Smack dab in the middle of the large Venn diagram of the lo-fi terror pioneered by Three 6 Mafia, the infectious bounce of Miami and New Orleans clubs, and the luxury of Lil’ Kim is Florida’s Big Momma. The 29-year-old Southern native, born Maurice Montgomery, has a penchant for the morbid and theatrical, creating a twist on horrorcore that is sexier, gayer, and more relatable than the work of his predecessors such as Gravediggaz and Geto Boys.
For nearly a decade, the one-time graphic designer quietly released songs to the internet at the behest of his peers. Then, in 2013, music finally became a viable career option for Big Momma, when the rapper released his album, Mommie Dearest, featuring production by Mike WiLL and Skywlkr.
MILF, Big Momma’s newly-unleashed debut, arrives five years after the release of his 2014 breakthrough horror mixtape, The Plague, which featured lo-fi DJ Paul-esque beats riding tensely under Momma’s powerful spitfire raps. On the tape, you could almost hear each syllable rise out of his throat and against his teeth.
In contrast, MILF feels like a rich, sensual woman, descending from a marble staircase with a single tear streaming down her face as the coroners remove her deceased husband’s corpse. Effortlessly blending bright femininity and unabashed queerness with classic horror aesthetics, Big Momma’s debut is a love letter to his true self.
“I took this time to find myself and to meet new people,” Big Momma admits, reflecting on the five-year process of making MILF.
Even the artwork for MILF, which features a glammed-up Big Momma with a stiletto manicure clutching an apple, is a significant change of pace from the grainy, black and white imagery found on past mixtapes.
“I wanted to be pretty. I wanted to exude sex and fierceness,” he says in his distinct Floridian twang over the phone.
While horror-influenced production put Big Momma on the map, MILF marks a departure of form into more experimental territories—and he’s well aware of the risks involved.
“I wanted to stay away from the horror theme, [but] I will always be true to myself,” Big Momma says. “Everyone fell in love with me by being this dark and mysterious person. That’s never going to go anywhere.”
We hope not.
My full conversation with Big Momma, lightly edited for content and clarity, follows below.
DJBooth: So tell me about the writing process for MILF.
Big Momma: I’m in this shitty-ass situationship, and I’ve caught feelings, so that’s what this album is about. I’m trying to find myself; I’m trying to find my work. I’m dabbling in the sex apps like Grindr, and Jack’d, things like that. I talk about my personal life and the reason that I haven’t been in the rap game. It’s like me catching you up since the last time I released The Plague, and now we’re here.
It’s been five years since The Plague. How did you use your time away from music to your advantage in creating MILF? How much is new, how much did you write following The Plague?
I was dipping and dabbing between my sound[s]. I was trying to find different types of producers, because my original producer, Michaelangelo, had other ideas, and he didn't want to be a producer most of the time. Me and him kind of fell off. I had these old beats, and then I met new producers. I gave them a gist of the sound that I wanted to bring. We would go back and forth. They’ll create a beat, they’ll send it to me, I’ll put something on it, they’ll send it back, and we’ll go from there.
I took this time to find myself and meet new people. I was doing all of this by myself, and I needed someone to assist me, so I come across someone that became my manager. They introduced me to a whole different ball game in the music industry, so I’m excited. I’m just happy I now have a support system. Again, I did everything independently. I furnished everything with my own money out of pocket. It was hard.
You took five years off from releasing a new body of work. Did you feel any pressure to release music in between that time?
I wanted to come back polished. When I dropped The Plague, I just sat back and listened, and I’m listening to things I could have done better. I could’ve dished my flow better, or I could have had a more significant delivery. I didn’t want to drop a mixtape. What I did want to do was come back with the album. I wanted to come back with a fresh sound for my fans to see the growth.
How did you approach the sound structure for this album?
I wanted to stay away from the horror theme, although I will always be true to myself. Everyone fell in love with me by being this dark and mysterious person. That’s never going to go anywhere. This sound is me becoming comfortable with myself and becoming comfortable with my sexuality. It’s hard being this overweight. Being overweight and gay is bad. Sometimes it’s hard, and I wanted to be a voice for the people who experience the same type of thoughts that I sometimes have. I tried to sex it up and bring a whole different kind of vibe!
At the intersection of your identity, there’s a lot of debate over labeling, such as “gay rapper.” How important are these identities to you and your music?
First of all, as far as the whole being called a “gay rapper,” it is what it is. As long as I remain true to myself, my talent is going to speak for itself. I haven’t dropped an album in five years, and I still have a strong following. I rap. I’m a rapper. Most people have issues with that, but as long as I’m respected, I’m coming for blood. My mission is to murder any beat that I get on. I’m going to make it my beat, that’s my thing!
There’s so much intimacy in your music. With MILF, how did you cater to both first-time listeners who aren’t familiar with your backstory and longtime fans who’ve already fallen in love with your music and story?
Beginning with the first track, “Children of the Scorn,” I explain my disappearance and what happened and what I come back to do. The intimacy is there, all the way into the last song. I’m talking about everything that has happened in the previous five years into now. For my new listeners, they are going to experience this polished sound. I’ve never been so excited for a body of work. I’m excited I can come back.
Five years ago, you were taking pictures in your bathroom wearing a shower curtain. Now, your beautiful and elegant on MILF.
I recorded The Plague in my bedroom on a 15 dollar microphone with a Nike shoebox and some stockings. That’s what I want people to know who look at me like some maven. You can do this! I’ve been staying true to my talent since 2006, and it brought me here. I want people to know that whatever it is you want to do, stay true to yourself, and I promise that it will turn into something.