybagg Yo’s meteoric rise to fame, with “rockets” like hit single ‘Wockesha’, ‘Said Sum’ and ‘Time Today’ putting the hitmaker firmly on the map. However, behind this monumental rise to the top, there was a considerable deal of hardship, pain and dedication that those around Moneybagg Yo always saw and respected him for. His #1 status was not a coincidence: it was an inevitability.

Moving forward at supersonic speed, Moneybagg Yo refuses to slow down as the rap star discusses what got him to the top of the rap game and how he plans to stay there. From becoming a label owner and releasing new music to putting it on for his city, what can’t Moneybagg Yo do? Bringing in that Tennessee charm, the chart-topper sat down with PAUSE to let us in on his rise to the pinnacle of rap, his advice for the younger generation, as well as what we can expect from him going forward.

Baklava – Heliot Emil, Gilet – Heliot Emil, Jeans – Who Decides War, Trainers – SoleStage

Wireless, Birmingham… how did you find it?

It was a good experience! I want to come back next time and really kill it, you know what I’m saying. A lot of stuff happened when I was out on stage, and this is me just being really honest, but I had a new DJ up there because my other DJ didn’t have a passport and had transport problems, so he couldn’t come over there. It was crazy but at the end of the day, I saved the day… it turned out cool.

Are there any differences in the crowd in the UK in comparison to the US?

Yeah, there’s a difference, they’ve got energy… they’ve got way more energy. It’s like, (in the US), you’ve got to keep them up on their feet, you’ve got to keep them up! You can analyse and say, “Okay, this is what I need to do, this is what I need to say, this is how I get them up.”

Tell me about your life growing up. Where did you start rapping and how did that neighbourhood inspire your music?

I started in Memphis, Tennessee, walking home in the neighbourhood I’m from. It’s just a really typical cliche story and everybody has kind of a similar one, but they do it in their own way, they have their own exit routes and the ways they got out of the streets.

With me, I feel like mine is different, and my motivation is most definitely my kids. We didn’t have money so I feel like I had to hustle. I was in a group with 8 people, but there were too many egos and too much going on, so I ended up getting out of the group. When I got out of the group, that’s when I took off. I took off as soon as I exited the group… I started getting $2500 a show. That was the whole point in doing it, but then I realised “Damn, I’m stuck in this rap sh*t, I can’t let the fans down. I’ve really got people who love me.” I couldn’t just get $2500 and quit. It went from $2500 to $15,000 and up, it was like a movie… real motivation. I’ve actually got a movie coming out explaining my whole process.

You said that you got out of this group… for some people, is that a difficult thing to do?

I mean if you know your end goal, it’s fine. Some people let it get the best of them and some people deal with it differently than I did. I feel like I knew I was a real superstar, I knew. Some people’s minds don’t even stretch that far, like, they just want people to know them and I want to make “X” amount of dollars. My situation was way different. I’m one of God’s favourites so that’s why I feel like out of the whole group, I surpassed everything.

You had your eye on the prize! Tell me about your rap name Moneybagg Yo, where did it spark from?

Just running around the hood, getting money, hustling. My homeboy, he’s locked up right now, his name is Brick Game Rico… free Rico! He’s getting ready to come home and he gave me the name in the 12th grade. We were just in school, and he was going for like ‘Rubberband Yo’ and ‘Blood Yo’, this and that, and then he came up with ‘Moneybagg Yo’. That was it, it just stuck. Boom. It was like, “Moneybagg Yo, he gets to the money”; that’s what we do! I didn’t even know that I wanted to take it as a rap name, people just started calling me Bagg around the hood. That’s when I started taking rap seriously.

So, when you got in the game and realised that you were in it and had to keep going, what kept your mindset going? What is your day-to-day mindset?

Like I said, I knew where I wanted to be and where I wanted to go, and I just knew the level that I was on and the hustle that I had in me. When you’re a hustler anyway, you will always find a way to get through something, and like I was telling you, I didn’t even know how I was going to be in the situation that I’m in now, I just knew that I was going to be something. I played football and basketball, I just knew that I was going to be something. I dropped out of school in the 12th grade.

I failed school because I had my daughter, she’s 13, and I felt like I couldn’t make money in school, so I was like “Man, I’ve got to get out of here and figure something out.” This is how that turned out.

You have your own label Bread Gang. Being an artist and running a label, how do you balance both?

I feel like, at this point in time, the platform that I’m on and with people paying so much attention to me, I don’t really have to do too much with the artists but post them, put them on the platform, shout them out, bring them to the shows and get their stuff distributed. You don’t really have to do too much. They’re not taking away from your craft when you’re at this point, when you’re at this level of the game.

You trying to make it and trying to get where I’m at, don’t do that, like saying “I’ve got an artist”. It’s too early for that. When you get to my level, it’s time to start reaching out and looking back and pulling people up the ladder. That’s where I feel like I’m at in my career right now. You always want to do stuff like that because it will help your whole situation live. Look at Cash Money, it’s the same situation.

