“I don’t like ni**as, I don’t like bi**hes, I don’t like nobody,” asserts Moneybagg Yo on his infectious song “Time Today.” Despite his catchy disdain for others, the 30-year-old rapper has countless supporters who admire his music.
The Memphis-bred artist had a breakout year in 2021, reaching career heights that only come to those who grind. Born DeMario White Jr., Moneybagg Yo has been active since 2012 and began gaining traction in 2016. Now, almost a decade from his start, the “Said Sum” rapper has gone from issuing scrappy, street-powered mixtapes to debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200—and he has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
On April 23, Moneybagg Yo released A Gangsta’s Pain, his fourth studio album and most commercially successful project thus far. The LP sold 110,000 units its first week, and returned to the No. 1 spot on the aforementioned Billboard chart in its third week. Even with all he’s accomplished, though, the “Bagg Move” rapper plans on expanding his territory in the music industry. His songs have become favorites of fans who like their rap music with heavy doses of bravado. And after a banner year in 2021, such momentous confidence seems primed for growth.
With A Gangsta’s Pain: Reloaded having dropped Oct. 22, VIBE caught up with Moneybagg Yo the next day at the Los Angeles stop on the deluxe album’s respective tour. Read our conversation with the newly-minted superstar below, as he reflects on the best year of his career.
This interview had been edited for length and clarity.
VIBE: We’re here in LA, you’re about to perform in front of a sold-out crowd. You’re at a new height in your career. How does that feel?
Moneybagg Yo: It feels good. It’s a blessing. I’m just in a mode right now. It’s tunnel vision for me. All I see is my end goal, and what I’m trying to accomplish.
What is that end goal?
Being on top of the game… Longevity.
Some people would say you’re already on top of the game right now. You have one of the best albums of the year.
The year. Exactly. But when I say [on top of the game], I’m saying for everything… You’re speaking on music. I’m saying clothes, movies, all-around brands, different stuff. This is the space I’m in. Building the celebrity up.
Which are you looking to get into next— movies or fashion?
Right now I’m working on a movie. How it’s looking, it’s going to come out with my next album, at the top of the year, or something like that. I have the clothing, of course, we’re doing good with the merch. The merch is doing so good to where it’s like, it just opened my mind up for the clothing. I like to get fly anyway so I feel like it’s just another lane I can attack.
You just released the deluxe version of your album with new songs. My personal favorite is “Switches & Dracs.” How did that collaboration with EST GEE and Lil Durk come together? What was it like working with them?
I got a lot of other records with them that I already had. [How] that record came about, me and Durk were actually in the studio and he recorded it in the room with everybody. He did it, and then the police actually came in the studio, and it was some [other] sh*t happening, so we ended up having to leave. So, we were like, “We just gon’ pick this up.” We had done like eight bars, but it’s like the same amount of chorus, so I was like, man we just gon’ leave Durk on the chorus when the time came. Then I’m like bet, I could put EST on it, put [Pooh] Shiesty on [the extended version], make it a real mood.
A few weeks ago, I took a trip to Memphis and spoke with DJ Paul of Three 6 Mafia and he named you as one of his favorite Memphis rappers. How does it feel to hear that?
That’s live. At this point in my career, I feel like I have the city on my back. I’m putting on. I’m making everybody in the city proud. I’m making the team proud. For somebody like DJ Paul, a legend like that, to even say that about me feels good. Even people like Pusha T, Pharrell—when people say that, it makes me feel good. Like I’m in the right lane.
How was your experience working with Pharrell?
I learned some stuff from the session, as far as how to build the whole record up. Start from scratch, in the foundation, and just build. When I first came in, when we first did that record [Certified Neptunes], I wasn’t feeling it (laughs). It was too different for me. Sometimes, going out of where I’m at is like nah. But then, he was like, “Don’t trip, we gon’ make it right.”
What are some of your favorite songs to perform?
Of course, “Wockesha,” “Time Today,” “Said Sum,” “Don’t Kno,” “Doin 2 Much.” It varies, really. I have a lot of them.
You’ve been working for years; this didn’t just happen overnight. What kind of message do you have for your fans who have been here for your whole career?
You gotta stay down, you got to have tunnel vision, and never give up. Of course, when you first start people ain’t gon’ see your vision how you see it… You have to be able to give self-constructive criticism, that’s important. No matter how big you get in the game, you gotta stay coachable. You gotta stay a student of the whole situation to where you understand that you don’t know everything.
You mentioned earlier that at the top of the year we can be expecting something new. What do we have to look forward to?
I got a project I’m gonna [release] like I was telling you, then I got the movie connected to it. It was supposed to be like this for the deluxe. I say that every time (laughs) but nah for real, we’re trying to get it right. We want to make sure it’s the best. It’s like when I was doing my first record. I was trying to go hard when I put that first Federal album out. I was trying to collect the streets. I wanted the streets to embrace me so bad. I had to take my time. That’s what I’m doing with the movie, I’m taking my time with it. I’m getting it right because it’s the first time we’re ‘bout to see me on the screen.
What’s the movie called and what is it about?
It’s called If Pain Was A Person, and it’s about Memphis. It’s about the whole scene and how you come up with the odds against you. You know… Regular sh*t.