By Julyssa Lopez
The then-20-year-old had only a few songs and covers to her name at that point. After dropping out of Manhattan’s Edward A. Reynolds West Side High School in 2015 (the same school that hip-hop artist A$AP Rocky once attended), Melii had been working with local managers and releasing her DIY efforts directly to the Internet. Her first real break came in 2017, when she unleashed a remix of Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” that went viral, racking up more than 2 million views. A stack of original tracks followed, including “Icey,” “Como Si Na,” and “Shit Talk”—all songs that showed off her raspy voice, brisk flows in English and Spanish, and talent for writing stinging bars and catchy hooks with ease. The early material positioned Melii as the spunky-kid-sister type, someone who punched back at haters and always fought to keep her career throttling forward, despite the challenges of being an emerging female artist in rap.