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Latto is already a Hip-Hop veteran at 24, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t willing to take advice. The award-winning rapper is heading into a new career chapter with her heart and ears open.

“The older I get, the more mature ear I have,” she told ESSENCE.

The Rap Game winner has gone from a talented and defiant teen to an experienced adult “more open to criticism.” She clarifies that she is only interested in “healthy criticism,” something hard to extract from the cloud of noise hurled at celebrities.

“Now everybody don’t be trying to give you healthy criticism,” she declares. “They definitely be hating, but I know how to distinguish.”

Latto Is Still Looking For More
INDIO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: Latto attends the 2023 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival | YouTube Shorts Content Studio at Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2023 in Indio, California. (Photo by Irvin Rivera/Getty Images for YouTube)

Latto cultivated a spirit of discernment in the public eye, dropping her previous controversial moniker and acknowledging her reasons for doing so publicly.

“I think it really started with my name change because I learned where being stubborn can get you and how misinterpreted you could be,” she says. She describes her journey to arriving at the decision to change her stage name in her song “The Biggest,” a vulnerable but feisty track featuring a young woman heading towards the best version of herself.

Even Hip-Hop legends can sense her growing self-assuredness.

Latto Is Still Looking For More
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 05: Latto attends the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

She recently worked with Rakim and Nas on a Sprite campaign dedicated to celebrating the 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop. Latto initially found it “nerve-wracking” to be tapped to remix classics with the OGs, but she rallied quickly.

“Rakim was super inviting and welcoming,” she says. When she asked the God MC for advice, she recalled him saying, “You Big Latto, just do you.” She tapped in with herself to craft bars for the occasion.

ESSENCE recently named her one of the women ushering the genre into the next fifty years. “That meant a lot to me,” she says. “I’ve been rapping since I was eight years old, you know? So to be included in something like that just shows my longevity and my respect as an artist.”

But rising to the top of the charts brings its own unique stressors. She turns to regular massages to decompress. “At the end of the day, I’m 24, I’m having fun, I’m just living, I’m living the life that I dreamed of, so I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself,” she says.

The expectations loom large, but she tries to see them as challenges and not distractions.

“I do like to keep that in mind because you gotta keep expanding and evolving as an artist.”

Latto Is Still Looking For More
NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – AUGUST 28: Latto attends the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on August 28, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Udo Salters/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Her resume is ever-expanding. She partnered with Apple Music to create 777 Radio. She studies interviews by Angela Yee and Angie Martinez to try and improve her interviewing skills and earnestly sought some of that “healthy advice” from fans about how to improve. She wasn’t snarky or defensive about the critiques. She admits that she was new and trying to grow.

Latto recently caught the acting bug as well. She expected to ease her way into acting, but when an opportunity that was too good to pass on popped up, she dove in. “I was somebody’s mama, and I don’t even got kids,” she said.

She did research to learn what she could about the role. Succeeding was important to her. “I didn’t want to go up there bombing.” She prepped with an acting coach virtually while she was on the road. “Zoom is my best friend,” she adds. “It’s probably the most used app on my phone next to social media.”

Latto warns an old friend that the streets are no longer safe for her in her flip of Kodak Black’s “Super Gremlin,” but in real life, she is over Twitter feuding and sneak dissing.

“I just be getting in the booth, and I just be talking. I might be talking ’bout a bitch from fifth grade who stole my damn candy. I’m from the city that pops shit,” says the proud Atlanta native. “We just pop shit – [it] don’t even be about nobody or like directed at nobody.”

Latto Is Still Looking For More
INDIO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 23: Latto performs onstage at the 2023 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 23, 2023 in Indio, California. (Photo by Presley Ann/Getty Images for Coachella)

Real friends are more fun than mythological opps, and the rapper freely praises her peers.

Latto spoke with pride about her Sprite campaign co-star, Glorilla. She was excited to do the gig together. “I’m from the South, so I’m rooting for every female coming up out the South. I think Glo is in her own lane. She’s killing shit.” She tapped Glorilla to hop on her track FTCU featuring the late Gangsta Boo. “I was sitting on it for like a year because I didn’t have anybody to put on it. But then, when I discovered Glo, I was like, oh nah, let me see if she likes this song because I want her.”

Known for rattling off lyrics brashly, Latto is looking into vocal lessons to experiment with switching up her sound on future projects. “I just want to show people that I can rap, I can sing, I can do pop, I can do every damn thing,” she said.

“I’m a Capricorn baby. It’s always another level to go up. I don’t ever just celebrate or get too comfortable where I’m at. I always think it’s more to do.”


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