Many fans know Mulatto as the self-proclaimed “Queen of the Souf,” but some may remember her more PG-debut on season one of The Rap Game.
Before rapping, Mulatto, born Alyssa Michelle Stephens, followed her family’s drag race tradition. But her destiny was to create infectious strip club bangers.
Although she turned down the deal with Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def, the Atlanta raptress spent the past few years building her online visibility with personal vlogs, freestyles, and original songs.
Her popularity grew and Mulatto independently scored features from Saweetie and Trina on the “B*tch From Da Souf” (Remix). That’s the moment she knew she had enough leverage to finally ink a major deal.
“I feel like it’s kinda timing. I feel like everybody takes me turning down the So So Def deal at the end of The Rap Game as disrespect. It’s not that at all. Timing-wise, it just wasn’t time,” Mulatto said during a virtual interview. “It’s not just So So Def. I’m signed to RCA now and if they would’ve approached me at the same time that So So Def did I probably would’ve turned it down too. I felt like it was a matter of me reaching my full potential as an independent artist before I jump into a major record deal. At that point you got leverage and can ask for whatever you want money-wise, term-wise, pretty much whatever you want when you’re going into a situation with leverage and I went in with heavy leverage.”
The 21-year-old is one of the most sought out female rappers of the year. She collaborated with Gucci Mane, 2 Chainz, YFN Lucci, and the list goes on.
Gucci has built a reputation for opening doors for rising artists, especially from Atlanta. But when he offered Mulatto a record deal she already inked a deal with RCA. “Gucci didn’t know I was already signed,” Latto confirmed during the virtual interview when asked about the accuracy of La Flare’s “Muwop” lyrics. “We didn’t just announce it without a plan. We signed in December then announced it in March. I was recording songs like “Muwop” in that three-month span and I was kinda quiet getting ready for that.”
J. White Did It sent the record to Guwop and the veteran rapper responded, “yeah Ima do it but I want to sign her.” Gucci had to settle for a feature but the two artists have built a good relationship.
This further proves Latto’s appeal to both female and male audiences.
When approaching collaborations with male rappers, Mulatto transforms into Big Latto and packs her verses with clever, raunchy, recitable lyrics that are sure to steal the show.
“It is different. On a song with a male I be trying to out rap they ass. I look at the male features as friendly competition. I be wanting them to say ‘Damn Latto ripped his ass. To me it’s a little more competitive when I have a male feature versus girls. It’s a sisterhood link up, it’s more about trying to make the best song,” she admitted. “With the male features I be like ‘you know I’m bout to tear that as* up right?”
But she’s having a blast collaborating with the other rising rap girls like her RCA labelmate Flo Milli and the City Girls. Hopefully, she’ll get the chance to showcase her lyrical prowess on a record with her idol, Nicki Minaj.
There’s way more variety in female rap than Hip Hop fans seen in the past decade and Mulatto is making sure that she is one of the leading ladies of the movement.
Stream the Queen of Da Souf deluxe version which is slated to be released on Friday, December 11th with five new tracks.
Check out the exclusive interview below with the Queen of Da Souf where she discusses voting for the first time, performing during the quarantine, upcoming business deals, and the possibility of changing her controversial stage name. (This interview was edited and condensed for clarity).
I was surprised to learn that you used to drag race before rapping. Can you describe what that was like?
All the men in my family drag race. It’s not Nascar. It’s a race down a drag strip. And there’s a time clock and when you pass a certain line, the clock tells you who got down the two-lane strip the fastest. I was 8 when I was doing this and I was still finding my interests while still rapping at the same time. By the age of 10, I stopped drag racing and went completely into rap.
What was your first time voter experience like for you during the 2020 Presidential election?
My birthday is in December so I was 17 during the last election. But this year was my first time … It was fun, it was new! I don’t come from a political background. I’m teaching myself as I get older and you just got to do your part to contribute to change. Instead of using the excuse I always use ‘Oh I don’t know nothing about politics,’ I’m educating myself and bringing change to break that generational curse.
Can your fans possibly expect a beauty or fashion collaboration in the future? For sure. I’ve got so much in the works. That was one of my goals when I went into this deal with RCA. I gave them my long-term and short-term goals and a lot of that was collaborations and working with different brands like makeup, hair, clothing and all of this stuff. There’s a lot of stuff in the works.
Last week I was watching your Instagram story and saw that it was a light show and the crowd was singing your lyrics word-for-word. First of all, how does that feel? Crazy! It’s been a long time coming. It’s a fulfilling feeling. At 8, 9, 10-years-old when I first started doing this it’s just like a dream. Sometimes you have to give yourself a pat on the back and regroup like ‘wow, I’m doing everything that I dreamed of.’ Stuff just start moving so fast, you don’t really take time to celebrate and just take it all in. So a lot of times I just have to sit there, before I get out the sprinter van, when we pull up to the show and my DJ is saying, ‘Y’all ready for Big Latto?’ and the crowd screams out. I just sit there with the teary-eye.
