Experience this story and others in HIGHStyle, a print magazine by Highsnobiety, available from retailers around the world and our online store
“It was inevitable that I became a rapper,” Latto reflects. And judging by her hit singles, gold records, and die-hard fan base, it seems that the Atlanta based rapper is right – she was born to rap. Her music is able to be honest and self aware, all while paying homage to her Southern roots. Following her signing with RCA records in March of last year, she released her debut studio album “Queen of Da Souf,” in August, which was the first solo album by a female rap artist to go both gold and platinum, solidifying her game changing status.
Latto first entered the public sphere by winning the first season of the reality show The Rap Game in 2016. She followed that up with the 2019 single “Bitch From Da Souf,” and 2020’s “Muwop,” featuring Gucci Mane – an honor for any rapper coming from the South. “Gucci has always been my favorite rapper, Gucci Mane. Being from the South, I just love his aura, his Southern swag, his flow, everything about it is so Southern,” as she puts it says.
But even beyond rap and Gucci Mane, the artist’s sense of identity is firmly rooted in her heritage. “It’s the accent, the way you maneuver, your aura, how you rap, how you talk.” Though the Southern flavor is an international export at this point, Latto adds her own idiosyncrasy to the familiar, laidback style, preserving the cultural flavor while adding an aura of authenticity. In both “Bitch from Da Souf” and “Queen of Da Souf”, Latto makes it clear that she is not only embracing, but also representing her Southern roots: “Everything about me is credited to my city.”
Music and wordplay have always been a passion, as she began performing as a precocious 8-year-old. “I loved school growing up and language arts was my favourite subject. Anything that had to do with writing; poetry, metaphors, similes––any word play.” Her father played a key role in furthering her passion. As she says, “Growing up, my dad was the street dude who had a lot of rapper friends. I was a daddy's girl and was always outside with my daddy. Seeing that fast lifestyle and being around rappers in combination with my personal interests had an impact. Those worlds just clashed.”
Though her father had an indelible influence on her, Latto is a champion of female empowerment. It’s a sentiment that has been furthered by her success as a beacon of the female rap genre, and the responsibility that comes with that. But the job is far from done in terms of recognition. “All of these artists are blowing up in Atlanta, but there still isn’t a female to take it mainstream,” she says. Nicki Minaj and the influence she had on Latto, made her all the more determined to re-introduce the figure of the Southern female rapper to today’s younger generation. “Then when I was around 10 years old, Nicki came out and I fell in love with her. To this day, I love Nicki. She’s a heavy influence.”
For the 22-year old, dealing with success at such a young age has come with its own difficulties, though Latto handles herself with prodigal maturity and self-awareness. “I’ve been doing it for so long. I've been rapping since I was eight years old. So I've had a lot of challenging moments.” She continues, “I feel like the most challenging thing to me was just finding myself. At the same time as I'm growing as an artist, I'm literally growing up as a human being. There was a point where I had to find myself and not get lost in my career, growing up in the spotlight.”
When it comes to the next chapter of her career, Latto offers a single word: elevation, elevation, elevation. She’s gearing up for the release of a new album, heralded by the release of “The Biggest,” a track which addresses the controversy surrounding her recent name-change. It somehow manages to be both genuine, and a shameless flex; a kiss-off to the haters via honest self-reflection. She knew it was going to be a hit, “I was ready for it, I’m not going to lie.”
Latto’s confidence and honesty is reflected in the track. “‘The Biggest’ came from a humble, and apologetic head space to where it's like, okay, I finally matured enough to where I was able to listen to what everybody was saying about the name,” she elaborates. A sign of growth and serious intent, her rebranding sets the stage for what’s to come. “I feel a positive name, a more positive name, could bring positive energy.” It’s a positivity we’ll see in her new album, which we expect will put Latto at once in her wheelhouse, and outside her comfort zone. “[It] will still resonate with my core fan base. But it’s going to be elevated... and just bigger.”
2020 has been a breakthrough year for female rap, and Latto is making it clear that the genre isn’t a passing phase––the dynasty of “rap kings” is over. As Latto confirms, “Females have something to say right now, and you don't really have a choice. We are all in your face. We are all on your TV. We are all on your social media. We are all on your billboards. We are everywhere. It's a plethora of us from different cities, with different skin tones, and from different flows. We are all in our own lane and are all winning at the same time. You can ride the wave, but you can’t ignore the wave.”
Order HIGHStyle, a magazine by Highsnobiety, via our online store.