Latto Is Already Thinking About Her Hip-Hop Legacy
My dad is a hip-hop head. He loved N.W.A. He loved Tupac. He even listened to female rappers back in the day, like Left Eye, Trina, and Lil’ Kim. He loved Eve because he loved DMX, her Ruff Ryders labelmate. My dad was into cars heavy, so he had old-school cars with candy paint and big rims that he would rent out for music-video shoots. I was on set for the filming of Ciara’s “Goodies.” I was on some Jagged Edge video shoots and sets for B5, this group Diddy had. I remember my parents arguing about my dad having me on set until 2:00 a.m. on a school night. That’s definitely what made me want to do music: growing up around that scene.
My mom and dad didn’t go to college. I watched them work their asses off to provide a certain lifestyle for me and my little sister, Brooklyn. I sold candy in elementary school, and I was balling, making $50 a day. And in high school, I threw parties on the Southside in Clayton County, Georgia, where I grew up. I was probably making $10,000 a night doing those. I’ve always been frugal, so I just stacked up my money. That’s the Capricorn in me.
In our household, when you do something, you do it full-fledged; it’s not a hobby. So after I told my dad when I was eight that I wanted to rap, I would get picked up from school, do my homework in the lobby of a music studio, and then go record.
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I always loved language arts. In third, fourth, and fifth grades, I won writing competitions against high schoolers. I did talent shows and open mics anywhere in Atlanta that I could. We were burning CDs, passing them out at festivals and events, painting the city with my posters, just going really hard. I ended up building a social-media presence, and that caught the attention of [the producers of] The Rap Game, a rap competition TV series. I was 16 when we began filming, and I ended up winning the show. That was crazy.
I love what the new generation of women is doing. … We’re doing things in our own way and bigger than it’s ever been done before.
After The Rap Game, I was working independently and putting out music until one of my tracks finally caught, which was “B*tch From Da Souf.” It got all the labels calling me. From there, I dropped my debut album, Queen of Da Souf, in 2020. That project solidified my spot as a new female rapper on the mainstream scene.
That same year, my manager at the time got an email asking me to be in Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s music video for “WAP.” I was like, you better make sure that’s not no prank call! Everything was super secretive. On set, we didn’t even hear the actual song; we were just dancing to the instrumentals. Cardi was so humble. She was super adamant about cheering us on and making us feel comfortable. To be recognized by someone of that caliber was all the motivation I needed.
With my next album, 777, there was a lot of pressure—I’m not going to lie. I had this song “Big Energy” that was going crazy, and when I got word that Mariah Carey was going to do the remix, it felt like more pressure. My mom had me when she was 15, and I remember her and my aunt having posters and T-shirts of Mariah when they were teenagers raising me. I feel like I don’t have to do anything else in life: I have a Mariah Carey feature!
When I was promoting that album, I did an interview with Nadeska Alexis from Apple Music, and I guess they just loved my personality and my energy because they gave me my own radio show, which I named 777. The show is all about lifting up other women artists in the industry, like Chlöe Bailey and Lola Brooke. I’m a fan of these girls in real life, so I want them there with me as guests on the show. At the end of the day, we face so many challenges and hiccups that nobody else can relate to.
Earlier this year, I got to tour with Lizzo for the second time. She is the most genuine soul. If you beefing with Lizzo, I’m going to assume it’s you. Last October, I brought out Stacey Abrams when we were in Atlanta during my song “Pussy.” When I perform it, I speak out about my body, my choice. That was a super-huge moment. Then in April, I got to play Coachella. I was like, I’ve waited my whole career for this moment. That was my first performance with Teyana Taylor as my creative director, so I put in hella work. I wanted to preview new music, so we rushed the rollout for “Put It On Da Floor.” I don’t have a date or anything right now, but I’m loading up for an album this year for sure.
Hip-hop might be 50 years in, but it’s really just getting started.
I feel a lot of pressure when it comes to carrying on hip-hop’s legacy. When I think of the women who came before me, I think of Princess and Diamond, Trina, and Gangsta Boo. But I love what the new generation of women is doing. We’re being ourselves and representing so many different regions that come with their own stylings. The representation across female rappers is the most versatile it’s ever been. We’re filling the shoes, and we’re doing things in our own way and bigger than it’s ever been done before.
Atlanta has been at the forefront of hip-hop for years now, but it’s because of the males. I feel like I can be the first female from Atlanta to take things to new levels. No other female rapper from Atlanta has a song with Mariah Carey. I’m the first female rapper from Atlanta to go platinum. There are just going to be more and more accolades, but I want to be the face of the city.
I hate when people say hip-hop is dead. So many subgenres of hip-hop have been made over the last 50 years. The versatility is there, the trendsetting is there, and hip-hop really is the blueprint for every other genre—including pop, country, and R&B—to the point where they want us on their songs. Hip-hop might be 50 years in, but it’s really just getting started.