Monaleo is a musical sensation. On her debut album Where the Flowers Don’t Die, she was whimsical, heartfelt, empowered, and vulnerable. It was a fun exploration of mental wellness as she was on the verge of young motherhood. When it debuted, she boasted about having two babies, since she also had her first child last week. However, the biggest lesson we gleaned from the project is the beauty in taking your time.
Monaleo seemingly addresses this on the opening track, “Sober Mind.” A slower song that veers away from her traditional sound, it sets up the project for Monaleo’s journey into a sober mind. She raps, “Slow boogie better than no boogie. Believe that.” As she asserts this, she transitions into her viral hit that is responsible for her success, “Beating down yo block.”
In this fast-paced anti-patriarchy bop, the Houston rapper emerges as a confident and empowered young woman asserting dominance in an industry that would rather dominate her. She gives caption-worthy material every other verse when says things like, “If you think i’ma sweat you, you out yo motherf***ing mind” and “Don’t ask me about my ex. Let’s just pretend that n***a died!”
Through humor and relatability, Monaleo positioned herself as the next hottest thing out of Houston. Yet, in the two years since the viral hit, she maintained her momentum. Really, Monaleo has mastered virality. This was evident in her third track, “A** Kickin.”
The song starts out bluntly with Monaleo rapping “b****” on beat, which she follows with “yeah, hoe” at the same pace. While listening to it, I imagined TikTok transitions to the opening lines. Then, when she began rapping, she drew on the momentum of “Beating Down Yo Block.” She paired the fun track with an equally fun music video.
Yet, rapping is just one of Monaleo’s talents. On this project, she explored an R&B and pop fusion. After foretelling her future on Return of the P, Monaleo taps into whimsicality on “Goddess” with her friend and collaborator Flo Milli. This pop sound is a deviation from Monaleo’s roots, and it foreshadows the rest of the project.
Other whimsical tracks include Sauvage (interlude) and Cologne Song, a suite about puppy love and trying to figure out what cologne your partner is wearing. Monaleo balances this whimsicality with more serious songs like Ridgemont Baby and Miss Understood, both of which reveal Monaleo’s vulnerability for the first time. In “Ridgemont Baby,” she tells listeners, “No cable so I had plenty of time to work on my craft.”
This assertion is supported by the project; the time she spent homing her craft resulted in a well-crafted album. Before letting us go, Monaleo surprises listeners with a powerful love ballad, “Cosmic Love.” This R&B track wraps up the album well, symbolizing how far she’s come on her journey into mental wellness.
Although it came 2 years after Monaleo’s debut, Where The Flowers Don’t Die teaches listeners that there is beauty in taking your time.