Have you always had this business mindset?

It got sharper over time! I had to lose some money, had to mess it up, blow it and then get it right back. There were a lot of lessons learned.

Sunglasses – Gentle Monster, Trainers / Shirt – Louis Vuitton, Shorts – Prada

You and Yo Gotti and CMG The Label teamed up to release a compilation album called “Gangsta Art” on July 15th. Tell me more about that.

Of course, I’m a part of the label, it’s Yo Gotti’s label, but I’m a part of it. I’m a big factor, a big puzzle piece to the label… humbly speaking. I just feel like it was to help others, like I’ve got some of my Bread Gang artists on there as well. There are a lot of CMG artists on there too that I’ve collaborated with. It’s just trying to put the world on what’s going on.

Going back to what I was telling you, we’ve got to keep the whole situation going… after us, what’s there going to be? It’s really just about having fun, it was some summer music, stuff like that. We’re getting ready for the fall.

What kind of artists do you look to sign?

I feel like you’ve just got to be confident, and dedicated and you have to have a good mindset. You can have the talent but that doesn’t mean too much. There are a lot of talented people in the world, and there are a lot of people who can do something, but how far does your mind stretch? How do you think?

You can rap and get this money, but you can blow it and be in jail two weeks after on some dumb sh*t, or be dead. You’ve got to be a thinker, you’ve got to be ready to think. This is a thinker’s game for real, a game of chess.

Definitely. Which up-and-coming artists are you watching right now?

I’m watching Lil Macha, he’s hard, super hard. I feel like it’s this new Rich Homie Quan vibe mixed with a Rod Wave. One word: movie. I’ve got my eye on Lil Macha for sure. I’ve also got TripStar, Big30, Big Homie G, all of them are linked in. That’s the fam.

Lastly, your album reached Billboard, right?

Yes it did! It hit #1.

How did that make you feel?

It feels good, but that’s what I was aiming for with this album. With the last album, it got #3. When I first dropped my first album with the label, it debuted at #5. I came back the following year and debuted at #3, so it was always going that way. That’s what I love about longevity, it goes in steps and modes. You don’t just shoot to the top, they’ve got to see you working. Everybody in the game can vouch for me and everybody who’s been watching my campaign and situation, they can show you that it took me steps. They’ll say, “I watched him from here, all the way up to here.” I just feel like there was a whole process.

For real. What are your top 5 go-to luxury fashion brands?

I got Dior, Prada, Bottega Veneta, AMIRI… I like Moncler, but they’re more seasonal. I don’t think I’ve seen any summer drip from Moncler, they’re just hard. I feel like you can be freshest in the wintertime, you can just put it on when it’s cold outside.

What sneaker brands are you feeling right now?

I like Prada shoes. I wear a lot of Nike Air Force 1’s… I like Jordans, mainly retro Jordans. Stuff like that. That’s basically it.

How many tattoos do you have?

I got my whole body tatted, there’s no room.

Knitted hoodie – Celine, Jeans- Who Decides War, Trainers – Nike

In this generation now, especially with new artists who come and have blown up out of nowhere and haven’t really experienced the journey of working your way up, what advice would you give as a mentor and label to those that want the quick fix?

I’d rather hustle my way all the way to the top than hopping on a rocket and shooting right off. Unless you can follow up on the rocket, like if you were hustling like I was and you had rockets like ‘Time Today’, ‘Said Sum’ and ‘Wockesha’, them rockets. We’ve already seen my hustle so it’s perfect timing, it’s all timing for me. So, I’ll tell up-and-coming artists to just stay focused and have that tunnel vision, not everybody is going to see what you see at the beginning. You’ve got to be able to take constructive criticism and let people tell you, “This ain’t how to do it”… make sure to listen; that’s key. Listen and pay attention, that’s most definitely key. If they don’t get it, force it on them… that’s what I did. I made them see what it was.

What do you plan on dropping in the remainder of 2022? What can we look forward to?

My album… I’m closing the year out with my movie, around October or December. My album is going to drop in September, actually on my birthday. I’m going to start a ten to twelve-day tour, two days after my birthday and the first stop is going to be at the Phoenix Forum in Memphis… it’s going to be a movie. Then, I’m going to take it overseas.

Nice! Tell us a bit about the movie that you’ve got coming out.

It’s called ‘If Pain was a Person’ and it just explains a lot, that feeling of how I came from zero, where we started, what I did to get here… everything you had to shake and to get past. People are going to be like, “Damn, this man had to deal with this, I didn’t know Moneybagg went through this.” There’s a mixture of fiction and non-fiction because, you know, it’s a movie and you’ve got to put that in there. You can’t give people all of your life like that because I feel like they just know you. You don’t want to incriminate yourself either.

Finally, Describe your future in one word.

Larger than life.

Follow Moneybagg Yo on Instagram

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