Latto’s rise in the rap industry has been nothing short of a whirlwind. From seizing the top spot on the charts to bagging the coveted Song of the Summer award at the VMAs, the rapper’s journey is a testament to unwavering dedication and raw talent. Latto’s ascent parallels the resonance her music has with audiences and has solidified her position as a trailblazing force within the rap scene. In a conversation with Refinery29 Unbothered, Latto shares her views on promoting empowerment, the double standards women face in the rap industry, and her latest collaboration with HALLS.
At the core of Latto's music lie themes of empowerment, body positivity, and an unapologetic celebration of femininity. Her dedication to using her platform to empower women is deeply rooted in her formative experiences, particularly the strong sisterly bonds that resulted from growing up in a female-centric environment alongside her sister "I'm a girl's girl in real life,” says Latto. "I grew up with just me and my sister, no other siblings, so it's just kind of second nature for me to include things like that in my music."
This inherent inclination towards championing women's voices is seamlessly integrated into her music, collaborations, and visuals. As a female artist, Latto is acutely aware of the unique challenges that women face, both in the limelight and behind the scenes. "At this point, it's not even an opinion, it's facts," she asserts when asked about double standards in rap. She feels genuine gratitude for the opportunity to use her platform to shed light on these issues while remaining authentic to herself. In her view, women in the industry are collectively dismantling barriers and defying stereotypes, opening doors for future generations of female artists. “I think women in general, we're breaking down more and more boundaries every day, opening a new door for the next woman to come up behind us,” she says.
I think women are breaking down more and more boundaries every day, opening a new door for the next woman to come up behind us.
Her journey itself is a testament to breaking boundaries and achieving dreams. Looking back at her recent achievements, which include winning Best Female Hip Hop Artist at the 2023 BET Awards Latto's response is almost that of disbelief: "It's honestly surreal," she admits. “It feels good to get my flowers while I can still smell them, period.” She's been in the rap game since she was just eight, and her current success feels like the realization of a dream she's had her whole life.
As Latto's trajectory embodies the breaking of boundaries and the realization of dreams, her creative process also showcases the versatility of her artistry. There’s fluidity in her writing, evidenced by the way she switches between freestyling and meticulously crafting her own bars. "It just changes; sometimes I'll go in there and freestyle something. Sometimes I go in there and write," she explains. Lately, she's been leaning more towards writing, finding that it allows her to express her thoughts precisely and authentically.
Those exceptional writing skills made her the perfect choice for mentholated cough drop brand HALLS, who recruited the musician to craft fresh phrases for the 'pep talks' displayed on its cough drop wrappers. "I sat down and just wrote down a list of ideas," Latto describes her surprisingly simple creative process. "I just kept it very modern using some of the slang I use in my everyday life, or that we use right now in the world." Influenced by her own hit songs and her everyday expressions, the wrappers now feature inspiring phrases such as "keep your crown on." In writing these phrases, Latto's goal was to “channel what I want to see when I unwrap my HALLS cough drop to keep me going.”
Latto's path as an artist is a credit to both her resilience and her authenticity. Her success story serves as a powerful reminder of the boundless potential that emerges from tenacity, creativity, and an unwavering belief in oneself.