Of the artists who had big moments in 2020, perhaps none had as impressive a breakout as Alabama rapper Flo Milli. Her debut mixtape, Ho, Why Is You Here? made her an ostensible overnight success, trending on Twitter thanks to its bouncy beats and her flippant rhyme style. However, today she started trending for a different reason, as some fans on the app rediscovered her Beats By Dre television ad from 2020 thanks to a repost and shared their opinions on its muddled messaging.
While the commercial’s tagline of “Flex that clapback” is more of a marketing department failing over anything Flo Milli does, her participation has many befuddled. The ad follows the rapper as she exits an SUV in front of a Confederate statue, regards it for a moment, and dances in the street in front of it to her song “May I.” However, no one is really sure what message is being conveyed and it winds up feeling like the concept was based on exploiting the imagery of the summer uprisings of 2020 while leaving their purpose and demands unfulfilled.
Flo Milli saw the check and threw that ass like pic.twitter.com/PUfPbTtmu8
— Ahmed??/Official A&R for OVO Records (@big_business_) January 4, 2021
the "flex that clapback" Flo Milli commercial driving me crazy cause i know that slogan only won out after "the clapbacks are on fleek" or "its the clapbacks for me" were vetoed
— . (@HaroldBingo) January 4, 2021
I am not holdin flo milli accountable for that mess!! As far as I’m concerned she had no parts pic.twitter.com/vSynkzWt8K
— purrrr (@YannaTheGoddess) January 4, 2021
They really made Flo Milli do this in front of a confederate statue pic.twitter.com/cTeM59FueK
— Aza Chobe, Boatercycle Enthusiast (@EatASpiritBomb) January 4, 2021
The commercial has already been compared to the 2017 Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner which was accused of trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement. That commercial was pulled after being criticized, while the Beats By Dre ad has been out for two months and is part of a series that also featured rapper Cordae and tennis star Naomi Osaka, which might have helped it fly under the radar for a while. Ironically, it was likely pulling the ad from YouTube that brought it renewed attention on Twitter, where it’s had an ignominious encore.
Listen I love Flo Milli, but they set her up with this one. Why tf would she randomly break out dancing in front of a confederate statue and what does “flex that clap back” mean? ? https://t.co/PLyXZ16lfj
— F. (@SolanasChanel) January 4, 2021
i’m glad miss flo milli got her check, but apart from making zero sense, this is another example of corporations monetizing black pain to promote their products that hold no value to helping black people. this is almost as embarrassing as the pepsi ad. https://t.co/7wP9BEN1Gl
— ? Bree ? • she/her (@Breen4na) January 4, 2021
Flo Milli responding to y'all about the commercial pic.twitter.com/wMwrm4dqMj
— ???'? ?ℍ? ℚ???ℕ ????ℤ?? (@TheQueenSIeeze) January 4, 2021
Whoever wrote “flex that clapback” in the meetings for this commercial should be arrested. Flo Milli, I’m so sorry https://t.co/kUM0BVk9tI
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 4, 2021
It's my personal mission to find and obliterate whoever set Flo Milli up for failure like this https://t.co/Mhojc1qiKs
— Q. Anthony (ɔpɛ asem) (@andraydomise) January 4, 2021
"and we'll get Flo Milli to dance in front of a confederate statue"
"we're gonna look so good for this" pic.twitter.com/dovhCGwd5D
— slothbrainz (BLM forever, stay strong) (@slothbrainz) January 4, 2021
Unfortunately for Virtue Worldwide, the agency behind the “Flex That” campaign, once it’s on the internet, it’s fair game for roasts and legitimate criticisms alike. Check out some of those above.