From “The Rap Game” to becoming the first solo female rap act from Atlanta to go Gold, Big Latto is out here manifesting her childhood dreams. Up next, she has her sights set on a collaboration with Nicki Minaj.
Rappers come out of nowhere, these days. Sometimes, you can’t even trace their origin story, allowing the Internet to create a narrative of its own. That’s certainly not the case for 21-year old Mulatto, though. She’s already made history as the first female rapper from Atlanta to obtain a Gold plaque certified by the RIAA. “Bitch From Da Souf” took on a life of its own after Trina and Saweetie hopped on the remix, inaugurating a new Queen into the rap game. Mulatto’s come-up has been well-documented. Her awkward teen years were chronicled on Lifetime’s The Rap Game where she won the first season. She was 16 at the time. Fast forward five years later, and Mulatto’s carved out her own path in hip-hop, emerging at a time when we’re witnessing an uprising of female MCs.
“I’m the first solo female rapper from Atlanta to go gold. So it’s like now, I can say I’m the Queen of the South,” she told HNHH in our latest episode of On The Come Up. “When I turned down that deal from The Rap Game, so many people were like, ‘You know, you making a mistake. You not gon’ get this opportunity again. Don’t get too big-headed.’ And this is for those people, period.”
Her household was filled with Southern rap and trap music from the region. Living in Riverdale, Waka was damn-near a neighbor and she credits her father as the reason why she’s such a fan of Gucci Mane. Things came full circle for Mulatto this past summer when she released the first single off of Queen Of Da Souf, “MuWop.” Interpolating Gucci Mane’s “Freaky,” and getting a verse from GuWop, the coveted co-sign came later than many would expect from Gucci. He even raps on the verse that he tried to sign Mulatto, but she was signed already.
“The producer that made ‘Muwop’ hit me and he was like, ‘Yeah I sent it to Gucci and he was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do the verse, but what’s her label situation? I wanna sign her. She signed?’’ So that was not cap when he said he tried to sign Mulatto and she was signed already,” she explained. “Even when I met Gucci, he was just like, ‘Man, how I miss out on you, shawty? Like, I fucked up.’”
Mulatto’s truly living out childhood dreams. One that she’s fantasized about since the age of 10.
On the latest episode of On The Come Up, Mulatto details her biggest takeaway from The Rap Game, Queen Of Da Souf, Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” and so much more.
Read the full, interview below, lightly edited for clarity. You can also catch it in visual format below.
For more video content with Mulatto, watch her unpack the essentials she carries in her purse here.
Mulatto: Mulatto is the first solo female rapper from Atlanta to go Gold. Period. I’m for real. I’m 21. I’m just, like, the Queen of the South. The authentic voice for the people. The come-up, got-up-out-the-mud story.
When you were a kid growing up in Atlanta, what was that atmosphere and environment like for you?
I was born in Columbus, Ohio, but my parents moved to Atlanta when I was two years old, so it’s like, I don’t really know much about anything other than Atlanta. And then, specifically, I grew up on the southside of Atlanta in Clayton County. We call it ClayCo. So it’s like, that’s where the country-ness comes in. I’m not from the city. I’m from ClayCo, so it’s more country. I went to ClayCo schools all my life, like elementary up to high school. You know, growing up in Atlanta, that music was just like embedded in you. I feel like if I would have been raised in Columbus, I probably wouldn’t have ended up being a rapper or the rapper I am today. That’s why I credit where I’m from so much. It’s like Queen of Da Souf, “Bitch From Da Souf”, ATL hoe. Like, I’m always crediting where I’m from, because it’s like, growing up anywhere else; I don’t feel like it would have had the same result.
What type of artists from your neighborhood were you seeing on the street that made rap seem like a viable career choice for you?
Atlanta got so many other people that have made it from the city. So it’s like, growing up in Atlanta and aspiring to be a rapper, it just felt so tangible. It’s like so many other people from the hood, from the city, really made it. Like, I can too. More specifically, like Waka from Riverdale. When my parents first moved here, we first moved to Riverdale, you know what I’m saying? Like I grew up on Tip, Gucci. Gucci always been my favorite rapper since the beginning. Gucci was always my favorite rapper. I grew up on OutKast. Really, just Atlanta rap. It’s so crazy because Atlanta been the forefront for hip-hop trap music for a long minute now, but it ain’t been no female face for it, you know what I’m saying? So it’s like, I wear my city on my back.
I know you started rapping when you were ten years old, but prior to that, what were some things you were interested in in school. What were some of your aspirations before wanting to become a rapper?
