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LATTO | IT’S PROBABLY TIME TO GO BIG ON BIG

September 8, 2022

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

Latto recently woke up in the morning to not one, not two, but three MTV VMA nominations, and she couldn’t be more elated. One of the VMA nominations is for the Video for Good Award for her newest release, “PXSSY,” arguably her most impactful song during the height of the Roe v. Wade overturn. While you may know Latto for her bangers—with Latto even going on record herself saying she does “way more than just rap about sex”—“PXSSY” is the perfect example of the artist using her platform for the greater good. This is an anthem for women all around the world, to unite and speak out for their freedom to do as they wish with their bodies.

What most people may not know is that the Platinum-selling recording artist launched her own Win Some Give Some Foundation to provide resources and support for at-risk teens and mothers. She also launched her inaugural ‘Latto 4 The Ladies & Babies’ Christmas party, in partnership with Rainbow House, to offer meals and Christmas gifts for young moms and their children.

At only 23 years old, Latto is already accomplishing what most artists wish they could in a lifetime—and she’s doing her part in giving back to the community all the while. Boasting 9.5 million followers on Instagram, 14.1 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and 1.49 million subscribers on YouTube, it’s safe to say Latto has created her own lane in the music industry, unleashing hit record after hit record, while giving audiences all around the world the confidence that they, too, can make their wildest dreams come true.

This year alone, Latto took home the trophy for Best New Artist at the BET Awards, brought out the iconic Mariah Carey at the award show to perform the official remix to “Big Energy,” and released her critically-acclaimed album 777, with standout features from Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, 21 Savage, Lil Durk, Nardo Wick, and Kodak Black. But Latto is no overnight story—she has been grinding for a very long time, and her ascent to the forefront of hip-hop has been anything but easy. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia—Clayton County to be exact—real name Alyssa Michelle Stephens, she has been rapping since the age of 8 years old. At age 16, she dominated the spotlight on the reality television show called The Rap Game (hosted by Jermaine Dupri), even coming out as the winner of season one.

In 2020, Latto signed with RCA Records, and the Capricorn in her kicked into overdrive. Meaning, Latto’s work ethic is unmatched: spending endless hours in the studio perfecting her craft, overseeing all the creative direction in her outfits and visuals, and, of course, relentlessly practicing choreography in rehearsals to give her fans the best show possible. Because if you’re lucky enough to have seen Latto perform in person, you know she’s giving you your money’s worth. In fact, she recently announced she will be joining Lizzo on The Special Tour, with Lizzo personally choosing Latto as her opening guest—the perfect example of women supporting one another within the industry.

How are you doing? How does it feel to be here? You look fabulous. 

Thank you, it’s lit. I’m good. I’ve been out here in LA for almost a month now, just working.

How was Hawaii? You went for your birthday?

For my sister’s birthday, she’s so spoiled. We went for the first time to Hawaii. We were on the Big Island, it was so fun. It was a relaxing trip. It wasn’t like ahhh, turn up. I’ve been going nonstop. It was more like, okay, let me take a break.

We definitely want to talk about “PXSSY,” we love how relatable it is. Bring us back to that studio session—what inspired the record? 

I first heard the beat, and I loved how different the beat was. My process is always hearing the beat first. You know, I’m a youngin’. [laughs] So I called my A&R, Jay Grand. I asked, ‘What is this sample? What’re they talking about? What’re they saying?’ I just heard that high-pitched voice. I liked it, what is it? They told me what it was. I’m like okay, I can elaborate on that subject. Especially since at the time, Roe v. Wade wasn’t overturned yet. It was just in talks of being overturned.

Which is still fucking crazy. 

Still crazy! So I touched on a little bit of that, just the ways of society right now in general. Then it ended up being overturned a month after I recorded that song. I’m like, ‘Oh, this gotta come out now.’ It literally fell in my lap, it was crazy.

How does it feel to make a record so impactful with your platform? You’re on fire sis, I know people tell you all the time.

Thank you! It feels good. I feel like my purpose is bigger than booty-shaking singles.

Those are fire too.

Yeah, they fire too now! Don’t get me wrong, but my purpose is bigger than that. It’s cool to let people see me in a different light. Because a lot of people don’t know me as a person, how hands-on I am with stuff, and my true beliefs and morals as a woman. They get sidetracked by the glittery outfits, all that stuff. But I got something to say.

Can you explain the cover art? 

I wanted the artwork to be very eye-catching. I wanted it to be vibrant, and definitely pink for pussy pink. As soon as you see the cover art, you know what the song is about. Very vulgar in the sense, I wanted it to be like, ‘Bitch, I’m not holding back! I’m not sugarcoating, bitch pussy.’

Obviously, you were nominated for three VMA’s.

I woke up to all these text messages, usually my phone dry, baby. My phone be dry, unless it’s work. I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ People were telling me congratulations, literally that was this morning. I’m like, ‘Oh shit! Okay.’

