It’s been nearly three years since Latto broke through with her anthem “Bitch from da Souf,” and a lot has changed since then. In March 2020, the Atlanta native signed a deal with RCA Records, before dropping her debut studio album Queen of da Souf, which peaked in the top 50 of the Billboard 200 and included two platinum-certified singles. She also changed her name from Mulatto to Latto, and grew a massive following.
Now, Latto is walking into the release week for her second studio album with a lot more experience and knowledge. “I’m really growing as a woman, and it just reflects in the music,” she says.
Latto’s forthcoming album, 777, will be the first full-length project she’s dropped under her new name, and with it, she says she’s “reintroducing” herself to the world and hoping to make a statement. While she opted for a pop-leaning sound with “Big Energy,” she says the album will showcase her versatility, with all different types of vibes.
“I wanted to solidify myself and where I fit in the industry,” she tells Complex. “This is just the first introduction. ‘Big Energy’ is the pop sound from this project. I got an R&B sound. I got the rap trap sound. I got some rhythmic stuff that I did with Pharrell, just different swaggy stuff.” The album also includes features from major collaborators like Lil Wayne, 21 Savage, Childish Gambino, and more.
Ahead of Latto’s album release, she revealed that an artist featured on her album made it difficult to clear the collaboration when she denied their advances. Her comments shed light on what women in the music industry are constantly faced with. “People have always told us, ‘It’s better not to speak on that,’ or we’re burning bridges or we’re problematic if we do,” she explains. “But it really shouldn’t be how the game is.” Latto did not explicitly name the artist, noting, “It is something that you just got to tread lightly on when you do speak on those subjects, because sometimes people get invested for the drama of the situation rather than the fact that female rappers are being silenced in the industry and bullied behind closed doors.”
Latto is confident about where she is at in her career and what fans will hear on her new album. She declares herself the “female face for Atlanta,” and suggests 777 will further stamp her name in the history books. Complex spoke with Latto about making the album, navigating the music industry as a woman, and more. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
It’s been two years since you released Queen of da Souf. How have you grown as an artist over that time?
I tried more things. I’m really growing as a woman, and it just reflects in the music. I have new experiences as a woman to talk about. And being an artist, I’m going to naturally talk about my experiences growing up and becoming a woman. So it shows my evolution in life through music.
Did you feel any pressure going into this music cycle?
Yes, for sure. I think after “Big Energy” and its success, I knew how many eyes I had on me—new eyes at that. A new audience tuned in, and I feel like this album is my chance to reel them in as fans.
“I’m a female face for Atlanta and that’s never been done before on a mainstream massive scale.”
What was your biggest goal going into this album cycle?
I really wanted to solidify my place in this industry. I wanted to get my bars off and let people know that I do songs like “Big Energy” and showcase my versatility, but let them know where the passion started in the first place. And that was rapping—just getting the bars off, no hook freestyles. So I’m definitely rapping my ass off and showcasing the versatility at the same time.
What separates you from other artists?
I’m a female face for Atlanta and that’s never been done before on a mainstream massive scale. That alone is my lane. And then, my Southern open flow with the bars, that separates me. And my authenticity. I don’t put too much thought into anything. I really just be myself.
What does the album title 777 personally mean to you?
Seven is God’s number, so it just started with that. From a younger age, seven has always been my favorite number. And then triple—it triumphs 666, or overcomes 666. It became a part of my brand when I changed my name to Latto in reference to the lottery and casino, hitting the jackpot is 777. But it already had a meaning to me. It just somehow aligned with my career.
What was the timeline like for this album? When did you begin working on it?
I did the first song probably back in 2020. I have songs dated as far back as 2020. Ever since I dropped Queen of Da Souf, I’ve been working on this next project. So it definitely took some time, but I’m a perfectionist.
What was the atmosphere like in the studio? What was your recording process like?
It was really just me trying different things to pull different sounds out of myself and learn more about my creativity and what I’m capable of. I tried a lot of different writing processes, as far as pen and pad or freestyling. I tried traveling and I recorded in different areas. Usually, I just record in Atlanta at home, but I was trying different cities and different environments, and I found that was influencing my sound, too. So it was just playing with the process.
You surprised fans with the pop-leaning single “Big Energy.” Can we expect more tracks like that on this album?
This is just the first introduction. I got a deluxe in talks. “Big Energy” is the pop sound from this project. I got an R&B sound. I got the rap trap sound. I got some rhythmic stuff that I did with Pharrell, just different swaggy stuff. “Sunshine” has a more artistic feel. So it’s really just a plethora of things.
What is your favorite song on the album?
My song is “Trust No Bitch.”
You have some impressive features on this album. How did your song “Sunshine” with Childish Gambino and Lil Wayne come about?
We didn’t record in the studio together, so we didn’t get to work hand in hand, but my team sent them the open verses. I was pretty much just shooting for the stars, like, “I hope they can do it. If not, no pressure. I understand.” But they both actually sent verses back, so that was super cool. A Childish Gambino verse is rare as hell anyway, so that was super dope within itself. And then Wayne is just a GOAT, so that’s super dope, too. To be stamped by them at this early stage in my career, it meant a lot.
