Rapper Monaleo On Her Social Anxiety: ‘When They Hand Me The Microphone, I Can Literally Feel My Hands Shaking’
Photo by Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

Rapper Monaleo solidified her position as a rising female artist with her back-to-back hits “Beating Down Yo Block” and “We Not Humpin” reaching viral status. With lyrics that cut through airwaves and a “baddie” attitude to match, many of her fans might be surprised to learn that behind her bold on-stage persona, Monaleo is an avid champion for mental health.

In a recent episode of TIDAL’s Rising documentary series, Monaleo spoke candidly about her struggles with social anxiety and her desire to be known as a human being who deals with “real things on an everyday basis.” 

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“When they hand me the microphone, I can literally feel my hands shaking,” Monaleo says. “I want to be candid and transparent about this, so people will be a little bit more — not sympathetic, but empathetic — so that they understand, sometimes I wake up and I don’t want to rap. I don’t feel like rapping. And that should be okay.”

Monaleo went on to share how her social anxiety made others perceive her as “selfish” and “stand-offish,” which caused her to feel “grossly misunderstood.”

“I let everybody put these labels on me that weren’t true about me,” she shares. “I was just dealing with things that no one knew about.” 

Being labeled with these negative characteristics motivated the 21-year-old artist to take control of her own narrative through authenticity and vulnerability.

“When I became an adult, I realized the importance of being able to tell my story because I want people to understand where I’m coming from,” she says. “That’s why I think it’s important to create and control your own narrative. If you leave it up to the people around you, they will kind of mishandle your legacy.”

Monaleo, who has navigated abuse and her own trauma in the past and been open about being a suicide survivor, went on the explain the importance of sharing the darkest parts of your story and how others can be supportive in creating a safe space for these conversations to occur. “Saying out loud, ‘you know what? That happened to you. I wasn’t there, I didn’t see it, but I believe you, and I’m sorry that it happened,'” she said.  “As opposed to saying that, they say, ‘ah, that sh-t didn’t happen.’ They just don’t create a safe space for people who are victims of abuse to even feel comfortable sharing that.”

While it’s been challenging for Monaleo to overcome the adversity she’s experienced on her personal journey, the rising rap star finds solace in loving every layer of who she is and who she’s destined to become.

“The lesson to be learned is to just — and I know it’s very cliché, but to love yourself, value yourself, point out the characteristics about yourself that you love, and capitalize on those characteristics so that they override any negative feelings you may ever feel about yourself.”