Today, rising rap star Monaleo’s debut LP, Where the Flowers Don’t Die, hit streaming services. Monaleo got to celebrate at home in Houston with a very special person — her newborn. Monaleo completed the mixtape throughout the duration of her first pregnancy and gave birth earlier this week. Though she was due on May 29, after the tape’s release, she delivered on May 21, a few days after an interview with Rolling Stone.
Monaleo checked in with us today. “The baby and I are doing amazing!” she said via email. “I had a completely natural home birth/water birth. It was an amazing, empowering experience that I got to share with the matriarchs of my family. I’m now resting in bed with the world’s sweetest newborn, enjoying the fruits I bore both physically and musically.” Her partner in parenthood is the rapper Stunna 4 Vegas. In her latest music video, “Wig Splitter,” out today, she’s homebound and belly-out, awaiting her new arrival.
Where the Flowers Don’t Die represents a significant period of growth for Monaleo, who broke through two years ago with the single, “Beating Down Yo Block,” with a classic DJ Screw and Yungstar sample. She’s since toured with Flo Milli and released a handful of tough and funny singles and freestyles, including “We Not Humping” (with Flo on the remix) and a version of Chief Keef’s “Faneto.” Before finding success in music, Monaleo, born Leondra Roshawn Gay, was a student at Prairie View A&M University, considering a career in computer engineering. As a young girl, she had a difficult childhood, which she describes on the empowering single “Ridgemont Baby.”
“I didn’t really get a lot of reassurance at home. That’s not anyone’s fault. My mom was preoccupied with other things, so I never really grew up hearing that I was good enough,” she told Rolling Stone. “I always just fought to just be in people’s good graces, accepted, and feel that love. Because of those experiences, I created this persona, Monaleo, to really just vent and air out those frustrations and really just take my power back and be as assertive as I feel like I want to be. Because it’s just like I let a lot of shit slide that I should have never let slide.”
She thinks her hard work of making and releasing her first project while navigating her first pregnancy — which meant depression, recording sessions, and music video stunts that pushed her to her limits — will help her teach her child about resilience. “I think there’s a lesson in it: tenacity, being able to persevere, really committing to a goal, and being able to commit regardless of the circumstances,” she said.