“It’s a lot of stuff that we have to deal with to get to the same spot that a male rapper is at. We have to put in 10 times more work. So as a woman, it’s my responsibility to put girls on game.”
What else can we expect from “Sunshine”?
It’s very artistic. It’s a fresh sound, fresh topic. It feels good. I personally think this sound on “Sunshine” could be a movie soundtrack, or on a TV show. It just feels so good. I could see it being background music for so many different scenes, and I think it’s very commercial. Your grandma can listen to it or your ratchet cousin that stays in the hood.
It seems like you were intentional with the number of features on this project. Can you talk about your selection process?
Yeah, I definitely didn’t want to swamp it with features. I wanted to still be the focus, because it is me reintroducing myself to the world. This is my first project with my new name, so I definitely wanted to solidify myself and where I fit in the industry. But everybody loves features, and I’m actually fans of these people in real life. So I definitely wanted to incorporate the ones that I incorporated. There is one that didn’t get to make the project, so that’s why I’ve been having talks about the deluxe. But I don’t want to jump the gun. Let’s just ride the wave and see how this flows, and we’ll get there. I was very particular about the features and hopefully y’all can hear the ones that didn’t get to make the album sooner or later.
What are some of the challenges and inequalities that women rappers face that people might not even realize?
A lot of times we’re bullied behind closed doors by these corporations or male artists or male producers or billion-dollar businesses and labels going against you. They can call the shots on your creativity, which I think is very lame and unfair. But I think my little voice can make an impact and maybe encourage other people to speak on what they go through, too, because I’m not the only female that experiences these things, but we’re told to silence it.
Since you spoke up most recently, a lot of other women are coming forward with their stories. What’s been the overall reaction that you’ve received?
I think for the most part it’s positive. It is something that you just got to tread lightly on when you do speak on those subjects, because sometimes people get invested for the drama of the situation rather than the fact that female rappers are being silenced in the industry and bullied behind closed doors. I think people take it as a game and just want to be nosy when it’s actually real life. So you’ve got to tread lightly and know how far you want to go with it and where you want to go after you speak. A lot of people are going to get distracted with the drama versus the music. So I try not to go too in depth, but in depth far enough to give insight and share and teach people what is really going on.
“I’ve been rapping since I was 8 years old. Nothing about this happened overnight. I really grinded to get where I’m at right now.”
You received hate for performing on a smaller stage during your tour, but several male artists have performed on that exact stage. Why do you think you’re receiving hate for something that is very common?
It probably starts with the fact I’m a female for sure. Then I think I’m just on the cusp of my break, and it’s just difficult to watch if you’re not a fan. If you’re a hater and you’re watching me win and getting more and more accomplishments under my belt, it’s got to be frustrating to watch. So I think they’re trying everything to stop it. But what God has in store for you is going to happen regardless.
How do you deal with online hate?
I’m still learning how to. It’s hard, especially being young, because our generation grew up on social media. We don’t really see the wrong in clapping back. I’m still trying to learn my way. But I think it just comes to a point where you are like, “I can’t win.” It’s almost like throwing in the towel. Y’all be like, “Oh, you don’t have a song on the radio though.” Boom, get a song on the radio. Then it’s, “Oh, well, you’re only on the Billboard charts because of radio.” It’s always going to be a “but, but, but.” So at some point you just throw in the towel and be like, “You know what? If you with me, you with me. If you are not, fuck it.”
What are your goals for the rest of this year?
Continuing to grow and having fun while I’m doing everything. I don’t want to get too caught up in the logistics and the numbers and stuff. I just want to have fun. My passion is really in the music and the proof is in the pudding. I’ve been rapping since I was 8 years old. People can look up videos of me doing cyphers and freestyles and talent shows as early as 8 years old. I really fell in love with the music first, so I just want to have fun while I’m doing this, where I make the best music I can make and watch everything else unfold. I pray hard, too.
In addition to the album, what else are you working on?
I think I might do a deluxe or an extended version, because like I was saying earlier, there are some songs that I wanted to be on the album that couldn’t make it in time. And finishing up my tour.
Who are your favorite Atlanta rappers right now?
I definitely think you can’t talk about Atlanta right now without mentioning my name, which feels good, because it’s been so many male rappers in Atlanta, but it’s been no female representation. It feels good to be at the forefront of that right now. Omerettà, she’s another female from Atlanta. I really like her a lot. I’m going to stick with me and Omerettà right now. That’s what came to mind first, so that feels natural.
What do you think is most misunderstood about you?
Oh my God, where do I start? There’s so many misconceptions about me. I think the biggest misconception right now is that I’m getting my foot in the real industry and having my first big break right now with “Big Energy.” The biggest misconception right now is the whole industry plant thing, like, “She don’t deserve it.” I think people just got to do their research on me, baby. I’ve been rapping since I was 8 years old. Nothing about this happened overnight. I really grinded to get where I’m at right now, but a lot of new people are tuned in that clearly don’t know that.
What’s the most important thing people should know about you right now?
The most important thing people should know about me is that my heart is in it for the long run. You can’t get rid of me, bitch. I’m not going nowhere. I would just leave it at that, honestly.