Women have dominated the rap game this year. We've reached a point where we're not solely speaking about Nicki Minaj and Cardi B. Of course, those two continue to command conversations around the world, but there is an influx of talented women that have taken over in 2020, including Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, Doja Cat, Young M.A, and, our interviewee of the day, Mulatto.
Her early days in the spotlight came via The Rap Game, a competitive music reality show where she performed as Miss Mulatto. At this point in her career, she's so far removed from her days as a television star, morphing into a pop culture phenomenon, a fashion icon, and a highly-respected rapper. "Y'all new to this, I'm the young OG," she raps on "He Say She Say", reflecting on her years spent on the come up.
Operating out of Streamcut and RCA Records, Mulatto has had herself one hell of a year. She has emerged as one of the premier talents in Atlanta rap, becoming the first solo woman in rap to get a gold plaque out of the city. She's quick to flex that stat too, reminding us about it a couple of times during our phone conversation.
Fresh off the release of her extended version of Queen Of Da Souf, her brash-talking braggadocious debut studio album, Mulatto came through for the fourth day of HNHH's 12 Days of Christmasinterview series, blessing us with details about her possible name change, her collaborations with legends like Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz, the deluxe trend in hip-hop, career setbacks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and much more.
If you missed it, yesterday we spoke with Jake Paul for Day 3.
This interview has been slightly edited for clarity.
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Day Four: A Conversation With Mulatto
HNHH: What’s up, Big Latto?
Mulatto: Hey, what's happening?
Not much. It's nice to talk to you. It's a huge week for you. You just dropped the brand new extended version of Queen Of Da Souf. Congrats!
You opted to make this the extended version instead of the deluxe. What was the reason behind that?
I don’t know, I feel like 'deluxe' just has a lot of weight on it. It's a lot of pressure. So it's kind of just-- it's an extended version. It’s not a whole new chapter. It's just extending off of the Queen Of Da Souf aesthetic that I already had started this year.
I feel you on that. We've seen a lot of deluxe editions this year too, especially in hip hop. Are you a fan of that trend personally?
I am. I feel like sometimes when you put out a project you-- well, me, I know. A lot of artists don't stop recording. You know what I'm saying? So you might cut a song a week after you drop and you're like, dang, that would have been perfect for the project. So it gives you a chance to still work off of, and add to a project.
In addition to all the incredible artists that you work with the first time around, you added Lil Baby to the extended version. What was it like working with him?
Yes! He’s so cool. I feel like he’s the frontrunner for the males of Atlanta, and I feel like I’m the frontrunner for the females. Like Atlanta, male rap and female rap, I think that collab was needed for Atlanta culture. But off set and stuff, even in the studio, he's real cool and humble, real humble dude.
"I feel like [Lil Baby] is the frontrunner for the males of Atlanta, and I feel like I’m the frontrunner for the females. Like Atlanta, male rap and female rap, I think that collab ["Sex Lies"] was needed for Atlanta culture."
So you guys were in the studio working on that?
Yeah, yeah. I pulled up on him in Miami, I think? Yeah, I was in Miami, and I pulled up on him with this song. And he cut his verse. I had the song already.
What was the vibe like in the studio? I know he mostly freestyles his stuff. What’s your process? Are you more of a freestyler or a writer?
Okay, so how I got into rap was writing. In school and stuff, I was real big into poetry and essays, like, I never had a problem when a teacher was like, “Look, we gotta do a 10-page essay.” I’m like, “Say less.” Everybody be complaining, but I love to write. So originally when I started rapping, I was a writer, never freestyling or nothing. Now, I be freestyling more than I be writing. So, I don’t know -- I feel like it just comes to you more -- just to the top of your head and it just be authentic and you just flow when you do that freestyle stuff. I do both, but I been freestyling more lately. But Baby in the studio? He crazy. He fast with it, like he so fast.
I’ve spoken to 42 Dugg a few times this year, and he’s always complimenting Baby on his studio work ethic. So I can only imagine.
You guys launched the video for "Sex Lies" too. What was that like?
Crazy. I was so excited to have Jayda [Cheaves] in it. I had requested for her to be in it. DC YoungFly is a part of it too. Baby so cool. He was like, “Let’s stand back to back. Like you stay in the middle.” He real hands-on with everything. He real cool.
It's somewhat of a different sort of vibe than the rest of the album. It’s not exactly an R&B record, I would say. It’s kinda-- definitely a little bit softer than the other tracks. Why did you choose to go in that direction for this one?