Before rap, I was like — well, language arts was always my favorite subject. I was a schoolgirl, like real heavy into books, heavy on education. But I was popular at the same time. So it’s like that poetry and just paying attention in language arts and writing and essays and stuff, that kind of like turned into lyrics and raps. But it really started out just being real into school. Like, I always loved school growing up. Them poems turned into lyrics, probably because you know, growing up in Atlanta, just being around music, just the city of creatives and Black music.
What type of music was being played in the house growing up?
Old trap music was being played in the house growing up. Gucci has always been my favorite rapper for a reason. That’s what I was raised on. I listened to Gucci because that’s what was playing in the house. My daddy was big on Southern rap and it just transpired.
What was your experience in high school like?
In high school, I was like, super-popular, but I was real about my education, so it’s like, I was in all the honors classes, AP classes, honor roll. I never made nothing on my report cards lower than a B. So, it’s like, I was the popular girl. I made it cool to be popular, but still be a nerd. I would be at the lunch table, roasting and freestyling, but like I went right to class after that. I didn’t play about my education.
You said your dad used to bring you to the drag races, right? So could you talk to me a little bit about how that influenced you growing up? Like seeing, you know, the ballers from the city, you see rappers from the city, plus the lifestyle that comes with it. How did that influence you?
Yeah, so before rap I definitely drag raced. I was always doing something crazy. Like, I’m rapping now. If I wasn’t a rapper, I would have been a drag racer. But all the men in my family, they drag raced. And then, just growing up in Atlanta I would go to these races with, like, my dad, my grandpa, my cousins, my uncles. Literally all the men drag raced. So I would be going with them and it’d be like all the big dope boys in the city, the rappers. All the street n***as, it would be– like when you hear drag racing you think of some country like Nascar. People think it’s Nascar. It’s not Nascar. It’s like cookouts and music. People be performing. Big rims. Cameras out. Everybody popping they shit because it’s Atlanta, you know what I’m saying? We known for popping our shit. Bets going on. Gambling on who gon’ win the race and it’s like more of a culture thing in Atlanta. So it’s like, growing up on the scene of that, it’s definitely influenced me.
“Before rap I definitely drag raced. I was always doing something crazy. Like, I’m rapping now. If I wasn’t a rapper, I would have been a drag racer. But all the men in my family, they drag raced.”
Who was one of the first big rappers you encountered while you were at a drag race?
I opened up for a lot of people when I would be performing at the drag races. Like they got this show called Stunt Fest that go on every year in Atlanta, and I opened up for — I can’t recall like the first one, but I know I’ve opened up for Gucci before. I’ve opened up for Future. I’ve opened up like them heavy Atlanta names. I done opened up for them before at the drag races.
Looking back on it, what do you think the biggest lesson you learned from being on The Rap Game was?
The biggest lesson I learned from being on The Rap Game would probably be to just like use my voice and not be — just really be headstrong. Like at that age, I was 16. So it’s like, you could easily fall for the traps of production and like, TV’s different. It’s real manipulative, so you could really fall into those traps at that age. Like getting set up to say certain things. To be portrayed in a certain light. Or like, to feed into the drama. So like, I would say, the biggest thing I learned is like, to have a voice and stand on ten, and not fall for the mess. It’s just like, not let people manipulate me and sway me.
How do you feel that experience shaped your career to where you’re at now?
The Rap Game, it was like a platform that I used and I used it to my best advantage. And took everything that I could from the show and just ran with it. The audience, the fans. Took that and ran with it. The lessons I learned. Took that and ran with it. Like even to this day I still apply that same mentality as far as, like, not letting people manipulate me as far as TV production and staff. I use that to this day on an industry level. Like no A&R, no record exec, no manager, publicist, is gonna tell me how I’mma be me, you know what I’m saying?
Who are some influences just across the board, not necessarily just from the south, that have influenced who you are today?
Growing up, I was the biggest Nicki Minaj fan. I was in fifth grade. I was probably around ten years old when Nicki came out the gate swinging. Like, when she just flooded the industry. So, I was the biggest fan. Cut my hair in bangs, pink dye, like all that. So I’d say another influence I had that’s not from Atlanta or the south, period, is Nicki. That’s where my lyrics come into play. Southern rappers got their bounce or whatever, but I still, I got that bounce with heavy bars and punchlines. Probably from inspirations like Nicki.
Are there any other influences that you think shaped your sound and the way you create music right now?
