Monaleo may be one of the brightest rising stars coming out of Houston’s hip-hop scene, but she will be the first one to admit that there’s a real person behind the microphone. And that person is going through it. “I’d like to be able to meet the people that support me in person, but I feel as though, live, I just suck,” she says during the new episode of Tidal’s RISING. “There are so many things that I’m feeling,” she says, adding that she has struggled with “really bad social anxiety.”
“When they hand me the microphone, I can literally feel my hands shaking,” says 21-year-old rap songstress. “I want to be candid and transparent about this, so people will be a little bit more – not sympathetic, but empathetic – so that they understand, sometimes I wake up and I don’t want to rap. I don’t feel like rapping. And that should be okay.”
“I want to continue to build my Legacy as a Human first and Artist second. Every day is different for me as I perfect my musicianship, grow as a person, and explore my creativity,” she tells HollywoodLife. “I constantly make mistakes and fall short but that’s the beautiful part about being alive. Every day is an opportunity to become a better version of yourself. Remember to give yourself grace as you try to navigate this thing called life. Thank you to TIDAL Rising for the opportunity to control my narrative and tell my story my way. Make sure you check out my documentary episode to better understand me and my journey as an independent artist.”
TIDAL’s Rising program is the platform’s vertical dedicated to empowering up and coming artists while introducing listeners to the biggest names of tomorrow. Rising alumni include such household names as Alessia Cara, 21 Savage, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, and Chloe x Halle. The video installments give fans the unique opportunity to peek behind the curtain and connect with their favorite artists as they openly talk about their careers, the meaning behind their music, and their struggles.
Monaleo also explains in the episode how she “bottled up” a lot of her feelings because she didn’t want to make others around her uncomfortable. “Saying out loud, ‘you know what? That happened to you. I wasn’t there, I didn’t see it, but I believe you, and I’m sorry that it happened. I wish I would have been there. But, because I wasn’t there, what can I do now to be there and be supportive of you.’ As opposed to saying that, they say, ‘ah, that sh-t. that didn’t happen.’ … They just don’t create a safe space for people who are victims of abuse to even feel comfortable sharing that.”
She also reveals that not voicing these issues affected her career. “I always felt like I was grossly misunderstood because I let everybody else tell my story for me,” she says, adding that she was unfairly labeled “selfish” and “stand-offish” when she was just really dealing with the issues in her head. “When I became an adult, I realized the importance of being able to tell my story because I want people to understand where I’m coming from. That’s why I think it’s important to create and control your own narrative. If you leave it up to the people around you, they will kind of mishandle your legacy.”
Tidal’s Rising aims to support and empower up-and-coming artists like Monaleo, and it’s something she’s happy to pay forward. Throughout the RISING episode, she takes viewers on a journey from her humble beginnings to the superstar-in-the-making she is today. “I’m a peculiar individual, and you know what? I’ve made peace with that,” says the “Suck It Up” rapper. She admits that she keeps a lot of her thoughts to herself, and when she does speak her mind, it’s often “satirical” as a way to help turn a negative into a positive. That perspective has helped her art.
“It’ll be how I’m really feeling but packaged in a way that is receptive to the general masses,” she says. “It kind of makes light of situations that would have otherized hindered me emotionally or would have me stuck in a place negativity, and stuck in a place of anger and aggression.”
“The lesson to be learned,” says Monaleo, “is to just, and I know it’s very cliché, but to love yourself, value yourself, point out the characteristics about yourself that you love, and capitalize on those characteristics so that they override any negative feelings you may ever feel about yourself.”