We last caught up with Millyz in September 2017. At the time, his rise to stratospheric heights in hip-hop seemed imminent, with high-profile TV and radio appearances under his belt, a couple nascent anthems bubbling online, and enough rhymes to last through whatever trials he might face.
Two years later, the Cambridge native has come to inhabit a unique space in contemporary urban music. Millyz can crack raps worthy of any trap with the fiercest young gunners, and he’s also earned the respect of frequent iconic veteran collaborators like Jadakiss. On both sides of the game, his reputation is in steady incline.
With a nonstop stream of videos, new tracks, and freestyles coming from Millyz, in the lead-up to his Friday bash at Brighton Music Hall, I tossed a couple of quick questions at the Cambridge artist whose next homecoming show may very well be at the House of Blues.
Where are you at these days?
I live in New York, but I’m in Boston now. I’m back and forth.
You wrote on an Insta post not long ago, “Shit just be different now.” Please elaborate.
I think that came from just being out in Medellin [Colombia]. I’ve been there a few times, and now I was there shooting a video around beautiful girls. I caught the flight the night before. I got the call to shoot the video, we made it happen, and shit just be different now.
What’s it like for a hip-hop artist in your position? What do people not realize?
No days off, just showing up every day and starting to understand it’s more than just rapping that comes with this. It’s masterminding everything you have going on—marketing, understanding branding. And just showing up to work every day. It’s a weird job, but there’s no sleeping in. You have to rise and grind every day. That’s what made it tip since like 2016. Even though I have been grinding for ever, the BET cipher in 2016 really made it tip. I’ve been able to take my dream and bring it to fruition slowly but surely every day.
Rappers always talk about their teams. What does that mean for you? How does the Millyz machine work?
I moved to New York and got with Set Free, who is a cultural dude who is very influential. He taught me a lot as far as the business and everything. Over the past year, I also had a friend come out of jail. The whole time [he was away], we were talking about what we were gonna do, and since he got out he’s been helping me on the day to day management side, which really helps. He’s there for everything I need. And another homey is going to run all the merch. It’s pretty much the same team, but now I need to take people on the road.
How do you decide how to best spend your time? What’s no longer worth it for you to waste precious hours on any longer? And what’s next for you?
I always want to stay in the studio, but that’s one of the most terrifying things for an artist in my position, when you don’t know what’s coming next. Someone asked the other day if I ever thought of quitting, and I was like, Maybe a couple of times, for a brief moment. What seems so easy is to have the nine-to-five and the security, and a paycheck. Just the structure. I think that’s something that I never know. Until you’re booked around the year, it’s tough to know what’s coming next, so I just always try to keep the content coming. But on the day to day I don’t hang out. It’s crazy to me if someone’s even like, “Yo, let’s get a drink.” Someone can come to the club where I’m getting paid and we can kick it, but I don’t just hang out. That might be a detriment to certain relationships, but I feel like the older I get, every moment is more precious.
Rappers from the Boston area love to complain about the lack of local support that they get. But you seem to have locked down a pretty solid fan base around here, including with the college set. What’s your analysis on how good it is to come up through Mass channels?
A lot has shifted with the internet. There’s still a national stigma that holds us back, but it’s way easier to break through now. People support what’s hot on the internet. I been had support out here, but if I go up on [Sway’s Universe on SiriusXM], and it goes viral, what are people in Boston going to do, not support it? If it’s hot on the internet, people will support it here. In New York now I’m starting to get recognized a lot, but I feel a huge difference when I come back to Boston—I really get recognized everywhere I go, and it’s all love.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.