Flint, MI—”I’m dope and I’m only 10.”
Milan Reaves, also known as Tha Beast Lani, raps that line in her favorite song she’s written so far, “Now watch me do it.”
Lani said she loves that song because “it’s just a vibe.”
So is she.
At just 10 years old, Lani is writing and rapping her own songs, recording in the studio, and starring in music videos that take place throughout Flint.
She’s a Leo, hence the name “Beast,” and the fierce and fiery attitude that can be seen in her trademark facial expressions she makes while rapping and dancing.
Lani started writing songs and rapping last year after listening to her Uncle Ramone, also known as Elite, who raps.
“I started listening to his music and then I tried it out and I was like, I wanna do that,” Lani said.
Inspired her uncle, and Nicki Minaj, Lani decided to write a couple songs and show her family.
When Raquel Reaves, Lani’s mom and manager, heard her rap for the first time, she decided she would do whatever she could do to support her daughter.
“When she came with ‘Big Bands,’ and ‘Good Grades,’ she had those songs written, and I was blown,” Reaves said. “I was like, you wrote these? And she was like, yeah. So, I said, well OK, this is what we doin’.”
Reaves brought it up with Lani’s father, a music producer who goes by the name Do Good. He’s helped produce Lani’s songs, including “Good Grades,” which she wrote this year about getting A’s in school.
“She’s making more noise than I thought she would this early in doing this,” Reaves said. “I’m so proud of her.”
Lani’s Instagram page, Thabeastlani_, has almost 2,000 followers and her music videos get hundreds of views on YouTube.
Reaves said kids from all over the country leave her comments and ask when Lani will be putting out new music. When she shows Lani’s videos to her adult friends, they usually say, “it’s the energy, for me.”
Lani shows off the dance moves she’s been working on for five years in her videos. She’s captain of the Glamorous Dancing Divas, a dance team that is directed by her mom and styled by her grandma.
Lani said she hopes to one day be a professional dancer and artist. She wants to be famous, and in her family, she already is.
Lani is the second oldest of six kids on her mom’s side of the family. Reaves said her younger siblings call Lani by her rapper name.
“My 1-year-old will stop and drop what she’s doing to tune in when Lani’s on TV,” Reaves said, referring to Lani’s Youtube videos. “It’s so cute. And my 4-year-old son, he can repeat her whole rap.”
If her siblings like the songs they’re working on, Reaves said they know it’s a hit. Lani even did a collaborative song, Nachos, with her brother whose rapper name is Svpreme.
“Am I wrong for wanting a Jackson 5 situation?” Reaves said. “Because I will buy instruments and do all of that just to see if we got something here.”
Reaves said she encourages Lani to write songs and spend time in the studio, which Lani loves doing. But she, of course, is still a kid.
When she isn’t in school or recording in the studio, she loves dancing, watching YouTube videos, and making TikToks with her two best friends. Together they’re The Beast Squad.
She loves in-person school but not online school. She’s into fashion, but for her that means jeans, a T-Shirt, and Jordans—not dresses.
When the videos of her dance team play on TV, she shields her face, and when her mom brags about her, she gives her the “stop talking!” eyes.
When people leave mean comments on her videos, which her mother only sometimes lets her see, it can hurt.
“I’m only a kid and I already have haters,” Lani said. “Yesterday, I got a call, and it was like, your music trashy, so stop.”
But Reaves said Lani is learning to let her haters be motivators.
“The way that I am, and the way that I teach them to be, it’s gonna be kind of hard to break her down,” Reaves said. “Because I do so much uplifting.”
It shows. Lani said she sometimes gets nervous before a dance performance or before a recording session, but you wouldn’t know it watching her once she starts performing.
“I just gotta stay confident,” Lani said. “I just think about my other songs, and just go for it.”
Lani will be doing her first live performance as a rapper at a Winter Wonderland Pop Up on Jan. 16, at 5226 N. Saginaw St. from 3-7 p.m.
She dropped her latest song called A Christmas Banger on Dec. 24.