- Latto (b. Alyssa Michelle Stephens) is an American rapper.
- She is best known for her song “Big Energy,” which won Song Of The Year at the 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards.
- Latto is up for two awards at the 2023 Grammys, including Best New Artist.
After a year of sending some jolts of “energy” through the rap game with her charisma, attitude, and flow, Latto is poised to collect some gold during music’s biggest night. Latto, 24, concludes one of the biggest years of her career, one that saw her drop her 777 album and top charts with her “Big Energy” – by heading to the 65th Annual Grammy Awards (Feb. 5) with two nominations under her belt: Best Melodic Rap Performance, and Best New Artist.
For Best New Artist, Latto is nominated alongside many rising stars in the music world: bands like Wet Leg and Måneskin; singers like Samara Joy, Muni Long, Omar Apollo, and Anitta; rapper Tobe Nwigwe; multiple instrumentalist and vocalist Molly Tuttle; and jazz duo Domi and JD Beck. For the Best Melodic Rap Performance, Latto is nominated alongside Jack Harlow (“First Class”), Future with Drake and SZA (“Wait For U”), DJ Khaled with Future and SZA (“Beautiful”), and Kendrick Lamar featuring Blxst and Amanda Reifer (“Die Hard”).
Whether or not she takes homes the awards, Latto will keep winning. So, who is this new rap superstar? Let’s find out more about Latto.
Latto Is A Rapper
Latto was born on Dec. 22, 1998, in Columbus, Ohio, and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She started rapping at age ten, according to All Music. She released a handful of mixtapes in the latter half of the 2010s, before releasing her debut studio album, Queen of da Souf, in 2020. In March 2022, she released 777, her second studio album.
“I wanted to solidify myself and where I fit in the industry,” Latto told Complex about 777. “This is just the first introduction. ‘Big Energy’ is the pop sound from this project. I got an R&B sound. I got the rap trap sound. I got some rhythmic stuff that I did with Pharrell, just different swaggy stuff.”
She Won The Rap Game
At age 16, she joined the Queen Latifah/Jermaine Dupri-produced Lifetime reality-television show, The Rap Game. The boot camp-style show pitted rappers against each other and Latto, under her “Miss Mulatto” name, won the competition. Jermaine Dupri offered her a recording contract on his So So Def Records label, but she turned it down, saying it wasn’t enough money (h/t Vlad TV).
She Identifies As Biracial
When Latto first began rapping, she went under the name “Miss Mulatto,” transforming the ugly racist term into a source of pride (journalist Nadra Kareem Nittle wrote about the ugly roots of the term in an article for Thought Co.)
“I’m passionate about my race,” a then 15-year-old Latto said, per Hip Hop DX. “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. Why do I have to choose one or the other? I’m both. That’s what I want to go by.”
“My mom was pregnant with me when she was 15 years old. She went to a majority white school, so of course, her being 15 years old, pregnant by a Black man, that was just too much for them to handle,” the teenage Latto added. “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. I’m ready for this. Let’s go.”
She Adopted The Latto Name In 2021
She ultimately changed her stage name to Latto in 2021. “You know you might know your intentions, but these are strangers who don’t know you, never even met you in person,” she said in a Hot Freestyle interview (h/t Billboard). “So you gotta hear each other out, and if you know those aren’t your intentions, and that’s how it’s being perceived, it’s like, why not make a change or alter it? For me, it was the name. So now I’m like, ‘OK, my intentions was to never glorify being mulatto.’ So if that’s how it’s being perceived and people think I’m saying, ‘Oh, I’m better because I’m mulatto’ or ‘My personality trait is mulatto’ … then I need to change the matter at hand.”
Latto Has Spoken Out About How ‘Female Rappers Have It Harder’
In March 2022, Latto spoke about some of the struggles she had to face in her career. “I’m clearing my album right now, and it’s been, like, difficult to deal with these men, you know what I’m saying? They don’t know how to keep it business,” she said in a sit-down interview with Big Boy TV, per Complex. “I’m just keeping 100. It’s a feature on my album that it was difficult to clear, and they like trying to drop their nuts on me because I won’t respond to a DM.”
“My intentions was not to, like, make this a whole thing,” she later told The Breakfast Club about the comments. “I just was looking at it as, like, I’m a new female rapper in the game. I wish somebody could have gave me some insight about how this stuff really goes. You hear, like, ‘Oh, female rappers have it harder.’ But I wanted to give a little insight into what specifically makes it harder for a female rapper. I didn’t want it to distract from the music or anything so I kind of wish, in a way, I didn’t say that.”
“A lot of times we’re bullied behind closed doors by these corporations or male artists or male producers or billion-dollar businesses and labels going against you,” she later explained in a Complex interview. “They can call the shots on your creativity, which I think is very lame and unfair. But I think my little voice can make an impact and maybe encourage other people to speak on what they go through, too, because I’m not the only female that experiences these things, but we’re told to silence it.”
Later in the year, a bitter back-and-forth beef broke out between Latto and Nicki Minaj, following The Hollywood Reporter claiming that The Recording Academy, the organization behind the Grammys, won’t consider Nicki’s “Super Freak Girl” song for the rap categories, and will instead consider it a pop song. “I have no prob being moved out the RAP category as long as we r ALL being treated FAIRLY,” Nicki, 39, tweeted in response to the report. “If [‘Super Freaky Girl’] has 2B moved out RAP then so does [Latto’s Song] ‘Big Energy!’ ANY1 who says diff is simply a Nicki hater or a troll.”
Damn I can’t win for losing… all these awards/noms I can’t even celebrate
— BIG LATTO 🍀🎰🍒 (@Latto) October 14, 2022
Latto seemingly responded to Nicki dragging her into this conversation by tweeting, “Damn, I can’t win for losing… all these awards/noms I can’t even celebrate.” Apparently, the two attempted to discuss things privately, but the fight went public. Nicki called Latto a “Karen” in a now-deleted tweet, Latto said Nicki was “literally older than my mom [and] tryna be a bully.” The public fight continued to get messy, with the Barbz getting involved and DMs being shared. Ultimately, Nicki deleted most of her comments.Click to Subscribe to Get Our Free HollywoodLife Daily Newsletter to get the hottest celeb news.