Rapper Latto (born Alyssa Michelle Stephens) is from the United States. The song “Big Energy,” which she wrote, is her most well-known work and won Song Of The Year at the 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards. Latto is competing for two Grammys in 2023, including Best New Artist.
Latto has been “energy” in the rap game for a year with her charm, attitude, and flow, and she’s ready to win big on music’s biggest night. Latto, 24 years old, is up for two Grammys on February 5: Best Melodic Rap Performance and Best New Artist. This is the end of one of the busiest years of her career, in which she released 777 albums and hit No. 1 on the charts with “Big Energy.”
Latto is nominated for “Best New Artist,” along with Wet Leg, Mneskin, Samara Joy, Muni Long, Omar Apollo, Anitta, rapper Tobe Nwigwe, singer and multi-instrumentalist Molly Tuttle, and jazz duo Domi and JD Beck. Latto is up against Jack Harlow (“First Class”), Future, Drake, and SZA (“Wait For U”), DJ Khaled, Future, and SZA (“Beautiful”), and Kendrick Lamar with Blxst and Amanda Reifer (“Die Hard”) for the award for Best Melodic Rap Performance.
Latto will continue to triumph whether or not she wins the prizes. Who exactly is this brand-new rap superstar? Learn more about Latto by reading on.
Who is Latto?
Latto was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, after being born on December 22, 1998, in Columbus, Ohio. All Music claims that she began rapping at the age of ten.
Before releasing her debut studio album, Queen of the Souf, in 2020, she put out a few mixtapes throughout the second half of the 2010s. She fired 777, her second studio album, in March 2022. Latto told Complex about 777:
“I wanted to solidify myself and where I fit in the industry. 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.”
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She Won The Rap Game
When she was 16, she started appearing on The Rap Game, a Lifetime reality show hosted by Queen Latifah and Jermaine Dupri. Rappers competed in the boot camp-style show, and Latto, going by the name “Miss Mulatto,” took first place. She declined a recording deal with Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def Records label because she felt it wasn’t worth the money (h/t Vlad TV).
She Adopted The Latto Name In 2021
She said in a Hot Freestyle interview (h/t Billboard):
“You know, you might know your intentions, but these are strangers who don’t know you, never even met you in person. 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.”
According to Latto, “Female Rappers Have It Harder.”
Latto discussed some of her challenges throughout her profession in March 2022:
“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.”
She later told The Breakfast Club about the comments:
“My intentions was not to, like, make this a whole thing. 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 on in the year, Latto and Nicki Minaj got into a nasty back-and-forth dispute after The Hollywood Reporter reported that The Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammy Awards, would not accept Nicki’s “Super Freak Girl” song for the rap categories and would instead classify it as 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.”
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.” The two allegedly made an effort to speak discreetly, but the argument became 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 altercation got messier as the Barbz joined in and DMs were exchanged. In the end, Nicki erased the majority of her remarks.