How does it feel? Because very well-deserved.

Surreal. Surreal. Wait, I just dropped that song. It’s nominated? You sure? Best New Artist fingers crossed. Then ‘Big Energy’ is making history literally, so that’s super dope too.

I was at the BET Awards, you were holding back tears. Your speech was everything. 

Yeah, I was. Thank you. I really winged it, chile. I was nervous because, oh my God, what the fuck am I going to say?

Did you think you were going to win Best New Artist? 

No. This sounds bad, I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer. But I was so used to being nominated, nominated, nominated, and not winning. My first nomination was 2020, the BET Hip Hop Awards. Ever since then, I’ve been nominated for a couple of big award shows, but I never won. So oh, another one. Yeah right, girl! It was super fun.

Another legendary moment, you brought out Mariah Carey on stage.

For real, that’s iconic. These bitches not bringing out Mariah Carey, period. The Mariah. She loves me so much in real life, we just vibed. When we first did the song, I was hella nervous. But by the time we did the awards, I’m not nervous around her no more. That’s my best friend.

How surreal was that to be on stage with her?

It was so fun. She always makes stuff so comfortable. I was asking her what outfit I should wear, I was showing her my sketches. She makes stuff so fun. With her, you cannot overthink. You cannot because you will get in your own head like, ‘Oh my God, I’m standing next to a legend. What do I say? How do I act?’ But if you just let it flow, she will sit there and pour up her liquor with you. [laughs] She’s super fun.

‘Big Energy’ is at 30 million views on YouTube, just the original. How does it feel to see those numbers? 

Crazy. Big Energy’ in general, aside from YouTube, everything about that song is doing stuff that I didn’t even think could be done. I’m like it ain’t nothing. It’s 2022—there’s no history to make. But they just told me I’m the first female rapper to have #1 at Urban, Pop, and Rhythmic. Some crazy shit. It’s still shit to be done in 2022? That’s crazy.

Can we expect the Mariah ‘Big Energy’ video? 

I don’t know. She’s a busy woman, I’m a busy woman. We both got a lot of stuff going on. You know DJ Khaled is on it too, so he’s a busy man. He’s working on his album. He’s always on Instagram talking about ‘album coming soon!’ That shit is not as easy as it sounds, videos are crazy. My solo videos be crazy.

Your videos are incredible. Do you do all the creative direction?

I do help with the creative direction, like styling and everything. I’m very hands-on.

I saw you dressed yourself for Rolling Loud. 

I did! Shout out to L.O.C.A., she made the outfit for me. Definitely custom.

How was that, because that’s a lot of people out there for you!

I love Rolling Loud, I ain’t gon’ lie. Rolling Loud Miami is the best. I did New York and I did LA, nothing fucking with Miami. Miami vibes just be different. I really want to live in Miami. Miami is so lit, and this is my first time going on at nighttime. My first Rolling Loud, I went on hella early, like 3 PM. Then last year I went on something cute, like 6 PM. Okay girl, you right there. Now this year, I went on at nighttime. You could tell the crowd’s like light it up, light it up.’ It was lit, I felt like a superstar.

Full circle moment. Do you get nervous?

Mmm, it depends for what. I’m backwards. Performing for however many thousands of people at Rolling Loud does not make me nervous, but I’m nervous when you walked in this room to interview me.

Stop! 

I be nervous about the littlest things. The small stuff like interviews or photoshoots, that’s what makes me nervous. But the big ole arena performances, let’s go! I’m finna go on tour with Lizzo, oh, I can’t wait.

I was gonna ask about the Lizzo tour. How excited are you? 

I’m hella excited. I asked my project manager Kayla, ‘What’s Lizzo’s address so I could send her some flowers?’ I had sent her a congrats bouquet on her album, and thank you for adding me on the tour. I’m hella excited for that one. Lizzo wants me on her tour? Lizzo and Latto, I always say that too. It just rings, it sounds like they’re supposed to go together.

So, she personally picked you?

Yes! I saw that she did an interview with Ebro, she was saying she’s super hands-on with choosing the people. Wow, she really chose me.

I actually went to your show at The Novo. You put on a hell of a performance! 

Yeah, I don’t play. First of all, that’s my favorite part about what I do. Performing is my favorite part, so I’m very critical when it comes to my performances. I practice, I run on the treadmill. I practice like a motherfucker. I’m hella in tune with my choreography. Even down to where I want pyro to hit at, where I want my DJ to drop.

Shout out DJ Von, right?

Yeah, DJ Von. We all make it a very collaborative show.

So what’s rehearsals like?

Rehearsals will either be: my DJ will be hella late, and then I cuss him out. [laughs] I cuss him out as I’m late too, but you can’t be later than me, though. Nah, we be having little rehearsals, in front of the mirror or whatever. Then we be having phone calls, talking about the pyro and where we want certain stuff to hit. Even down to phone calls about the dancers’ outfits matching mine. I design my dancers’ outfits too. I didn’t make them, but I designed them.