Nah. Because I started rapping so young, I’d say no. It’s just like Atlanta and Nicki.
On “Muwop,” Guccisaid he wants to sign you, but you were signed already. Did he really try to get you on the 1017 roster?
The producer that made “Muwop” hit me and he was like, “Yeah I sent it to Gucci and he was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do the verse, but what’s her label situation? I wanna sign her. She signed?'” So that was not cap when he said he tried to sign Mulatto and she was signed already. That was not cap. But the producer let him know, “Nah, she literally just signed a deal. Like she just signed, RCA, whatever.” Even when I met Gucci, he was just like, “Man, how I miss out on you, shawty? Like, I fucked up.”
“The producer that made “Muwop” hit me and he was like, “Yeah I sent it to Gucci and he was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do the verse, but what’s her label situation? I wanna sign her. She signed?'” So that was not cap when he said he tried to sign Mulatto and she was signed already.”
You’re really kinda coming up as a fashion icon of sorts. Who are some people that influence your fashion?
Fashion-wise, like I already knew. Like I didn’t wanna just stop at music. Like, I wanna be a fashion girl. I wanna have brand partnerships, makeup, perfume. Like I never wanted to stop at music. I know I’m way bigger than music, so fashion was just like another branch. When I got my foot in the door, I was like “Okay.” Music is always the focus, but “Hey, by the way, I’m giving y’all looks. Back-to-back looks.” But, as far as influences on fashion, I wouldn’t say it’s like one particular person. A lot of my mood boards and stuff be Lil Kim, though. But of course, she is the blueprint for like, women in fashion. So, if I had to credit someone, I’d say Kim, cuz she’s always on my mood board.
“Bitch From The Souf,” you had Trina and Saweetie on the remix and it blew up even further. And now you’re the first solo female rapper from Atlanta to earn a gold plaque because of that song. First off, how does it feel? That’s a major milestone, not only for you but for Atlanta, as a whole.
Being the first female rapper from Atlanta to go gold. To be certified, period, it’s just like, it feels well deserved. Like, when I turned down that deal from The Rap Game, so many people was like, “You know, you making a mistake. You not gon’ get this opportunity again. Don’t get too big-headed.” And this is for those people, period. You gotta believe in yourself and you gotta just trust the process. Like, nobody gon’ go hard for you like yourself. So I already knew what I was about to do in this industry, and now, them things are tangible. sS now, you ain’t got no choice but to accept the fact that like “She a Queen of the South” for sure. Literally. I’m going down in history books.
There are huge celebrities rocking with that track like crazy. Could you talk to me about seeing someone like Rihanna, who’s a very elusive figure in the public eye, co-signing that track on Live?
I was actually on tour. I was on a tour of my own called The Big Latto Tour. This was pre-label, pre-deal. And it was just me and my team going on tour, promoting myself and spreading the word. A little small, independently put together, small budget tour. And I was on stage in Houston, I wanna say. Houston. And in the middle of performing, my manager come tap me on the shoulder and he like, “Rihanna just went live listening to your song.” And I was like, “What? Like, you can’t tell me nothing like that while I’m on stage. Like, I’m ’bout to drop the mic” type shit. So, soon as I got done performing, I pulled it up on my phone. As soon as I grab my phone, everybody was texting and calling me like “Oh my god, oh my god!” But, yeah, just to see that, that was crazy. It just feels surreal. Like Rihanna, RiRi, listening, to even just know the song, but to go live and singing the words– that was surreal.
With artists like Nicki and Rihanna, have either of them reached out to you or gave you some game of any sort?
I haven’t had the chance to talk to Rihanna yet. Yet, heavy on the “Yet”, ‘cause I’m big on manifesting. So, not yet, but Nicki, she — I’ve done, I’ll rap acapella to some of her beats, and she has reposted one of my videos before. And I just commented and I just let her know, you’re like a real inspiration to me. Like, I’m always giving Nicki her flowers good but in that comment section, I wrote like a good, short, sweet paragraph. Just letting her know how much I appreciated her for reposting my video and how she influenced to me. And she was just like “Thank you, mama!” and like, yeah, I ain’t get to have no one-on-one with either of them yet, but it’s coming.
So now I just wanna talk to you about the tape. You go from dropping “Bitch from Da Souf” to Queen of Da Souf, what’s that transformation like to you? Why is now the time to claim that title?