Yeah. I’m getting my foot through the door, so I don’t never wanna limit myself. I always wanna tease new sounds, and I’m a young artist, too. So, I don’t ever wanna put myself in a box. I always wanna tease new sounds, new flows, new melodies. I just wanna be as creative as I can be, and that sound is endless.
Always evolving. I love that.
Yeah, yeah. As a person, because I'm only 21, so as a person I'm evolving. So as an artist, I'ma evolve, too.
Are we going to hear a little bit more of that genre fusion in the future?
Oh, for sure. I'm just getting started so I'm learning more about all the different plug-ins and working with different people-- producers who might not necessarily do rap beats. They might just do slower tempo beats or whatever. So for sure, definitely you got more of that coming.
I'm curious because you said you're looking into plug-ins and all that. Are you getting involved in the production and engineering side of things too, now?
Yeah, I feel like as an artist, to be the best artist you can be, you have to know a little bit about everybody's role in your career. So I pay attention to the producers, to the writers, to the managers, to the engineers, everybody. I need to know a little bit about everybody's job.
Absolutely. Shout-out to the entire team. Women have absolutely dominated the rap game this year. As you said, you took over Atlanta. From Megan Three Stallion, Cardi B, you, Flo Milli, City Girls, Rico Nasty, a bunch of other talented women. How do you feel being part of such an important shift in hip hop?
Man, I've been rapping since like 8 or 9, 10 years old, since a kid for real. So I always seen a lot of people make it before me and I was questioning myself a lot, but it's just timing and God's plan ‘cause I always say I wouldn't have chose no other time to be a part of a movement than this movement because I feel like it's gonna go down in history. It’s so many females that's popping right now simultaneously, and we all different shades, different sounds, from different places, like we all got our own aesthetic and style. So I think there's some there's some legendary sh*t going on. And I'm just happy to be here.
Most definitely. It's special to watch. It feels like people finally aren't really pitting women in rap against each other anymore. That was a thing for so long, you know, Nicki versus Cardi, that type of thing.
Do you think that women will continue to dominate next year too?
Oh, yeah, I think 2020 was the year of the female, and it's just gonna go crazy from here. I'm excited as a person to be part of it, and as a viewer too. Just to see like, “Okay, so who's gonna be the next female?” Because there's somebody new every day, going crazy. I'm a fan of everybody in real life. So I'm excited to see it unfold. I feel like this just the beginning.
Who you got on your radar right now?
Flo Milli, LightSkinKeisha, Chinese Kitty, DreamDoll, Dreezy, Young M.A, like, it's a lot of females going crazy right now. It’s a lot. I can't think off the top of my head. It’s a hard girl from Ohio, Ty Bri. She going crazy, too. Yeah, it's a lot. It's a lot.
As you know, music, and especially hip hop, is ever-changing. What do you think the next wave or trend is going to be?
That’s a good question. Oh, it really ain't no telling. I'm a fan of this generation, my generation ‘cause we just--- it ain't no rules. It ain’t no boundaries with us, like, we make anything cool. So it really ain't no telling. We real trendsetters as a whole generation.
Hip hop has always dictated the culture and trends as a whole.
Yes. For sure.
Who would you say are like the major trendsetters right now-- the people that we're gonna look at in five years and be like, yeah, he or she really did that sh*t?
On some longevity sh*t, I’d say [Lil] Baby for sure. He's an artist that's not just here today and gone tomorrow, 15 minutes of fame. He’s here to stay for sure. Baby... myself, sh*t. I know I’m here to stay. A lot of it don't even be the talent or the music. It’s the work ethic. If you gonna be here to stay, and I'm saying you're gonna be here for a long time, it really be the work ethic. Who else? I’ll say Baby and me. I'm gonna say one female and one male. Me and Baby.
You know what I love about you Latto? I can tell that you're really tapped into the business side of music. Your marketing tactics, your work ethic, all of it is on point. With the extended version of the album, it feels like you're sort of closing this chapter and opening a new one. Are you already working on the next project?
Already. Already. When I tell you I got so many songs that didn't make this project-- not because they not hard, but because it was like, man, this got to be on a project of its own. This ain't no extended nothing, deluxe nothing. This gotta be a project of its own. So I got songs and even features, like, more big features in the vault too, ready to roll out. I'm a Capricorn. So that business mind that you're talking about, that's in me. I'm always thinking ahead. I'm already-- we just dropped the extended version and I'm working on the next for next year. 2021.
