Atlanta rapper Mulatto says she's finally considering a name change. This change of heart follows years of criticism over the derogatory racial connotations of her rap moniker.
Speaking to HotNewHipHop, Mulatto gave some insight into why she’s no longer adamant about sticking to the name she’s gone by for so long. "The older I get, you know, just the state of the world right now with Donald Trump being the president... police brutality, just reaching a point where the world is fed up."
She continued, “I was out on the frontlines marching for victims of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. To me, you get to a point where [the name] is not worth it anymore. I don’t know. Your intention is kind of being misinterpreted. So it’s like you’ve got to self reflect and go back to the drawing board.”
The rapper, whose real name is Alyssa Michelle Stephens, has been criticized for her rap name's colorist intonations. The word "mulatto" is widely known as a racial slur for biracial people. Merriam Webster defines it as "the first-generation offspring of a black person and a white person," which is deemed "offensive."
The word's negative connotation goes back to its history. According to Michigan State University's online glossary, the term dates from 1593 and comes from the Spanish or Portuguese term mulato, meaning "of mixed breed," literally "young mule," possibly an allusion to the hybrid origin of mules. Mulattoes were seen as being “a new class, above the slave but below the French whites." Slave masters often treated their mixed-race offspring better than other slaves.
Hence, the word has been attached to colorism since its conception. Mulatto has always been aware of its history and faced criticism since starting her rap career as Miss Mulatto in the rap competition show The Rap Game. The then-16-year-old defended her moniker, saying it was a way for her to reclaim the power the slur holds.
"I’m passionate about my race. I’m Miss Mulatto. The term mulatto technically is a racist slur. It means someone that’s half black and half white. So it’s, like, controversial. I took that negativity from the word mulatto and now everybody calls me Miss Mulatto. So many people doubt you: 'oh, she’s not going to be able to do this, she’s a mutt, oh, she can’t do this.' I have to show this is what I’ve been working for."
For years the rapper has been adamant that she would not change her name, but it seems the pushback has gotten to her. "I'm not a colorist," she told The Shade Room yesterday. While's she's had a change of heart, it will take a while to find a new name and make it official. "It's still in the works, like, people gotta understand too that, at this level in an artist's career that's not just something that happens overnight."
Mulatto isn't the first rapper to change her name to reflect a more conscious understanding of its implications. In 2016, Noname dropped the word "Gypsy" from her rap name, and in 2018 "Rich Chigga" became Rich Brian for obvious reasons.