Interview by Ronit Pinto and Sam C. Long; article by Jaime Lubin; photography by Sam C. Long; styling by Shannon Hoey and New York Vintage
“Always remember it’s a blessing to be here,” says Mellow Rackz. “Appreciate every moment, because life is short.”
At just 20 years old, the singer-songwriter-rapper knows wherefrom she speaks. She is one of hip hop’s hottest rising stars, signed to the prestigious label Young Money, founded by Lil Wayne and operated by president Mack Maine. Despite her age, the artist is a savvy entrepreneur and emotionally wise beyond her years, dispensing soulful wisdom along with her powerful beats. Surviving an early life full of violence and the challenges of teenage motherhood, she’s ascended beyond personal tragedies to become an inspiration for young people all over the world.
Mellow Rackz, Young Money's Breakout Star
The past year has seen Mellow Rackz engaged in a whirlwind of activity: As a South Florida native, she was named Miami’s Best New Hip Hop Act of 2022; her singles “Diamonds” and “What I Want” premiered to international acclaim (the latter garnering over 1.4 million views on YouTube and charting at number 5 on Billboard’s Hot 100); and she’s been a showstopper at a bevy of major events from Rolling Loud to Lil Wayne’s Lil Weezyana Fest, even appearing on the red carpet at the BET Awards. Said to have “the best smile in hip hop,” Mellow Rackz is also known for her stunning freestyle over DJ Khaled’s track “God Did” that went viral this September. A proud cannabis advocate, she headlined the inaugural GKUA VIP Series – a live concert series in collaboration between Young Money, Lil Wayne’s GKUA Ultra Premium cannabis brand, and Weedmaps – that brought the ultimate plant-infused music and dance party to San Francisco’s iconic venue Temple SF.
Mellow Rackz’s latest single “Rich Bitch Party” (featuring a cover image from Honeysuckle’s own Sam C. Long, Ronit Pinto and Shannon Hoey) was released on October 11th, becoming an instant streaming sensation and a popular choice as a TikTok audio clip. A high-octane music video is in the works.
“It’s a fucking club banger,” the performer enthuses of the track. “I hope you guys love it, ‘cause that shit is hot.”
Where Did Mellow Rackz Grow Up?
Nothing can slow down this superstar – except, perhaps, a thoughtful conversation on life, music and values. When Mellow Rackz met up with Team Honeysuckle in Miami for our photo shoot and interview, the artist turned out a dazzling session for the cameras before settling in to answer serious questions with such grace and maturity, you could swear she’s been doing this since birth.
In some ways, she has. Born Melody Faith, Mellow Rackz grew up in what she describes as a “broken home” in one of Broward’s roughest neighborhoods, which taught her to be self-sufficient as far back as she can remember. Though she has a tight bond with her Haitian-born mom, she relates that being one of five children made for a tough early environment.
“We’re four girls, one boy,” she explains. “My brother had mental problems. Four girls were always fighting. It was innocent at home, but I turned to the streets for – I don’t know, fun, love, just to escape.”
Between her street activities, which would eventually get her kicked out of high school, the talented girl found a safe haven in music. She sang in her church choir, and although she didn’t enjoy much of her formal education in Catholic school, she believes singing makes her feel closer to God.
“You can connect with people and you can change someone else’s life through your art,” she notes, when asked why she loves music. “I feel like it needs to be appreciated.”
Surviving Trauma Through Music: Mellow Rackz's Motivation
Putting her faith in music would later be key to her survival. Before the age of 18, Mellow Rackz became a mother, and less than a year later, she was shot just outside her mother’s house. The bullet went through her stomach and out her back. Recuperating in the hospital, the tenacious young woman lived up to her name. She recalls “humming through the pain” and making melodies and lyrics to soothe herself, pulling through with all her might to ensure that her son would not be left parentless.
“I like to just express myself and vent through the music,” she comments. “Put it in the music, you do it, and you just leave it there… Trauma ages you. I could say having a child at a young age aged me too. I have a kid, so now I have to grow up. But nothing will distract me. Once I have my mind set on one thing, I’m going to get it done for sure.”
Her incredible work ethic and fighting spirit were noticed by Cleopatra Bernard, mother of the late rapper XXXtentacion. It was Bernard who brought Mellow Rackz to the attention of Mack Maine at Young Money. Maine noticed her star power immediately, signing her to a Young Money contract with lightning speed.
Meeting Young Money: How Have Mack Maine and Lil Wayne Mentored Mellow Rackz?
“Shout-out to Mack Maine for changing my life,” Mellow Rackz asserts. “First time in the studio with Mack, he gravitated to everything [I was doing]. He likes singing, rap, pop. He’s open to trying different things. [He encourages me] to not be in one lane, but be an artist.”
