DJs were the original tastemakers in hip hop discovering new artists, and DJ Miss Milan still embodies that ethos. Before Top Dawg Entertainment and the national acclaim, she knew Doechii was going to be a superstar and helped make it happen.
“People still hit me in my DMs asking, ‘When are you guys going back on tour? My first time seeing you guys was with SZA,’” Miss Milan reveals to REVOLT. “That’s how I knew the fans there to see SZA ended up being SZA and Doechii fans.”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Miss Milan explains how her DJ gig with Doechii was “manifested” by the TDE artist, the experience of being on the road with SZA, and how she started the Club Renaissance wave with Beyoncé’s company Parkwood Entertainment. Read our exclusive chat below.
You’ve been deejaying for Doechii since the 2021 Move Forward Music event in Queens. How did you two connect?
Doechii was one of those artists I can honestly say I discovered after hearing her on a homeboy’s song [in late 2020]. I told him, “No offense, but who’s the girl on the song? She’s freaking smoking this.” After he told me, I looked at her page and followed her instantly. Honestly, this was before TDE was in the picture. I ended up listening to her music and watching her videos. I remember putting her on my GIRLGVNG RAP playlist, a playlist dedicated to all of the upcoming and mainstream women in rap. Afterward, she hit me up on Instagram, sent a voice note, and told me that her management team at that time noticed that she was getting a lot of streams from my playlist. I reached out, and I shot my shot.
I was already deejaying for Saweetie at the time, and my loyalty runs very deep. But, I trusted God because that’s who I consult with [for] all my decisions. And I went forward with it. I [told] her if she ever needed a DJ for anything, please don’t be afraid to hit me up [and that] I’d love to work with her. I saw the potential for her to be a superstar. She hit me back and said, verbatim, that she manifested working with me already because she’d seen the work I’d done with Saweetie and how amazing of a DJ I was. She said she had never worked with a DJ before, so this would be her first time. Months later, she told me she was in the works of being signed to TDE. Nothing was public yet.
How was that first show?
We had no rehearsals. I flew to New York from Atlanta and met with her that day. We went over the songs briefly, and then the day of the show, I did what I did: Be the Fairy Vibe Mother and provide those vibes. From then, we just locked in because she was impressed with what I did for the first show, and I was probably even more impressed with her because there was no rehearsal, so I didn’t see where she would have dancers or any of that. She proved to me right then and there that she is the superstar we are all witnessing today.
I’ve seen you mirror her dance moves from behind the DJ booth. How important is choreography in what you two do together onstage?
Honestly, it’s very random (laughs). She’s never requested me to get the moves that she’s doing. I’ve always been a performer at heart. I love to incorporate myself into the choreography. I’ll watch them during rehearsals or sound checks and see the moves they’re doing, and I’ll be like, “Hey, I could do this too.” I know people have seen it when they come to some of the shows with Saweetie. You can catch me hitting a two-step with the dancers and her at the same time, which amplifies it because nobody sees the DJ hitting those dance moves. I love Doechii’s uniqueness when it comes to the movement she has. We have standards — we look up to in Michael Jackson and Beyoncé, so we know those people have a standard for shows.
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What is Doechii’s personality like before shows?
When we’re getting ready, she has a playlist going, and we’re either taking a few shots or whatever, getting amped. But right now, we’re on this no drinking wave because we are so serious about our careers and the things we have coming up this year. We’re very militant and disciplined. She’s very, very big on positive energy. And I am also because nothing is worse than somebody having an attitude or feeling some way before hitting the stage. We are very faithful and spiritual people, so we’re always praying before we hit that stage, thanking God for the ability to be used and the positions that he’s blessed us with. Then, after each show, we’re all celebrating because we’re all proud of each other. We’re giving each other positive critiques, if there is any, but there honestly rarely is any because we’re really good at what we do.
What has Doechii done onstage that’s really impressed you?
I’ll give you two shows. The first one was her performance at Afropunk, one of the best shows we’ve ever done because she was so intentional about giving fans a performance they would feel in their spirits. We call it a spiritual performance. We had the sage. We were warding away the bad energy before we even touched the stage. We were intentional about that. She knew how she wanted her set design to look. We did the best we could to put it together to match what she envisioned. She did such an amazing show; it became emotionally overwhelming, and she poured out her emotions onstage.
The second one was her Jimmy Fallon performance. I was glad the world could see her superstar potential because Jimmy Fallon is a very big late night show. She gave her all. That also showed me — even more — how dedicated she is to the craft and how much she cares about how she presents herself as an artist and the artistry we’re a part of.
Her first big tour exposure was on SZA’s “Good Days Tour” in late 2021. What was their camaraderie like?
First of all, queen SZA is absolutely amazing. To see her in person and to be around her for that tour, and just see how humble and nice she is, and how much of a caring person she is was beautiful. We were opening up with unreleased music like “Crazy” and “Persuasive.” All of these songs we were performing weren’t even out. Both of them on tour are like Black magic gold. They’re like vibranium (laughs). We stayed to watch SZA’s performance every time we finished performing. Certain songs always hit us in our souls and made us cry seeing her perform. We would look at each other like, “She’s so amazing, bro.”
How did fans react to hearing unreleased songs from a new artist?
“Crazy” was one of the biggest songs because it was unreleased, and the energy behind it was just crazy. So, the fact that the crowd was doing a call and response was great. If I said, “Put your lights up. Light this whole arena up,” they were listening and putting up their camera phones, lighting the entire arena up. After the performance, so many fans were interested in taking pictures with her. They yelled, “Oh my God, this is the first performance I’ve seen of yours.” She took a picture with every last one of the fans that wanted to take pictures. She signed autographs. People still hit me in my DMs asking, “When are you guys going back on tour? My first time seeing you guys was with SZA.” That’s how I knew the fans there to see SZA ended up being SZA and Doechii fans.
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Even when you’re not deejaying for artists like Saweetie and Doechii, you’re putting on events like your Renaissance parties in Brooklyn. How did those come together?
Shout out to my partners, Move Forward Music. Before anyone was doing Club Renaissance parties, Parkwood and Pandora reached out to my team to do an official listening event called Club Renaissance in Times Square. After that, my partners at Move Forward Music said, “We need to have a Beyoncé party because this album is phenomenal.” So, we curated a space for people to feel safe enough to be themselves, express themselves, and of course, be a big fan of the Queen, Miss Beyoncé herself. The first one we did was magical, and we knew we had something going on with this Club Renaissance party, and we needed to continue to create this vibe. Then, people could be who they wanted to be, let loose and express themselves. We play other Beyoncé music, but we also have the actual Renaissance album playing from top to bottom, not skipping a beat when it comes to transitions, the same way you hear it on streaming services. I’m sure this is the reason why Beyoncé made Renaissance to begin with.
What do you have coming up in 2023?
I have Rolling Loud coming up with Saweetie and Coachella coming up with Doechii. But we’re calling it Doechella. Those are the two artists I’m loyal to the ground to. Also, the Miss Milan brand got some legendary work coming up. I have a big campaign dropping in February. I’ll also be doing my R&B showcase, The Interlude with Move Forward Music, which I started to promote more indie R&B acts. Also, I look forward to my GIRLGVNG Global brand. We’re creating the blog space for women and LGBTQ artists in music. I’m not a big talker; I’m a big shower. So, you all are going to see.