"When I tell you I got so many songs that didn't make this project-- not because they not hard, but because it was like, man, this got to be on a project of its own. This ain't no extended nothing, deluxe nothing. This gotta be a project of its own. So I got songs and even features, like, more big features in the vault too, ready to roll out."
That's crazy. Can you tell us a little bit about the kind of stuff that you're working on and who you've been working with?
It's gonna be some different sounds, some melodic stuff like “Sex Lies” ‘cause I got more of that coming. Like that melodic, more of a radio crossover type of sound, just a bigger sound. I think I pretty much proved that I could rap my ass off at this point. So just making bigger music. I can't say any features yet, but they're big. It’s Big Latto, ain't gonna be no little sh*t going on.
I love that. Since the last time we spoke to you, you performed at the BET Hip Hop Awards with Gucci Mane at Magic City. Can you tell us what that experience was like?
Man, Gucci is so damn cool, bruh. It’s one thing for somebody to be your favorite rapper and an icon to you, so it just hit even harder. His story and his come up is real inspiration to people, like young people that are coming out and learning that they want to rap like me. So you look up to this person, then you meet them, and then they're just everything that you expected them to be and more. The fact that I be FaceTiming my favorite rapper. That sh*t's crazy. It was crazy just to be kicking it with him. And then he real humble, too. He just a real person, and I’m a big fan of Gucci. But the performance as a whole, it just hit hard because it’s like, Gucci is legendary Atlanta. I’m upcoming, the new face of Atlanta. Then we at Magic City. Then it’s for the BET Awards. It's just like a whole lot of black excellence for real, that sh*t is legendary.
Gucci is a whole ass legend. You also worked with 2 Chainz on "Quarantine Thick", he's a legend himself.
No cap. The big difference between Gucci and 2 Chainz is-- Gucci from Atlanta, but we from different sides of Atlanta. 2 Chainz is from the south side for real, and I'm from the south side. So that collaboration was something that was on my bucket list. I've been wanting to work with Chainz. And doing that was crazy. He had reached out to me type sh*t, and I was like, “What? You lyin’.” When my manager told me, I’m like, “You lyin'. He don't want me on no song.” Nah. He wanted me on the song. I pulled up on him. He got a studio. He was just really cool. He asked me to play some stuff before Queen Of Da Souf came out. So he was asking me to play some of the unreleased music, and he was like, “Shawty, you hard.” He was just telling me, you know, he could have got any female on the song that would have drove the numbers, like somebody that's already more established in the industry than I am. But he's so real, he was like, you know, “I just wanted to keep it at home though.”
What does it feel like when people like that are reaching out to you? It must feel like you made it.
For real, ‘cause it's like, I've been rapping since a kid. I just be living and doing all this stuff that the kid version of me dreamed of. You could never tell me 2 Chainz would be reaching out to me, or that I'd have a song with Gucci, or Nicki Minaj will be tweeting about me. Stuff like that, I for real be appreciative of this stuff ‘cause I never wanted to do nothing else but rap.
That’s amazing, Latto. This year has been crazy, we got a whole pandemic going on. How are you feeling at this stage in the pandemic?
I ain't gonna lie. I live in Atlanta, and Atlanta been opening up, so it don't really feel too much like a pandemic anymore. But like, on a more global scale, when I travel or you tap in on social media, you see how other people are living or you just hear other people's stories about losing their job or losing loved ones that were affected by COVID. It's two different worlds for me, but you just got to be aware and just educate yourself. But sometimes it be feeling like, it was a crazy successful year, that's my 2020. But other people, it was their worst year. So sometimes it be feeling bittersweet or almost selfish to celebrate those things. But, you know, you gotta just find a happy medium.
"Sometimes it be feeling like, it was a crazy successful year, that's my 2020. But other people, it was their worst year. So sometimes it be feeling bittersweet or almost selfish to celebrate those things."
As you said, Atlanta is pretty wide open right now. I've been seeing all the strip clubs and parties going on. Personally, are you still being cautious about the virus, or is it more of an afterthought?
I know some people be like, “I don't believe in a virus.” It’s definitely a real thing. I know people who've lost close loved ones, like close, close, close family members, immediate family because of it. But you know, I pray and I wear my mask. I get IVs. I take my vitamins, you know? There is only so much you can do.
You haven't been able to do many shows or go on tour, as you said. For someone that had such a marquee year in their career, how did that affect you?