I feel like now I just have the accolades to back it up. It’s like literally, I made history. I’m the first solo female rapper from Atlanta to go gold. So it’s like now, I can say I’m the Queen of the South. Then it’s just like the older I get, just like solidifying yourself in the industry. I became aware that it’s like, you gotta have a lane in this because there’s so many new artists. Everyday, there’s new artists, so you gotta have a lane. You gotta find a lane where ain’t nobody in that lane and they can’t get in that lane. So it’s like, ain’t been no female rapper from Atlanta to take this shit all the way. So, soon as I realized it, I said, “Okay, boom. I’m the Queen of the South”. And now it’s just working in my favor because things like going gold or whatever, it’s undeniable now, I literally am the Queen of the South.
How did the pandemic shift your trajectory for the year and how did that help create this project?
I recorded the whole Queen of Da Souf project during the pandemic. Like, starting from the top of quarantine to now nearing the end, it’s out. But I recorded it during quarantine in L.A., in Miami and Atlanta. I live in Atlanta. Between them three cities, I finished the album, and it was like, so tough. And I had to go back to the drawing board so many time get creative with rollouts. And like, how am I gonna promote this project, because I feel like I got a solid piece of work, but I can’t physically go promote this project, then. Do the radio interviews, and meet-and-greets and shows like I would normally. So it was a little frustrating, but I feel like it was a blessing in disguise in the end because this project had me — I was able to like take a few steps back and only focus on the music and recording. Versus prior to the pandemic, it was like, I got other shows going on. I got interviews. I got photoshoots, video shoots. Like, I would be so distracted, versus like, in the quarantine, I would have nothing to do but record. So, I could just focus on creating the best content that I could. So, it kinda worked out. Well my team, shoutout to my team, ‘cause they go crazy, too. They got real creative and we just made it work.
What was it like getting 21 Savage on the project?
“Pull Up” with 21, it’s like, as soon as I recorded that song, I already knew I wanted him on it. The bounce of the song. It was just so 21 Savage. Like, the flow. I knew he was just going eat it up. So, I had been sitting on that song. I had reached out to him. I’m like “I really want you to get on this song” or whatever. And I told my label, “Man, we gotta hit this from every angle. I’mma try to hit him. I need management to hit his management. I need label to hit his label.” Like, we attacking this from all different angles because I was so adamant about him being on it. And the crazy thing is, it was — because he was working on his own stuff at the same time I was asking for the feature. It was the time where we was like “Um, Latto, I dunno if this is gonna be possible. You might wanna consider other options. Like who else could we reach out to?” And I was just like “Man.” I was so frustrated. He ended up sending me the song with his verse, like, a week at most, probably not even a full week before I had to turn in my project so it’s like perfect timing. The verse ended up being crazy, obviously, and it ended up being one of my favorite songs on the project.
The next feature I wanted to talk about was City Girls. What does that feature mean to you, like having them on this project?
I felt like I needed a female feature. Like, there’s so many females going crazy right now. I had to have a female feature. It wouldn’t even be supportive of the female rap wave if I didn’t have a female feature on the project, especially with a title like Queen of Da Souf. I had to have some queens on my project. So, “In N Out”, I recorded in L.A. and soon as I cut it, that’s another one of those situations where I was like, “Boom, I already know who I want on this”. It was just so girly, upbeat, it just spoke City Girls to me. Shoutout to Pee ‘cause he made that happen and they both super-cool. And we just shot the video the other day, too, so that’s gon’ be perfect. Icing on the cake.
You announced the gold record, and then the “WAP” video dropped, and that shit really broke the internet. What was it like working with Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion? Obviously, two women at the forefront of hip-hop right now. What was that experience, being on set with them and working with them on this video?
When my team got the call for the “WAP” video, I thought it was a prank call, no cap. I was like “Man, y’all gotta be playin’ with me”. But at the time, I didn’t even know Megan was on the song. They just reached out and were like, “Cardi wants Mulatto to be in her video. So I’m thinking I’m gonna do a cameo for Cardi.” But still super, super, stoked. But then I found out Megan was on the song. Then I found out about the other girls that was gon’ be having cameos too and the picture just got so much bigger. I was like “Oh shit, this about to break the internet,” which it did. “WAP” broke the internet, for sure. And it was perfect timing, because it just helped my rollout for my project unintentionally. It wasn’t our video, our song, so we have nothing to do with the timing they dropped. It literally just unfolded right as we needed it to.
