The 23-year-old rapper – whose Mariah Carey-sampling hit “Big Energy” has stayed in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 for the last six weeks, thanks in part to a remix with Mimi herself and DJ Khaled – chopped it up with Billboard R&B/hip-hop staff writer Neena Rouhani about how she’s taking over the rap game while holding it down for the South.
Here are the five takeaways from Latto’s “The Future of Hip-Hop” panel:
She’s living her 8-year-old self’s biggest dreams
The ATL MC told Rouhani that she’s been rapping since she was only 8 years old. “This is everything that I prayed for, I worked for,” she reflected. “It’s been a long process, and I’m grateful for the come-up and everything that’s happening right now. This is 8-year-old me’s dream. Everything was a dream, and it’s real life now.”
Latto works out to Flo Milli’s music and appreciates the representation of female rappers from the South
“I be working out to myself too – is that cocky?” she jokingly asked the crowd after telling those at Area 15 that the fellow Southern rapper is on her workout playlist. And Latto always dishes out flowers to her female rap comrades who’ve consistently shown her support. She argues they’re “taking that stigma away from the blogs and fanbases” of hating on each other and showing each other love by “[following] each other on Instagram, commenting under each other’s pictures… collabing with each other, shouting each other out [during interviews]. During the interview, Latto shouted out Cardi B for the time she sent her a voice note telling her to “keep going” and “F [the haters], get your money, do you.” Bia DMed her when she released her sophomore studio album 777 in March. And Latto had to give props to Trina, who she says was “my first big feature” on her top 40 Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs hit “Bi— From Da Souf.” “And I was independent when I did that,” she noted.
“I hope to see representation of a plethora of women,” she added about what she hopes the future holds for female rappers such as herself. “I feel like, right now, you got so many women representing different areas on a map. You got me, City Girls, Megan [Thee Stallion] representing the South versus Gangsta Boo, Trina, they pretty much held it down. Now, you got West Coast, you got Midwest…. We all representing our own city.”
Her favorite songs on Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday album are “Roman’s Revenge,” “Blazin” and “Dear Old Nicki”
Even though Latto laughed about how she talks about how she stood in line to buy the Pink Friday CD too much in interviews, it only shows how much Minaj and that project has had an influence on her. She listed “Roman’s Revenge,” “Blazin” and “Dear Old Nicki” as her top three favorites from Minaj’s first album. “Her as an artist, her as a woman, she was just so intriguing,” Latto elaborated. “It’s deeper than music when you see her influence to this day.” And her eyes are definitely set on a Nicki collab.
Latto compared the pros and cons of social media
On the good side, she noted, the Internet has made her reach bigger across the world, like going platinum in a country she’s never traveled to before like New Zealand, and allowed her to brand herself and “connect the face to the music.” “My caption will be my own lyrics and make videos to my songs,” Latto explained. The cons? Her clapbacks. “I don’t know how to shut up sometimes,” she admitted. So when asked what bad habit she’s trying to kill in the next couple of years, “responding negatively on social media” immediately came to mind.
Her fantasy vacation spot is Jamaica – and making Caribbean music might be involved
When asked about where she plans to travel to in the next five years, Latto answered, “I want to go to Jamaica. I’m obsessed with Caribbean culture.” Does that mean the artist from the Souf will be serving big island gyal energy in upcoming releases? “Maybe,” she said, “and some authentic jerk chicken and plantains.”