Moneybagg Yo is in the midst of the biggest moment of his career. With the headlines about his personal lifeswirling, the Memphis rhymer reconnected with his gritty street roots to lock in and produce another robust body of work, with the third installment of his Heartless series, 43VA HEARTLESS.
Between the striking artwork –featuring a liver dipped in red paint, acting as 'Bagg's heart on the operating table — and a shrewd guest list to properly complement his skillset, 43VA HEARTLESS is a mixtape that could've doubled as the 27-year-old's follow-up to RESET, his 2018 debut LP.
The hard work also paid off on the charts, where the Memphis native bested the likes of YG to debut at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, his highest placement on the chart to date. The CMG affiliate even secured the elusive LeBron James co-sign, with The King posting a clip jamming out to the explosive Offset-assisted standout "Style Ain't Free" to his IG story.
Big Speaker's rise has even vaulted him into becoming the subject of tabloid fodder during the first half of the year. Rumors continue to run rampant of his relationship status with emerging superstar Megan Thee Stallion, as her rabid Hotties have turned into CIA agents, closely monitoring their every interaction. Some publications even tried to frame the "Doin 2 Much" rapper as the reason Love & Hip-Hop reality star, Karlie Redd, broke off her engagement, after she hopped in one of his IG Live sessions.
Moneybagg isn't backing down from any of the wide-ranging questions during our chat, realizing this is what comes with the territory of being a mainstream rapper in 2019, but says he doesn't pay it too much mind. "I already know the Internet is going to try to take little stuff and run with it," he explained. "I don't really try to get too caught up, because it will throw me off my focus."
Check out the rest of our interview with Moneybagg Yo below, as he dishes on several 43VA HEARTLESS tracks, plans for his next album, finding his name in the headlines, and talking to Lil Durk before he turned himself in.
Billboard: How did it feel to notch the highest new hip-hop album on the Billboard 200 this week? You beat out YG with 40,000 units sold.
Moneybagg Yo: I'm just grateful for my situation and all my fans. They try to make it a competition, but I'm not really with all that. If I do what I'm supposed to do, then I'm cool with it. I really feel like I reset it again.
What made you want to go with such striking artwork for 43VA HEARTLESS?
You gotta understand shock value and get the people's attention. A lot of people told me it was crazy. Instead of going with the normal mixtape cover, I wanted to get a little more creative with it. I got a liver, and set it up like it was a video shoot. We dipped it in some red paint and made it look like blood.
Does that come from you having an artistic background growing up?
Yeah, exactly. I used to do that when I was growing up, but I'm rusty right now. I used to know how to draw.
What was the recording process like for the project?
When I did Reset, I was in Los Angeles, Miami, and all that. I wanted to come with a different approach to get the streets back and let them know I didn't go anywhere. I got a studio built in my house, so I was recording there in Memphis and Atlanta. Those two environments give me that street feel. I'm gonna make the world get on what I want to be on. I just want to take my story to a whole new level. This is what they love about me, but on another level with the album.
How did "Style Ain't Free" with Offset come together? That's a really strong record.
That was actually a freestyle, but this style ain't free. We recorded that the day before the project came out. It was a freestyle, and I put a trailer video on Instagram. When I put it on IG, Offset said it was going crazy. He DM'd me like, "Send me that joint. I want to hop on it." The rest was history.
LeBron James even reposted it.
Yeah, that's hard. Appreciate the King on that one.
Nah, we're just cool. It's nothing against the whole situation. I already know the Internet is going to try to take little stuff and run with it. I don't really try to get too caught up because it will throw me off my focus.
Did you talk to Lil Durk before he turned himself in? You had him join you for "On My Soul."
Yeah, I talked to Durk right before he went in. We were supposed to actually be shooting the video for it, but this unfortunate situation happened. I had just made a post on my IG that let the world know to free Lil Durk. I appreciate his love on the verse.
How does it feel to look back on having Akon call to sign you when you were just starting out?
I haven't talked to him in a minute, but when I look back on it, it helped me understand that stuff was going to get real. That really built my confidence up and let me know who I was.
Is the album also coming this summer?
Yeah, album on the way real soon. It's going to be better than 43VA HEARTLESS. This time, we're going to the No. 1 spot. It feels good to be No. 4, but I want something better than that. We're going to do that on this next project. You're going to hear me in that same mold of what the streets want and delivering what the the streets need. The stuff everyone's scared to say, I'm just gonna say it.
How about the 24 Hours short film?
Yeah, that should be dropping in a couple weeks. I'm putting the finishing touches on there. I can't wait for the fans to get that. You're going to see a whole other side of me. It's going to open the doors to the film side of the business. I hear my fans all the time being like, "Who is Moneybagg Yo?" They want to know who I am. I'm just going to show them all of it.
It was a crazy situation they put me in. That was my first time ever talking to her on that Live. The internet is going to try to run off with that. I always go on Live and accept people into there and we'll communicate and let the world see. It was a funny headline.