You used to have a clothing store right? 

Yeah, a long time ago. People don’t be knowing about that. I had a boutique on the South side. It was super lit. My rap started outgrowing it, so I had to, say, okay, I’m making too much money. My clothing store was called Pittstop Boutique because my dad—his whole thing was Pittstop. Yeah girl, that’s a whole ‘nother story for another day. It was really ghetto. [laughs] It was very ghetto, but baby I was 17 running a whole store, and I was making bank. I bought my Benz cash.

It’s giving boss bitch!

I never even talked about this. But I was 17, had my own store, doing online orders. I was making bank too, but then this started taking off, and I’m like, ‘Oh, now I’m really really making bank.’

Is it true you were a tomboy?

I was, I still kind of am. I’m not as girly as people think I am. People think because they be seeing me in them little booty shorts on stage, that’s just the aesthetic of being a bad bitch. But I’m still very tomboy.

What was Latto like throwing parties in high school?

See, people don’t even be knowing about that. One thing about me, I found a way to get some money. I used to make bank. Them parties, I was making probably $10K when I was doing them. For real, charging the door, snacks. Not alcohol drinks, but water and soda. I found a way to keep some money on me, and I sold candy in elementary school. I was the candy lady in elementary school.

How much do you sell the candy for? 

I wouldn’t make no $10K, but you know in fifth grade, you don’t got shit to buy but toys. So I was already turnt up.

What is a regular day in the life of Latto? 

It depends where I’m at, what I got going on, because chile. Like right now, boom I’m in LA, so I’m waking up doing some type of shoot. I’ll probably wake up: for me, early is 11 AM. That’s early baby, that’s early. So I’ll try to wake up a little bit before then, hit the treadmill, do a light workout, and go to the shoot. By the end of the shoot, like last night I left set at midnight. So I be trying to go home, lay with my man for a little bit. Dang! Taking all my time [laughs]. I try to have a little bit of me time before I go to sleep and have to wake up early and work. Then I be bringing my kid to work with me, probably have him in some expensive drip [points to dog].

I love that you slid in the shoutout to your man in the BET Awards speech.

Yeah! They ain’t even peep that.

He’s probably so proud. 

He is. I’m such a sucker for love. I am. I act so tough, but I’m a Capricorn.

Me too! 

You are? Wait no, I remember we had this conversation. We act hella hard on the outside, but once you tap through that layer, we literally just melt. We melt.

What is your perfect recording environment like? 

I like the studio dark, and I like moody lights. I’ll change the lights to red, blue, pink, green. I’ve tried all the colors, even them not even named colors. Then probably some Casamigos. I stopped smoking hookah in the studio because girl, you be running too much to be fucking your lungs up like that. Just backwards, so I stopped. I used to have a hookah 24/7 but an eight-hour session, smoking hookah the whole time is really bad. I stopped doing it, so really just tequila now. Really, I don’t even be drinking like that anymore.

You have so many epic collabs. Do you have a favorite? I love your shit with Saucy Santana. 

Ooh, obviously that’s hard. If I had to say favorite, I’d say Saucy just because I know him personally, so it’s always fun when you’re working with your friend. And that song going the fuck up on TikTok.

Booty’? 

Like damn, yeah ‘Booty.’ They love ‘Booty’ on TikTok. I have ‘Business’ with Lakeyah going up on TikTok too, I like that one. I like them all. One thing about me, I don’t do no features if I don’t fuck with the song or the artist. You can’t throw some money at me and I be like, ‘Oh bet.’

Who do you listen to when you work out? 

I listen to my unreleased music. That’s really a time where I wake up and I be texting my A&R’s like, ‘Oh, I fuck with this song right now.’ I listen to a lot of my unreleased music. I do that Apple Music hip-hop workout playlist. I’ll listen to new music. That’s where anybody who dropped that Friday, I’ll listen to their projects. Right now, I’ve been listening to Flo Milli’s project.

Talk about giving back to your community.

I have my foundation, she’s a baby. She’s still growing, but Win Some Give Some is my little nonprofit. I had my first event last December and it was in Clayton County where I’m from. We had a Christmas giveaway, I was there physically. Pulled up and blessed the city.

You’re continuously making history. Do you have any goals? 

Well, one of my goals was to win an award this year, so woohoo. One of my goals was to be Top 40, and I had a fucking #3, so that’s big. It’s really going to be multiplying my goals. Now that I won my award, now my next goal is to have a room of awards.

Anything else you wanna let us know? 

Deluxe coming soon.

777 is fire! 

They sleep online, so we gonna have to deluxe it, repackage it, and put it back in their face. But fingers crossed, if everything goes as planned, there will be a highly anticipated feature on that.

How can you go bigger than Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, Mariah Carey…? 

I’m not going to lie, baby, I’m already going big. So it’s just time to go big on big.

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