Moneybagg Yo patiently waited for his hour to shine. After securing a No.1 album this year, the Memphis rapper has his eyes riveted on movie roles and executive aspirations.
Interview: Bianca Torres
Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the summer 2021 issue of XXL magazine, on the stands now.
With nearly a decade of hip-hop behind him, 20 in-depth projects and 12 gold and platinum certifications, Money bag Yo finally receives her flowers. His fourth studio album, The pain of a gangsta, which fell in April, reached the No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart twice in May. The project is carried by the successful single “Time Today. “He managed to hit DJ Khaled’s Khaled khaled The coveted first position LP, securing Bagg’s second week at No.1. In an age when hip-hop is still feeling the negative effects of the pandemic without limited touring and shows, the 29-year-old artist understands the blessing that ‘he is received with this realization.
Bagg, who signed to Yo Gotti’s CMG label and Interscope Records in 2016, has a proven track record of success with his recent releases. Over the past year and a half, the Memphis native has enjoyed a streak of success leading up to his album. Now the respected rhymer, born DeMario DeWayne White Jr., is focusing on his next The pain of a gangsta luxury album, which will feature Lil Durk, Pooh Shiesty and EST Gee, among others. After the release of the LP this summer, he will continue with I stamped that, a mixtape compilation featuring artists from his own independent label, Bread Gang.
On a sunny May afternoon, Bagg, who wears a gray Gallery Dept. with a black hat fitted in the back, is in a good mood. As he rolls into the backseat of a black SUV in New York City, the frontman of Bread Gang talks about his # 1 album, the knowledge he gained from Yo Gotti, life decisions, artists from his growing list of labels and the reasons he doesn’t want his kids to follow in his rap footsteps.
XXL: How does it feel to have your album The pain of a gangsta go to # 1 twice in the same month?
Yo Money Bag: It feels good. Twice in a year, it’s hard. It is a blessing. This is my real life. It’s like, without music I feel like I’m nothing, you know what I’m saying? Like me, I have a real passion for this game and it’s just driving. I keep this drive. With The pain of a gangsta, it took me almost a year to complete this project. Because I had to live. I had to go through things. I had to continue living like I was human too.
You mentioned on your song “FR” from the album: “Forgive me if you met me on the Percs, it was the worst days. Why did you want to talk about it on the song?
Yeah, because I was just… It made you worse. Sometimes, Wockesha can do that too. Like, it might make you worse, but that’s why I’m saying, I feel like when people do that they’re supposed to take the drugs, don’t let the drugs get you. So I feel like I’m using it to the best of my ability. I don’t care. I don’t do anything like that.
Why did you stop taking Percs?
I just wanted to be more disciplined with the lifestyle and just, Oh, does that affect me that way? I’ll eliminate that. I’m going to stop with this because it does that. I want to do something. I want to be like this so I have to make an effort to achieve it. This is discipline.
How has life changed for you since your affair with Yo Gotti and Interscope?
It has changed enormously. I go to the cinema, to clothes, [the] real estate game. I understand the value of simple watches. And I also try to balance real life with that. I am at this point. Because you have to give your family time. You have to try to fit it somehow and find that balance. This is where I am at the moment.
What did Gotti teach you?
It put me on the real estate game and the simple watch wave. He put me on this whole wave. And then, you know, someone said to me, it always marked me from the first time I signed with him, it’s just chasing his dreams, then you’re going to run after the money. Or you don’t even run after the money. You chase your dreams and you will be able to count all the money that will happen to you. It stuck with me.
How do you balance being an artist and getting your Bread Gang label off the ground?
When you do this you understand that people are struggling. I know what they are going through and what they are going through. At the same time, I feel like you have to have people in place for that. You are building, you have to start somewhere.
So I don’t want to start when I get like… when you feel like you’re done with rap, then I’m gonna start a label. No. You have to go on and get ready, you have to butter it. You have to prepare to become the biggest brand in the world. So I feel like that’s what I’m trying to do with Bread Gang.
What are you doing to butter it?
I have artists like Big30, TripStar, like pressure. I also have this R&B singer that I’m about to release. I feel like it’s okay to drag them around while I’m hot. Just like [Lil] Wayne did it with Drake and Nicki [Minaj]. he was still going [and] he took them with him. This is how we do it.
What are you looking for when signing people to your label?
You must, first of all, you must listen. You can have the talent. It’s cool, everyone is talented, but it’s more than that to be a successful star. You got to be able to listen and take constructive criticism and stuff like that, you know what I mean? And you just have to be on time. I’m learning that too.
What can you tell us about the movie role you have to come?
Yes. I have a short film coming up. I want to take it out with the deluxe [album]. I’m playing. I wanted to give up on this movie, but I feel like it’s the perfect timing. I feel like it doesn’t go well when I wanted it to. Now it’s getting closer because I feel like the timing is brewing, that’s when it’s gonna be.
The movie is about the rise, the struggle, you know what I’m saying? How it is in Memphis. Memphghanistan, that’s the name of the movie. I want to have the luxury [album] as a soundtrack for that. It will be the soundtrack. We have songs that are on the deluxe version of the movie. And songs from the original, the first version, in the movie too.
I’m actually going to have this in the movie, like at the start of the movie when it opens. [As a kid], I remember my mom and my uncle and my aunt, they were all crowded around, they were in the kitchen at the table. I just walked in there and seen them, they just had the light beak in their hand like, all of them were just trying to put it together and stuff. And I broke.
I had a cry for it. I exclaim, “Dude, I’ll never be like you.” Like, I was a little bad. I was like, ‘Whatever. You all stumble. I will never be like all of you. I had whooping cough with a switch limb. But then it’s like, I always knew, man. I’ll be something. I never knew what it was. Just arrived.
It motivates you to work hard for yourself and your family. You have eight children, four boys and four girls. How to reconcile fatherhood and rapper?
It’s hard trying to do it, but I love my kids, and you know what you’re supposed to do. You know your responsibilities. So that’s the type of vibe [in] my home life. Even though I have to be in the studio and they’re there, that’s how we rock.
Do any of them have your musical talent? Do you see a future rapper in the making?
No, I don’t want them to do that.
I just want them to keep going, to stay focused. I’m doing this so they can do other stuff. Whatever it is, it is. If they grow up and get to this point, they themselves decide that they want to do it. I’ll just stay there.
Looking to the future, what do you hope to achieve next?
I just want everything to blossom. The merch line, the clothing line that I try to make. Like, I could get into some real big moves. I could have a big break, you know what I’m saying? I want to see something like that flourish and I want to see all of my artists direct everything. How Birdman and Lil Wayne did it. Master P and them, do you know what I mean?
Is longevity important to you?
I’m standing on it. This is if you want to be a real last name or a superstar. Some people just try to make that amount of money, go in and do that to get it. Some people really try to go for it, and some people really have a passion for it. And accept whatever goes with it.
Discover more XXLthe summer 2021 issue of, including our Freshman Class Cover interviews with 42 Dugg, Iann Dior, Coi Leray, Winnie the Pooh, Flo milli, Morray, Pink Ruby, Blxst, Toosii, Lakeyah and DDG, and more.