The road to a success can be a long, winding one, but as Massachusetts-bred rapper Millyz knows, once things begin to look up, the journey starts to make sense. Hailing from the state's Cambridge area—the home of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—the then-aspiring rhymer was was just 14 years old when he started to jump into local rap battles and cyphers.
He started recording in the studio at 15, and dropped his first mixtape, Whiteboy Like Me, in 2009. The rhymer leaned into the white rapper label head on. Millyz is a street rapper through and through, rattling off punchlines and connecting thoughts about his time on the block clearly. He's also versatile, rapping over traditional hip-hop beats and the more modern trap sound.
Millyz dropped his first album, Future Memories, in 2013, which is the same year he met Jadakiss, an early supporter who became a close friend of his. Jada jumped onto the remix of Millyz's song "The Plug," in 2013. The initial track was already buzzing around New England, and the remix kicked off their musical relationship. A few years later in 2016, Millyz showcased his lyrical skills in the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher. Lucky for him, the MC got his shot i the cypher because one of the scheduled rappers missed the shoot. His appearance on the awards show, in which he rapped about race relations, police brutality and more, led into his radio freestyle run that took him to spit bars for the likes of Statik Selektah, Funk Flex and Sway, among others.
By 2018, Millyz kicked off his Blanco album series; by 2020's Blanco 3, he was starting to gain real traction on YouTube and at shows, amassing views and selling tickets at a rate higher than ever. With both videos for 2020's "Himalayas" and "Heightened Senses" featuring Jim Jones crossing a million views, a first for the rising artist, things were beginning to change.
This year, his collab EP, Pablo & Blanco, with Dave East arrived in May, shortly before Millyz's new album, Blanco IV, further bolstered his career. The new LP dropped on Aug. 20, and landed at the No. 93 spot on the Billboard 200 chart, a huge moment for a rapper who was giving out his own mixtapes back in 2009. The tracks from the album that are currently picking up momentum are "Emotions" with G Herbo and "Hopeless" featuring Jadakiss, both with videos that have crossed the million-views mark in under a month.
Nowhere near his finish line, Millyz speaks to XXL via phone for this week's edition of The Break.
Hometown: Cambridge, Mass.
I grew up listening to: "All the East Coast thorough shit, from Biggie Smalls to Mobb Deep, Hov, Nas, Dipset, D-Block, The Lox, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Boosie, Project Pat, like a plethora of artists. All rappers I feel are high-level rap."
My style’s been compared to: "I haven't had too many style comparisons. I'm unique in that way, but I do get a lot of people lately that have been saying I sound like Drake, and they say it in a negative way. I see it on the different blogs, in the comments, people be like, 'He got Drake's same voice,' 'He took Drake's voice,' which I don't personally hear, but I'd be lying if I said I don't see a lot of those comments. And they do it to certain songs. They say that about the one with me and Herbo ['Emotions'], they say that about my song 'Himalayas,' even on my L.A. Leakers freestyle!"
I’m going to blow up because: "I go back to just seeing everything go up. Everything's up across the board, and I was just in a meeting where I was telling my man, 'This is the first year where I got the money validation from rap.' I started working on this since 2008, but this year, I made more money than all of them years combined. So, I feel like that was also God showing me, 'You wasn't crazy, bro, all these years.' I can really say rap is my profession, for real, at a high level. That's what's letting me know I'm going in the right direction."
What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: "'Talking To Strangers' off the Blanco II album, that's one of the most honest, incredible, displays of lyricism that I feel came out in the last 10 years in rap music, period. That record is it. I encourage anyone to go listen to 'Talking To Strangers.' That's a pure record. I think I just wasn't as big at the time, so I can't say that they slept on that record, they was just sleeping on me as a whole. But even to now, I got a record on my new album [Blanco IV] called 'American Bully,' and that kinda came out and went under the radar, but we just seen Gillie in Philly, and now that shit is viral, like more than 2 million views on Facebook and Instagram."
My standout records to date have been: "'Hopeless' featuring Jadakiss and 'Emotions' featuring G Herbo. By the numbers, those are my first millions. Besides that, 'R.L.S.,' real life shit. That dropped at the height of the pandemic, and that touched a lot of people's souls. Those my big three right there."
My standout moments to date have been: "Making it on Billboard, you know, because that's a culmination of a lot of moments. That moment means a lot of other moments had to happen, but having top 100 album for sure. The day I did the interview, that same day, i got the call from [Dave] East, that he was in Bogota, and he was like, 'Yo, I'm thinking about going to Medellin. Let's shoot our video [for a song off Pablo & Blanco] out there." Literally walking out of XXL, he's like, 'Yo, I'm going there tomorrow.'
"So, I had to figure it out right there, and I got on the plane that next morning, and I got to Medellin and we shot the video that night. All under 24 hours, and that was my first million [views]. Even that day, being in XXL, that was the start of the gettin' poppin' journey."
Most people don’t know: "I'm a big R&B fan, like Boyz II Men fan. That definitely came from my childhood, and that's like a bond me and my mom would share. Boyz II Men, Dru Hill, all of those R&B groups. I really came up knowing every single ad-lib, singing them songs, and I feel like those songs kinda contributed to how I write music. They got something in their song structure. They make the song really climax at the height of the song around the third verse. So, they write up, and I try to write up. I like my bars to keep getting crazier and crazier towards the end of the 16 or 24, or the end of the record."
I’m going to be the next: "Artist that really lives in the hearts and souls of the American public, and the public worldwide. I'm a versatile artist. I'm one of the most versatile artists on God's green Earth. I rap at a high level, I sing, could make a flawless transition from boom-bap beats to trap beats. I spill my soul every time I step in the vocal booth."
"Emotions" featuring G Herbo
"Hopeless" featuring Jadakiss