It was relieving to see that the first order of business the next day was to get a COVID test. Do you have any home remedies that you do to prevent you from catching the Rona? A lot of people disagree with me still performing. To each his own. I don’t fault anybody for disagreeing with that but I gotta do what I gotta do. This is my job. Other people gotta bag groceries, check-in people to the clinic, teach, or whatever. I still gotta do my job as well. I got a lot of people that I provide for that rely on me at a young age and I still have to do that. I got bills of my own, other people to take care of, I still have to work. I pray, wear my mask, take my vitamins, and I get plenty of COVID tests. I went to Ohio for Thanksgiving this year and I got a test on Monday and a test on Wednesday before I saw my family on Thursday. You just got to take precautions. I’m not going to let something change my life and put me under a rock. I pray and I feel like I’m protected.
The pandemic has affected everybody in different ways and many people said they learned a lot about themselves. What’s something you learned about yourself during the quarantine?
It’s a couple things I learned. One, I need to take more time for myself. Before quarantine hit I was doing shows back-to-back and I was on two different tours, and still trying to record in the process. I was overworking myself and not taking time for myself, not my career. I will overwork myself. I don’t know if that’s the Capricorn in me but once I hit one goal I be ready to hit another one.
Were you quarantined alone or did you have a bae?
I wish I had a quarantine bae … I just do my lil thing. I dibble and dabble. I’m single and dating and I’m not looking for a relationship or anything like that because I want to be established on my own before I attach myself to another n*gga. I don’t want nobody thinking a n*gga made me. I don’t want kids or marriage no time soon. My mother had me at 15-years-old and she teaches me and my sister all the time to live your life first. A lot of women in my family had kids young so at an early age I was taught I don’t want to do that. I want to travel, by my own house, and live my own life before I get consumed in a man and kids and all that. And there’s nothing wrong with that! It’s just my preference in life.
That’s like Nicki Minaj.
Exactly! Prime example. I love that she march to her own beat.
What were you doing at the moment she mentioned you on Twitter? Girl! I was driving and my assistant called me and she’s screaming and I was just catching keywords like Nicki Minaj and Twitter, so I slammed the brakes like let me pull over because I’m bout to crash. Kids don’t do this at home, but I tweeted the IG live party details while I was driving and ran upstairs and started playing Nicki Minaj. A lot of people don’t know what that meant to me. To express it in words, I can’t. You just have to watch the live and see how fulfilling it was for me,
Nicki is one of the reasons I rap. When she came out I cut my hair in a bang and everything about her I loved and was obsessed with it. She’s the whole reason I rap. I was just 10-years-old when she came out. She was the first introduction for my generation to a female rapper. I grew up hearing Foxy, Kim, Remy, Trina, but she was the first female rapper to touch my generation. So when she came out I just felt a whole bunch of feminism and just loved it.
It feels like the Internet is always at your neck, and I know your stage name is a problem for many because it’s a derogatory term. You’ve already said before that you’re taking ownership of the word and you don’t care who feels a way. But has it ever been a thought or a conversation in your team to consider a change?
Especially me being young, I would admit that I don’t articulate myself properly. I’m going to make more mistakes than I’ve already made. But anyone who has ever talked to me knows my true intentions and know that there is nothing racist or colorist about me.
I don’t think I publicly spoke on this yet, so I don’t want to say too much. But especially in times like this where it’s Black Lives Matter and police brutality, I don’t want to come off as someone who is bragging about coming from a biracial background or making it a personality trait. I’ve considered changing my name and educating myself more about it instead of being so standoffish when it comes to that subject. I’ve been listening more. Even when people tweet me and they’re really rude about it, I still listen because I can feel the frustration. People don’t realize I’m only 21. In summary, that is something I’ve been thinking about and I don’t want to say too much so yeah.
I think those are one of the things about me that’s a misconception. I don’t ever want to have any misconception to hold me back in my career so people think I’m this super conceited-don’t-want-to-claim-my Black side I think I’m better than anyone because I’m mixed. I never want it to come off as something that it’s not. So if that means changing my name so people can understand that’s not what I meant by it, so be it. I’m learning and listening to the people. The bigger platform you have, the more people are going to be vocal about the name. So I’m learning.
Fans have been vocal about your physical appearance and how much it changed and they want to know if you went under the knife.
They always ask me all types of ‘did you get this done?’ I will say this, I will never be the type of person who would be super inviting because I feel like I don’t owe anyone anything when it comes to my personal life. But no girl, it’s all-natural.