“In general, my music is for bad bitches,” Harlem-born rapper Melii tells us in the latest episode of FREQUENCIES, The FADER's collaborative documentary series with WAV. Documenting her rise from lost free spirit in high school to the leader of the “Icey” revolution, the 22-year-old says she's on good terms with herself now, though she confesses, “it took me a while to love myself, but now that I do… I don’t want to hold back ever.” Melii says PS197, her high school, is “where I got corrupted” and where she dealt with bullying, which made her start rapping and taught her how to cut back at people. When she was 18, she dropped out of high school because her time in the studio was affecting it, assuring her mom: “I’m gonna go hard in this. I’m gonna do what I have to do to make it.”
“What people would say behind closed doors, I say in public," she says. "I didn’t care to say things that were vulgar because if that’s what I felt at that moment — and still to this day — I’m gonna say it.”
Despite that tumultuous school experience, Melii is thankful for her roots. "To be apart of Harlem, it’s a blessing,” she says. During that time, writing in her journal allowed her to express things she otherwise wouldn't have and she developed a love of poetry and making music. Her mood swings inform the eclectic type of music she likes to make — wild then toned down, but with a consistent message throughout of using her experience being bullied to encourage others to help one another. That’s the core of “Pretty Girls,” a song from her latest project, phAses, where she advocates to not “let one situation get you stuck.” High school Melii “wanted to wipe herself out,” but because of her supporters, she understands her purpose.
Melii may still be on the rise, but her freestyle at the beginning of the documentary is a perfect prophecy for her future: “Your bitch don’t know me now, but she’s gonna know me later.” Stream Melii's full episode of FREQUENCIES above.