Photo: Courtesy of Apple Music

Muni Long joins Ebro Darden on the latest episode of R&B Now Radio on Apple Music 1 to discuss her upcoming project and breakout single ‘Hrs and Hrs’, how her career has taken off, Drake reaching out to her, balancing being an artist and songwriter, why giving ‘Hrs and Hrs’ to someone else wouldn’t have worked, possible collaborators on her upcoming project, and more.

Muni Long tells Apple Music how her career took off and about Drake reaching out to her

I started writing my own stuff, taught myself how to play using the internet. There was a couple websites that I would go to, to learn. And I started writing and posting my own songs. And that’s when I really started becoming viral. My first song that I wrote on the guitar was just plucking the top string because I didn’t know how to play yet. That video got me a million hits. And then, the next one I did singing dictionary. Like, I sang the first five pages of dictionary over the ‘Glamorous’ beat. Fergie, ‘Glamorous’. That got a million hits. And then, I recorded a cover of Best I Ever Had where I like played it on guitar, sang it instead of rapped it. That went viral so much. So, that Drake reached out to me. And he was like, “Yo, I love what you did with the song.” He gave me his number, we’re talking. Mind you now, I’m just out of high school. You know? And I was watching him on Degrassi when I was in middle school and high school. So, I’m like, “Oh my God, this is Aubrey Graham. This is amazing! Wheelchair Jimmy.” And so, I remember talking to him back then. And he’s like, “Yeah, I’m an actor. I’m trying to get into music. I did this mixtape for Valentine’s Day. Didn’t really take it serious. People love it. I’m singing. Lil Wayne wants to sign me.” So, I mean, and not just him. Fantasia, Pharrell… So many people because my videos were spreading all over the internet. And from there, I fast forward a couple years, I got signed to Capitol Records [at] about eighteen-years-old.

Muni Long tells Apple Music why it’s important for her to be an artist and a songwriter

At a certain point, there were things that I just wanted to say, and I wanted to express. When you are providing a service for somebody else, it’s like… Imagine if you went to McDonald’s right, and you said you wanted a Quarter Pounder with cheese. And they were like, “Nah, I think you should get the nuggets.” Throw some lettuce and some tomato in there with the nuggets, get you some onion rings.” Like, “But I want fries.” You know? So, you would be very frustrated. Right? So, that’s what it’s like when you’re a songwriter. They want to Quarter Pounder with cheese, do your best to give them a Quarter Pounder with cheese. Don’t remix the recipé. Don’t throw some extra seasoning in there that you feel like… It’s not about you. It’s about them. If I would’ve written ‘Hrs and Hrs’ and [inaudible], nobody would have cut that song. Or they would ask me to change the lyrics.

Muni Long tells Apple Music why writing ‘Hrs and Hrs’ for someone else wouldn’t have worked

So, let’s just think about the landscape of the business right now. The R&B girls: SZA, Jhené Aiko, Kehlani, Summer Walker, they all write their own stuff. And Beyoncé. Those are the ones who probably were worthy of a record like this. I understand the value of the songs that I write, and that they write. They really can change someone’s life. Like, what it has done for me. You know? So, you can’t just go giving it away to everybody. Especially since people don’t want to pay. So, now I’m going to have to go out here and pitch, and pitch, and pitch, and pitch. And you end up becoming frustrated and angsty. Like, “I know this is an incredible record. Why is nobody taking a bait?” Even Jazmine, she writes her own stuff. So, who? Who Would I have given it to? And then, I would’ve had to go over to the Pop side, and maybe try to give it to an Ariana Grande. Somebody who can actually really sing it, you know? And then, there’s that cultural conflict, right? Where I’m like, “Why can’t my brown and black musicians have a crossover hit? Why does it always have to feel like, in order for this R&B sounding thing to be Pop, it has to be sang by somebody who’s light or white? Why?”

Muni Long tells Apple Music how she approaching releasing music

I think I mean, I’m playing both sides of the fence here. I’m the artist and the creative, but I’m also paying for it. I have to think about [the] cost of the whole thing. And I think this is actually the third EP that I put out on Supergiant. The first one is called, ‘Black Like This’. The second one is called, ‘Nobody Knows’. Then, this one is called ‘Public Display of Affection’. Put them all out in the space of a year. Those were like the warmups. It was getting people used to my aesthetic. Getting people used to the sound that I was bringing. Slowly introducing… Because one thing that I did understand is that I couldn’t come out the gate being too good, too fast. Because there’s something called the uncanny valley. Right? Let’s let them ingest it. Let’s let them feel like they was with me shooting in the gym. You’ll see people saying, “I’m responsible for at least a million of those streams”, you know?

Muni Long tells Apple Music about possible collaborations on her upcoming project

So I want to take my time on the album. I want it to be really good. What I hoped, is that I would attract enough attention, and the right kind of attention, they would see an artist and not a songwriter and want to work with Muni Long. On Muni Long stuff. Not—Don’t come over and be like, “Oh yeah, I want to work with you on your album.” And then next thing, I’m getting a call saying, “Oh, Rihanna wants to cut it.” You know? So I’ve been asking. There’s a lot of people, who I’m like, “Hey, I’m doing something, I would love for you to come through.” No response, putting me off. “Okay, cool.” A lot of them have come back since—Like, “Yo, oh my God! We got to get in!” And I’m just like, “I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel about that.” Because everything I’m doing is it’s all about the intent. It’s all about the intent. It’s the reason why I’m talking to you. Is because when I hit you up, you answer. And it has nothing to do about what it looks like on the outside. But yeah, I would love to work with like, Doja, The Weekend, Drake, Beyoncé, Pharrell, Quincy Jones, that would be incredible! There’s just so many, there’s literally so many. And I do have a couple that I’m working on right now. But just in case nothing comes of it, I wouldn’t want to put pressure on those people by saying anything about who they are. But there’s a lot of genuine interest. Which, after sort some of the tidal wave sort of dies down from this song, I’ll be able to take my time and get back in the studio and be creative. But it doesn’t take me a long time. I mean, you saw how fast I could write.