Both Mack Maine and Lil Wayne have mentored the developing prodigy. Calling Lil Wayne’s musical catalogue “timeless,” Mellow Rackz shares how the iconic rapper has inspired her with his own dedication to the craft: “The one thing I heard Wayne say is, ‘Just go so hard. They can’t compare you to nobody. Just keep working.’ He does like 30-hour studio sessions. He works so hard still to this day. And I’m like, what the hell? He’s filthy rich and he’s still working. The work never stops, because he’s really an artist. On his face he has a tattoo that says, ‘I am music.’ He really is because he does not stop working. So it makes me want to go harder. Why am I taking any breaks if he’s still going hard? He had an interview where [he said] he still goes back in and changes his verses. So when I heard that, I started going through all my old verses like, how can I make this song bigger? All about elevation. How can it get better? I’m always just focused on improving. If I feel like I’m the best, I can’t improve. So I don’t think I’m the best. I’m still learning every day. This music is really magical and powerful.”
For this luminary, art truly means everything. Referring to herself as “an old soul,” she mentions that her favorite songs belong to classic rap albums from the 90s, with some mixes of even earlier eras like Motown and old-school Marvin Gaye. “Cupid” by R&B group 112 stands out as one of her most beloved songs of all time.
“I’m just waiting on real music to come back,” she observes. “Right now people are just making catchy hooks and twerk songs. I feel there’s more to music than just talking about our feminine parts.”
Mellow Rackz on Women in Music, Motherhood and Dating
The double standard that women face in the music industry could have become a sore spot for Mellow Rackz; her youth and aesthetic, she says, have allowed many to judge her without knowing her. “People feel like I had it easy, but I don’t,” she admits. “A lot of people have been at this for a minute, but I feel like my life has generally not been easy. I do go through a lot being in this position and being signed to Young Money. That’s a big name to carry with you. I feel sometimes people are automatically like, ‘Oh, she thinks she’s better because she’s signed there.’ I try to stay humble, but I hate that sometimes I do catch myself dumbing myself down to be accepted.”
That’s an aspect of self-improvement she’s constantly working on. However, outside the studio, Mellow Rackz’s life is fully transparent as to the person she is and what matters. It’s all about creating a happy, healthy environment for herself, her son, and her family.
“As long as I keep the bills paid, [my son] will be fully taken care of,” she states. “My kid has to be with my mom or my aunt [if I’m not there]. No strangers, nobody else. People are crazy. I work hard so my family can be comfortable. Blood is thicker than water; always stand on that.”
And when it comes to dating, she’s just as candid and self-reliant. “In this industry, you really need a friend. I don’t really think you need a man. You need more than sex – I need more than just pleasure. Like I need someone for my mental health, a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to, to vent, to get advice. So I don’t really focus on dating. I focus on building a bond, the strongest bond. And you never know, if we ride it out, we can get married one day. It’s all about time. You’ve gotta put that time in, you know?”
How Does Mellow Rackz Consume Cannabis?
One area she knows she has a bond? The cannabis plant. “Once I’m done doing what I gotta do, I get high as fuck,” she grins. “I use it to relax, for anxiety. It depends on my mood and my headspace, who I’m around. Lately it was making my anxiety worse, so I took a break, but I’m a big stoner though, for sure.”
When in the studio, the singer often includes smoking a blunt as part of her creative process. “For freestyling, you need to smoke!” she declares with certainty. But she’s pretty sure that Lil Wayne or Wiz Khalifa could still out-smoke her any day.
What's Next For Mellow Rackz?
We expect big things to come from Mellow Rackz, and frankly, so does she. Though she remains true to herself always, she is interested in the dichotomy between the woman at home and her public persona. “Oh my God, it’s like I get to be a whole nother person,” she laughs. “I never thought it could be like I’m a superhero, but it’s Melody and there’s Mellow Rackz. Melody is waking up in my house with a t-shirt on, making sure my son is potty trained. So I’m making sure my son don’t pee on the floor, and then cleaning – I don’t do maids, I clean my own place. I like to be regular, chilling. And then boom, I get a phone call, ‘Perform.’ So it’s like now I go put my costume on, makeup on, I’m onstage like, ‘What’s up?’ It’s a whole other world. A whole other me. I get to be a superhero, and I really feel like I’m going to change the world. Once I reach my peak and get to branch off into different things and express the things that I really want to express.”
On that note, she wants to remind young women who aspire to be in the music industry to “be yourself. Be authentic and don’t listen to what anyone says. Chase your dreams and don’t stop. And when they don’t believe in you, make them believe.”
With her refreshingly genuine nature, her poise under pressure, and pedal-to-the-metal attitude, Mellow Rackz has definitely made us believers. We can’t wait for the achievements coming out from the next phase of her unchained melody.
For more about Mellow Rackz, follow her on Instagram at @mellowrackz and on the Mellow Rackz YouTube channel.
A version of this article was originally published in Honeysuckle's milestone 15th print edition. Click here to get your copy now!