/  02.03.2022

Muni Long is TikTok’s latest viral sensation thanks to her infectious R&B ballad, “Hrs and Hrs” — but, this isn’t her first rodeo.

Formerly known as Priscilla Renea, she’s the go-to hitmaker for the likes of Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande, Rihanna and more. However, the star felt pigeonholed and knew she had to distance herself from ‘Priscilla’ if she wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. This is where Muni Long enters the chat.

“There was no representation for the Black female: the brown-skinned, dark-skinned, Black female. The outspoken, maybe a little bit street, Black woman, you know?” Muni told REVOLT about the critical reception of “Hrs and Hrs.”

After gaining popularity on YouTube, Muni released her debut album, Jukebox, under Capitol Records in 2009. “I’ve always wanted to be an artist,” she said. “I just took a detour so I could eat.”

After a studio session with Grande in 2019, the 33-year-old decided she was going to bet on herself. Fast-forward to today, Muni has one of the top R&B songs in the country. She cracked the Billboard Hot 100 chart, topped Billboard’s Emerging Artist chart and dropped her EP, Public Displays of Affection, under her very own independent record label, Supergiant Records.

REVOLT caught up with the singer-songwriter to discuss her evolution from Priscilla Renea to Muni Long, the making of her EP, and more. Check out the chat below.

Congratulations on your success as a solo artist. Can you describe the exact moment you decided you were going to bet on yourself?

It was August 2019 when I was like, ‘I’m not doing this no more.’ I think the last session that I did was Ariana Grande, which those two songs — or two of the songs that we worked on — ended up being on [her album] Positions. After that I was like, ‘Nope, I’m good.’ I focused on me for a while. You know, I did that for 10 years and I think I wanna take some time for myself.

Every time you take a chance on yourself, you always see the benefits and you never regret it in the end. I’m sure that’s what you’re feeling right now.

I mean, there were definitely some points where I would look at my husband and be like, ‘Did we make the right choice? What’s going on? What is happening?’ But now, in hindsight, it’s amazing. It’s kind of like, ‘Wow! We did it.’ It’s a journey, it’s a slow climb. But, when you finally have something that [gets the attention of more seasoned creatives], who can help you grow, the process becomes less of a hassle. People want to collab with you. That’s always great ’cause the amount of opportunities that are coming in now because of the song, it’s just overwhelming. It’s like, okay, alright… now we’re getting somewhere.

How long did it take you to create the entire Public Displays of Affection EP?

I write so quickly. The quality of the work is so high that I can go into a studio and in a week come out with like 50, 60 songs. So, yeah, when I get on a roll, it’s kind of like, ‘Okay, cool, pull the next beat up. I hear something.’ If I hear something, I’m like ‘Alright, cut me on. Let’s go.’ I’ll go until it starts feeling like work… feeling like I’m trying to rhyme too hard or it’s not coming quickly. I just move on. I just keep doing that and I might come back to the [track] a year later and finish it. But, most of the time when it’s the right beat or the right chord progression or the right instrument playing the right chord progression, it just comes out quickly.

What’s your favorite track?

So when I was doing the track listening, I would definitely have to play “Hrs and Hrs” a few times before I skipped to the next one. My second favorite is “Time Machine.”

The project only features one artist, Ann Marie. How’d you two meet?

So Ann Marie and I have some team members in common. Her tour manager is a dear friend. He actually used to [manage my tours] as well and he invited me to the studio, like, ‘Ann is working. I want you to come write some stuff for her.’ I was like, ‘You know I’m not doing that, but for you, you said you really needed me so alright, cool.’ I show up and we ended up writing a song that went on her album. After that when I was finishing up the project the team was like ‘We should get at least one feature. If you could have a feature on any track, which would it be?’ I said ‘No R&B.’

Your live performance of “Just Beginning” was praised by Rihanna and Monica, who you’ve worked with in the past. Can you describe what that moment was like?

So I worked with Frank on creating that piece. He has that eye for timeless imagery. He definitely prepared me well for that shoot and just making sure I knew how to find the camera and other little things. We knew it was a beautiful piece after we finished it.

Around my birthday I decided I’m gonna post a 15-second or 30-second clip, and I found the right piece. But the thing is with TikTok, it has to be a vertical video and when I made the video vertical, it was cutting off portions. You know — the head turns and all the dramatic parts. So I decided to put a message on there that says, ‘Turn your phone.’ They don’t do that on TikTok. Even my marketing team and my digital team were like, ‘Why’d you post it that way?’ I’m like, ‘I feel like that’s gonna be the thing that makes people look at it because I’m giving them a call-to-action: Turn your phone’ — and it worked.

Then, we took it over to Instagram and it quickly started to pick up traction. Then an influencer friend of mine posted it on his page. That’s where the Rihanna response came from because she saw it, or he might have sent it to her or something like that.

Did you have a conversation with Rihanna or Monica about a possible collaboration?

So Monica posted the song “Just Beginning” on her stories. Then when I put out “No R&B” she actually reached out like, ‘Yo, I love your stuff. I would love to work.’ The funny part is I think a lot of people — with the success of “Hrs and Hrs,” and it hitting number one on the iTunes R&B chart and it hitting the Billboard chart — literally, I think people are just now finding out that Muni Long is Priscilla. When I was in Atlanta with Monica, she literally didn’t know until I said, ‘Yeah, I’m Priscilla.’ She was shocked ’cause I haven’t seen her in years.

Can fans expect an “Hrs and Hrs” remix with a major feature?

I don’t know. I mean, the song is a copyright. It’s gonna be around for a long time. It’s one of those ones where everybody’s saying, ‘It’s gonna be my wedding song’ you know? I laughed at the meme with Nene [Leakes] covering her ears preparing for it to be the official Valentine’s Day song. I was on the floor laughing ’cause I’m just like, we ain’t even did nothing yet.

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