Oh, my gosh, it did affect me. Let's be clear. It definitely affected me and my whole rollout plan. So, I had signed on the low to RCA in December of last year. And we used January, February, and the beginning of March to come up with this extensive rollout plan, which just hit the ground running for 2020. Then boom. The pandemic hit for real in April. The whole world on lockdown. So it just shifted everything, all the plans we had, but shout out to my team because they got creative. I feel like 2020 was definitely my year still despite everything that happened. So I think you've got to be flexible. You gotta be flexible with anything that’s thrown at you. We got creative and kept the plan going.
I feel you on that, and I think that you and your team had one of the most creative rollouts of the year.
Thank you. Thank you.
Thinking back to April, what was your initial reaction like when things shut down?
I ain't gonna lie, I was like slick, depressed. I'm like, bruh. This my first major record deal, first record deal, period. So I was so excited to have a super successful year. I was just like, well shoot. Sh*t happens, basically. And I just had to get creative and just get on the phone with all these departments and just come up with this new plan. For instance, when they told me that I had XXL Freshman. I'm like, "oh, big!" but then, on the other hand, it's like well, no, you don't even know how it's gonna go. And if we're gonna be able to do the cypher, like, damn, this sh*t so bittersweet, but everything worked out.
You definitely made the most of that situation. You had a pretty viral moment in that with Fivio Foreign in that cypher too.
Yeah. Crazy. Everybody was cool as hell. It was fun. It was so fun.
That's the whole point of a cypher. You just bounce off each other.
Exactly like that was real energy. That was just us vibing.
In quarantine, obviously, you've been recording music. Have you picked up any new hobbies?
When we was on, like, lockdown-lockdown-- Atlanta is opening up now-- but when we was on lockdown-lockdown, I was in the house cooking. It's on my Instagram. That's probably a hobby I picked up, for sure. I was so busy, like, I kinda unlearned how to cook, but I just learned it again during the quarantine.
What’s Big Latto’s specialty meal?
So if I got a dude coming over and I’m trying to impress him, I’ma pull out some salmon, crab legs, mashed potatoes-- not the boxed kind, the real kind. Asparagus with a little parsley on top to make it pretty.
What are y’all drinking on?
Well, I only drink water but hold on, if I'm trying to impress my dude, I'll probably pull out some wine.
That sounds like a delicious meal. Recently, you danced around the idea of a possible name change. Is that still in the cards?
Yeah, for sure. The older I get, you know, just the state of the world right now with Donald Trump being the President-- well not for long, but him being the President-- police brutality, just reaching a point where the world is fed up. I was out on the frontline marching for victims of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. To me, you get to a point where that is not worth it anymore. I don't know. Your intention is kind of being misinterpreted. So it's like you've got to self reflect and go back to the drawing board. I don't know my final decision yet, but I'm definitely at the drawing board right now for sure.
"The older I get, you know, just the state of the world right now with Donald Trump being the President-- well not for long, but him being the President-- police brutality, just reaching a point where the world is fed up. I was out on the frontline marching for victims of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. To me, you get to a point where [the name] is not worth it anymore. I don't know. Your intention is kind of being misinterpreted. So it's like you've got to self reflect and go back to the drawing board. I don't know my final decision yet, but I'm definitely at the drawing board right now for sure."
I feel like it must be hard for an artist of your magnitude to consider something this big because, at this point, people know you as Mulatto.
For sure. I think that's what people-- like I understand the frustration and I'm listening as an artist, as a creative, but not even just that. As a woman, as someone who lives in these communities that are affected by matters like that or problems that my daddy and my uncles experienced firsthand. I got real stories that some people probably don't even know about or can't even relate to type sh*t. As an artist that’s this established so far-- and I've been doing this for so long-- they don't know how big of a step it is to even be considering it. That's me really being like, “F*** all this money that's invested on my end, my label’s end, I’m about to switch this whole sh*t up." That's like, that's a big step. I don’t need no cookies. But it is a big step for sure.
We've seen it a few times in hip hop. Diddy changed his name to Brother Love for a minute. Snoop Dogg became Snoop Lion. But it always seems to be temporary. We know Diddy as Diddy. We know Snoop Dogg as Snoop Dogg. What do you think is gonna end up being your story? Are you always gonna be known as Mulatto, despite the possible name change?
It will always resort back to Mulatto because that's just where it all started. But going back to just being more aware and educated on the subject is like “Yeah, you can resort back to that.” I'll never want to erase my come up, but you got to also move forward. So I think, yeah, people will always know me as Mulatto, but like, the more aware and mature me will probably have a different name.
Respect. What do you do to tune out all the criticism about your name on social media?