“When my team got the call for the “WAP” video, I thought it was a prank call, no cap. I was like “Man, y’all gotta be playin’ with me”. But at the time, I didn’t even know Megan was on the song. They just reached out and were like, “Cardi wants Mulatto to be in her video. So I’m thinking I’m gonna do a cameo for Cardi.” But still super, super, stoked. But then I found out Megan was on the song. Then I found out about the other girls that was gon’ be having cameos too and the picture just got so much bigger. I was like “Oh shit, this about to break the internet,” which it did.”
What were those conversations with Cardi and Megan like? Did they have any words of wisdom for you as somebody who’s about to be that chick and really have that breakout moment.
Cardi — Shout out to Cardi, even aside from on set. On set, she was super inviting. Very welcoming, you could just feel her energy, she has a real warm spirit, like very inviting. She made us all feel real comfortable. But even after the video shoot, she’s DM’d me on multiple occasions, tellin’ me, like — from the shoes of somebody who’s already in it to kicking game to somebody who’s gonna be in those shoes. She’s just like, “Man, you gotta do this. Don’t worry about this. Don’t let this distract you.” And she just be giving me genuine advice and just encouraging words, which in Hip-Hop, period, in the game, period, most people don’t do that, but especially women. I think she’s so dope for that. I will always have the utmost respect for her for that. Literally, she posted my album when it dropped on her story. Tagged me in it. She just be going above and beyond. It all started with putting me in the “WAP” video. She ain’t had to do that, you know what I’m saying? ‘Cause she knew what that would do for my career and just give me that platform. She knew what that would do for me, so it was just a real selfless act. And like I said, even after that, she still get in touch, like DM’ing me, posting my album. Like, that’s a real bitch, period.
I know she’s has a spot in Atlanta, do you guys ever meet up for coffee?
I didn’t even know Cardi was in Atlanta. Shit, we need to meet up. We need to.
On, Cardi, Megan, yourself: how does it feel being a part of this uprising of women in rap right now?
I’ve been rapping since ten years old and I say this all the time — I waited patiently, but I wouldn’t have chosen any other time to have taken off than right now. Because literally, the wave is so strong right now. The movement is so strong. There are so many girls from different places. We all look different. Different skin tones. We’re breaking so many barriers that the industry put on female rappers. And we collabing and supporting each other and erasing that female rap beef and “it can only be one.” We just erasing all those stigmas, and we’re just working together and it’s a whole movement right now. It’s just so dope. I’m just grateful to be a part of it, to be honest.
You’ve worked with a lot of your heroes so far, I wanted to ask you what your dream collaboration is.
My dream collaboration of all time is Nicki Minaj. Just because what it would mean to my childhood and me as a rapper. She is one of the reasons why I rap, so I feel like that would just be icing on the cake, Latto and Nicki.
What’s your ten-year plan? You’re just getting started. You just dropped your debut tape. You’re already running shit, so what are the long-term goals from here?
My long-term goals is… I definitely wanna win a Grammy. Be nominated for a Grammy. Some, like, real iconic shit. To bring a Grammy back home, or just be like, “I’m the first person from Clayton County to have a Grammy,” that shit would be crazy. That would be a big flex. The Grammys, just more plaques, like all the accomplishments, just hella trophies. I want all the trophies, just to show. Like make everything worthwhile. Just make the ten-year-old me proud. Like, when I decided I wanted to be a rapper at ten years old, if a ten-year-old me could see a Grammy in my hand and hella plaques on the wall at the crib, like, she would be happy. So, just fulfilling my ten-year-old dreams.
What is it like every morning waking up as Mulatto?
This shit be so surreal. Like, I wake up every day just so grateful. Like, I always start my day off with a prayer. I’m so thankful. These is my dreams. These is not my parents’ dreams. It’s not an A&R taking some platform or some Instagram following and trying to turn it into a rapper. Like literally, these are my dreams, and I’m just living ’em. It be surreal. Like sometime I be like, “Damn, I’m really doing this.” And then, I’m so young on top of that. So it’s like, not only the fact that I’m doing it, but I’m going it so early in my career and early in life, period. So, it just, it’s a good feeling, man.
Do you have any last words to the fans?
The biggest thank you to my fans for just believing in me and supporting me throughout the way, because it’s been so many times where I wanted to give up. I been rapping since nine, ten, years old. So it’s like, it’s been so many times where I would see other people take off before me or surpass me. And I’m like, “Damn, why? How they get signed before I signed?” or just so many moments where I would get discouraged. But my fans stuck with me throughout the whole time and like I literally got fans from before The Rap Game. Before RCA. Like, I got fans that rolled with me throughout this whole journey, so I just got a biggest “Thank you” to my fans…and yeah, I just love my fans so much.