Moneybagg Yo Tells DJ Khaled Why This Is Just the Beginning

By DJ Khaled

Photographed by David Flinn

Styled by Alexa Lanza

July 2, 2021
Moneybagg Yo. Tank by Heron Preston for Calvin Klein.

Future has “Codeine Crazy,” Lil Wayne has “Me and My Drank,” and now, Moneybagg Yo has “Wockesha.” As the hit single from his latest album A Gangsta’s Pain, “Wockesha” samples the classic song “One More Chance” by The Notorious B.I.G, as Moneybagg waxes poetic about his love of lean. The Memphis-born rapper cites the aforementioned artists, along with Boosie, Juvenile, and Yo Gotti, as his primary inspirations for his gritty yet infectious wordplay. After years of releasing a slew of mixtapes and albums, A Gangsta’s Pain serves as the rapper’s first number one album, and, as he puts the finishing touches on the Deluxe Edition, Moneybagg hopped on a call with DJ Khaled to discuss working with Pharrell, the joys of flipping samples, and why a number one album is just the beginning. — JULIANA UKIOMOGBE

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DJ KHALED: Moneybagg, what’s good?

MONEYBAGG YO: What’s poppin’, bro?

KHALED: First of all, congratulations. Not just on the number one album, but on everything. I always tell this story. I say, “Yo, Moneybagg pulled up on me one time at the Apollo in New York City.” And that’s the first time I really got to chop it up with you face to face. Either way, I was a fan. I always seen that you had the ambition to be where you at now. And the thing is that you’re just getting started.

MONEYBAGG YO: I swear, it’s the beginning right here.

KHALED: Before we talk about the album and the hit records, I want to talk about your hustle and grind. I always tell everybody, “Hard work pays off.” You know what I’m saying? When you work hard and don’t complain, and you just go for it and go get it, dreams come true. Is that how you feel?

MONEYBAGG YO: It’s exactly how I feel, bro. Most definitely. Everybody don’t see your vision, they don’t get where you’re going. You’ve got to force it on them, make them believe in you and just keep doing you, because you’re the only one that can see where you want to go. You feel me?

KHALED: Absolutely. Now let’s talk about this album. First of all, you put out many projects and you’ve been so consistent. And I always say, “Consistency is key.” But this album, I felt like it was everything you was doing, but it’s like, “All right, guys, I’m going to give you this. This is my new chapter to show you where I’m about to go. Don’t play. You know I’m here and I’m special.” I felt like you was like, “You know what? I’m here to stay.”

MONEYBAGG YO: Damn, you took all the words out my mouth, Khaled.

KHALED: I feel it because everybody got their own story and their own grind. I come from hard work. I come from being a visionary where they might not see it in the beginning, but they gonna get it later. What’s special about this album is that it not only went number one, but it went back to number one.

MONEYBAGG YO: It’s crazy.

Vest by Diesel. Mock Neck by dertbag. Pants by Les Benjamins. Hat, Sunglasses, and Jewelry (worn throughout) Moneybagg Yo’s own.

KHALED: No, it’s incredible. I want you to know that’s not regular. I want to give you your flowers, because that’s a big accomplishment. My favorite track is the one with the “One More Chance” sample, what’s the name of that song?

MONEYBAGG YO: “Wockesha.”

KHALED: You know I like flipping samples, but that one was done right. And the way you was flowing on that, you was letting the beat breathe and you was like, “Okay, I’m going to show you how to do this shit in 2021.” Talk to me about how you made that record. Was it a beat you had in mind? Was it an idea you came up with? What made you write that song? Take me back to that studio day.

MONEYBAGG YO: I was sitting in the studio, and to be honest, we were just going through a lot of samples. But I really went in with the mindframe to do a song about lean, like how Future had all the songs about codeine. And Wayne did “Me and My Drank.” I was looking for that type of vibe. I’m going through different samples, and then Ashanti spoke to me when she’s saying, “One minute, I want you. One minute, I’m running back to you.” So I’m like, “Damn. This is exactly the point I’m trying to get across right there.” I flipped it and put it in a way where I’m like, “I’m going to talk about what I talk about, but I’m going to act as if I’m speaking to a woman.” I just caught the vibe right there.

KHALED: You mentioned Future, you mentioned Wayne. Who are some of the artists that inspire you to be Moneybagg Yo? Obviously, you got your own sound, your own style, but everybody gets inspired and motivated by certain artists. Who did you grow up with, like, “Yo, I want to be like that.”

MONEYBAGG YO: Growing up, before I took rap seriously, the dope boys and the top kingpins in the streets were my role models. But then when I started developing a passion for music, people like Boosie, Juvenile, Gotti, Future, Wayne became them. Everything about their life, I just fell in love with.

KHALED: I love everybody you named. Matter of fact, congratulations to Yo Gotti and yourself for the new partnership. So is there another album in the works, or are you going to just continue working this album?