I'm still learning, to be honest. My age isn't an excuse, but the average 21-year-old, we still invested in comments and blogs and all that. So I'd be lying if I say, “Man, I don't give a f*** about none of that.” It does get to me sometimes. I'll just turn my phone off sometimes or go somewhere that makes me happy, like, I'll go kick it with my friends and go to my mama's house. You can’t beat the internet. The internet gone win every time. So you just gotta put yourself in a happy place that kind of distracts you, and I'm still learning how to not to respond to everything, not only because of my age but, on top of that, I'm a new artist dealing with all this new fame and new interest from haters and everything. Everything's new.
Some artists live by the motto that any publicity is good publicity. What do you think about that?
I don't think any publicity is good publicity. Any publicity is talk surrounding your name, for sure, but I wouldn't label it as good. Some people was trying to convince me that, but I don't believe that it's all necessarily good, but it is talk around your name. It ain't bad, but it ain't good.
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Back to the music, it feels like you're always one step ahead of everybody else. For Queen Of Da Souf, you recreated Gucci Mane's covers for the “Muwop” single. You had the Cole Bennett-directed "On God" video. Even the way you built the tracklist where you blanked out the names of the featured artists. I hadn't seen too many other artists do that before you. Your vision to me was incredibly clear. How much planning went into that? And were you the brains behind everything?
Oh, yeah. I always put in my two cents on everything. And it's not even two cents a lot of time, it be solely me. All that took real timing, thought, and sleepless nights. Like, “Hey, I need to come up with something. I don't want to just post the tracklist. I need to come up with a way to like, come up with a way to make it unfold." It'd be just another chapter of the story. It'd be like ideas I have in the shower, just like random downtime. I'll be getting my hair done and think of something. I just put it in my notes real quick.
I've seen a few other artists start to blank out their features after Queen Of Da Souf. And I'm just like, damn, Big Latto really started something.
You know, humbly, humbly setting trends.
Reflecting on 2020, what was the best thing that happened to you this year?
2020 was so successful for me, like, it was a blessing in disguise, but the best thing has to be my plaque. Man, that was crazy. I literally made history with the “B*tch From Da Souf” song. I'm the first solo female rapper from Atlanta to be certified. So that's crazy. Then how my team presented it to me. For Queen Of Da Souf, we had a more public celebration party, and then I had a more private one. It was like a dinner, whatever, so it's my close friends and family in the room. I appreciate them so much for that, like, how they presented it to me. It's a video on my Instagram, actually. When they gave it to me, I was crying like I was too lit. That was big for me. So I would say probably my plaque, getting my plaque.
What was the worst part of the year for you?
The worst part of 2020… I don’t know. 2020 had some low ends for the world as a whole but personally, for me…
Honestly, it's a blessing that you're having a hard time thinking of it.
Yes, that's why I'm saying. 2020 was so good for me. I feel like the closest thing to the worst was when I got in a dark cloud. I had to just get off Instagram for a second because of all videos that was going viral showing police brutality and stuff. I had gotten in this state of mind where I couldn't even come up with music for a second. I was out there on the front line marching. I was just letting it consume me, and I got in this dark cloud. So that would probably be the most negative or the closest thing to worst.
What's in the plans for 2021?
In 2021, got another project coming, for sure. I’m already working on another project. I know I'm gonna be super busy. I still got time to do more than one project, more than two projects. Bigger features. Bigger production. Bigger visuals. But my name as it is now, I feel like, a lot of times, I'm misinterpreted as a person. So I want to do something on a more personal level to connect with my fans and people who might not necessarily be fans but just heard of me, and they don't vibe with me because of the name or something on the internet. Maybe they seen a rumor or something. So I feel like I want to do something on a personal level. Then as a woman, as a person outside of the music, I want to make some business investments, get into new business ventures outside of rap. Get started on that. Yeah, 2021. I just want to live a little.
Big Latto the billionaire coming up.
Okay, that's gonna be the next go. Okay.
Are you doing anything for New Years?
I am. I’m always with my family. I only like to celebrate New Year's with close, close family, so like my mom, my dad, my sister, my assistant, my DJ, my manager. That’s usually what it be every New Year.
Do you have any closing words for the readers?
Man, Queen of Da Souf (Extended Version) out now. “Sex Lies” official video out now, starring Jayda and DC YoungFly. Thanks to everybody that was a part of this project, my team, RCA, the producers, my engineer Joey, my other engineer Kelly. Just thank y’all. 2021 gone be even crazier.
It's beautiful how you've blossomed as an artist, Mulatto, thank you so much for taking the time.
Thank you so much. Be safe.