MONEYBAGG YO: This album is so special to the point where I want to run with it forever, you feel me? I feel like I waited 9, 10 months to put music together because I had to experience things, I had to live life, I had to go through pain and overcome. So I just feel I want to stretch it out a little more before I come out with another album. But I’m most definitely working on a Deluxe, and I’m working on a movie, and I’m working on a clothing line. It’s going to be crazy.

Jacket by Moncler. Top by John Elliot.

KHALED: I love to hear all that. That means you’re focused. How was it working with Jhené Aiko?

MONEYBAGG YO: That was a beautiful vibe. She’s a good person. It was a learning experience, too, with her and Pharrell. I picked up a lot of stuff off them, like how to sketch a record.

KHALED: Speaking of Pharrell, what I love about Pharrell is that he stays timeless. Talk to me about working with him.

MONEYBAGG YO: He invited me to his studio. We did three records and I used two of them. The vibe was so pure. I’m going in the studio like, “Damn. I know Pharrell is going to want me to just rap on top of the shit.” It put pressure on me. But when I got around him, the chemistry was already there, and he was loving me the same way, you feel me?

KHALED: That’s dope. Did Moneybagg Yo know that this album was going to perform like this?

MONEYBAGG YO: No, but every time somebody heard a song, everyone was saying the same thing. But, you know, a nigga always get that adrenaline rush when it’s the day before at 12 o’clock. You start wondering if they’re going to rock with it. I’m just happy they embraced it, bro.

KHALED: Real sharp. Who are Moneybagg’s top five MCs? I want to know two different generations of top fives. So a top five right now and top five from the past.

MONEYBAGG YO: Growing up I was listening to Puff and Biggie. I like Common. He did this song with a group from Detroit called Selfish or something. And then all the people that I just named to you like Boosie, Wayne, Juvenile, Future, Gotti, them people right there.

KHALED: Who do you think is top five right now? You can put yourself in this. If you ask me, I’m going to say Khaled, and I don’t even rap.

MONEYBAGG YO: I feel like me, myself, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, Pooh Shiesty, and Polo G.

KHALED: I like everybody you said, because everybody delivers. With Lil Baby, seeing how amazing he’s doing, his work ethic and the music he’s putting out, it’s been incredible. That work ethic is what really inspires me when I work with artists. I get that feeling from you. I can tell you work every day, but at the same time, you’re accessible to get on the phone to make music. And I love that.

MONEYBAGG YO: Exactly.

KHALED: How’s it feel to go back home?

MONEYBAGG YO: When I go back home, I feel like Michael Jackson in Memphis. They love me.

KHALED: What’s your favorite place to perform besides Memphis?

MONEYBAGG YO: D.C., Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Chicago.

KHALED: I like that. So what’s something that people might not know about Moneybagg Yo?

MONEYBAGG YO: I listen to R&B when I ain’t rapping. It’s soothing, it relaxes my mind, it takes me to different places, and it just opens up my brain.

Coat by Givenchy. Top by dertbag. Pants by Les Benjamins. Shoes by Nike x Comme des Garçons Foamposite.

KHALED: What’s that song you did when you said, “Something on my wrist, I got the time today?”

MONEYBAGG YO: It’s called “Time Today.”

KHALED: When that shit came on, I ain’t gon’ lie, I felt that a little different. It’s like, Moneybagg is in his bag right now. You know when you’re in your bag, you’re in your bag. Oh shit, man. So right now you’re promoting this album and working on the Deluxe.

MONEYBAGG YO: Most definitely. I’m stuck in CEO-mode right now. I was looking to just put my brothers on, but it put me in a crazy position. So now that I’m doing that, when I ain’t focused on me, I’m focused on they music.

KHALED: I just want you to keep doing what you’re doing, because right now, after this album, it’s like, I want more. I’m not saying make an album tomorrow, I’m just saying get on a feature, give it to them. But this album, some might bump it, suddenly the whole world is bumping. And I just love the whole story behind it. You said you took a break to get this album. You recorded it a certain way, the way you wanted to. You put some features on there. You worked with producers maybe people didn’t think you was going to ever work with. You got Polo G on there. Then you got Future. And then Jhené Aiko. It’s a mixture. And I think I seen today, somebody tweeted saying, “He could do it all, don’t put him in a box. The man can rap over this type of rap and this type of record.” And I love that about you.

MONEYBAGG YO: Appreciate that, bro, especially coming from you.

KHALED: I remember you telling me you were supposed to send me something. Don’t tell me it was the “One More Chance” one, don’t tell me it was that record. Or “Time Today.” If it was one of those records, I’m like, hold up, send one of them things one day.

MONEYBAGG YO: No. I got you. I got a hard drive full of it.

KHALED: And then when I start working again, we gotta get together and do something. When you do start working on the new album, let me know when you like 80 percent done, so I could try to come and produce something for you.

MONEYBAGG YO: Most definitely. That’s love. Appreciate you bro.

KHALED: My brother, congratulations on all your success. I’m here anytime you need me. Keep winning. Don’t stop and keep inspiring, brother, aight?

MONEYBAGG YO: Love, bro.

KHALED: Love, brother. Salute.

———Grooming: Miguel Lledo using La Prairie . Fashion Assistant: Julia Olney


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