You may recognize Miss Mulatto from season one of Lifetime’s “The Rap Game.” Since winning the show, rap mogul Jermaine Dupri has taken Mulatto under his wing to birth the rise of the next big MC.
“Being able to work with him is a blessing. I still get kind of starstruck that I’m actually in the studio with him,” she says.
The 18-year-old is gearing up to release her new mixtape, Latto Let Em Know all while juggling life as a high school senior and business manager for her clothing boutique, Pittstop. Rolling out recently had a chance to speak with Mulatto about her business endeavors, being a voice for the youth, and her perspective on rap beefs in hip-hop.
Check out what she had to say below.
At what age did you develop an interest in the fashion industry?
When I was a little girl, I used to write in my diary about becoming a stylist or fashion designer of some sort. I wanted to incorporate those dreams I had into my career in music. I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur and own multiple businesses. I knew opening a clothing store would allow my fans and other artists to drop in and listen to my music.
Did you have any particular fashion influencers that you looked up to?
I wouldn’t say that I necessarily looked up to them. My dad is actually an entrepreneur, so it wasn’t specifically, fashion that I was focused on. As far as entrepreneurship goes, 50 Cent and my father both inspired me. My dad has been an entrepreneur since I was born.
Why did you choose the name Pittstop for your retail store?
That’s a family tradition because my family’s last name is Pitt. Everything that my dad has done has always been Pittstop enterprises or entertainment. I wanted to continue that legacy and call it Pittstop Clothing. The store is really for my fans who are young teenagers. That’s the target audience.
How involved are you with the buying process for the store’s merchandise?
Right now we have to work with my music schedule. When I’m out of town and I have shows in L.A., New York or places known for fashion, we always stop by the fashion district or wholesale vendors. That’s how we buy most of the clothes and then I also work with a designer name A. Rivera who’s based in Philly. It’s a couple of designers that have reached out to me for photo shoots and if I like their clothes then I’ll put them in the store.
How do you keep a work-life balance with having to manage a store, finish school and further your career as an artist?
I don’t really have a solid answer, to be honest. I’ve been doing this since I was 10-years-old, so it’s all I know. I don’t know how to stay still. Plus, my parents always had me doing something. I used to sell candy at school and drag race. I was never able to take naps after school. They always kept me busy.
How has your relationship with Jermaine Dupri grown since being on “The Rap Game”?
It’s awesome! Jermaine Dupri is such an inspiration. We definitely work together all the time and he’ll call me a tell me he needs me to jump on a record or pull up to the studio. He’s basically like a mentor. I’m not signed, though.
What is the most valuable piece of advice Jermaine has given you?
I say this all the time. On the show, we had a hit list every week and we would get ranked one through five. He always told us when we make number one, still work like you lost. I still apply that now. Even though I won, I know [there are] a lot of kids that wished they’d won or wish they could take my place.
Millennials have influenced previous generations. What has Jermaine learned from you?
I put J.D. on game all the time. As far as the trends go, I teach him what the kids are saying because he wouldn’t know stuff like that. For example, everybody says “datway.” I taught him that months ago and he was like, “What are you talking about?” I told him to watch; it’s going to be real big and now Migos says it in their songs.
You’ve garnered a lot of attention since winning “The Rap Game,” however, not all of it is positive. How do you handle the online bullying?
I’ve been doing it for so long. It was a shocker to most of the kids on the show, but for me, it’s nothing that someone could tell me or call me that I haven’t been called before. It’s easy for me to ignore and I really don’t have time to go through my comments. I look at Instagram as more of a business than a social site.
How do you plan to use your new celebrity platform to impact your peers?
I do between two to five pep rallies [per] week. Sometimes, I just go up to the school and talk to a group of girls. Teachers always reach out to artists and when we pop up they are always surprised when we come. A lot of these rappers don’t respond. The schools don’t usually have a budget to pay for them to come. I always find that so funny, because the kids drive everything as far as artistry goes in the music industry. They just need somebody their age to tell them whatever they want to do is possible. My parents aren’t in the industry. We did this by ourselves. I’m not related to anybody famous. They need that reassurance because they kind of lose sight.
What can fans expect from you sonically on your upcoming mixtape?
I’ve been working on this project since “The Rap Game” aired. This will be the first project I’ve dropped since I won. I’ve been really particular about what songs I want to put on there and what I want to talk about in my music. So many people are waiting for me to drop this so I want to make sure it’s perfect. I’m a perfectionist all the way. I’ve been ready, but I want it to be right. I want your little sister to be able to listen to [it], your mom, your brother and just everybody. You can find a good blend on the tape. It’s going to have features but I can’t say too much. It will be some OG’s on there and not your typical features. I’m definitely flexing on this mixtape.
With your fan base being so young, do you feel pressured to censor your music?
I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility because at the end of the day I’m 18-years-old and have no kids. I am definitely aware of the fact that my fans are younger. A lot of artists when they get my age start cursing because they think it’s cool. I’m not in a rush to use profanity. I don’t want to put out music that the kid’s parents wouldn’t want them to be listening to.
What’s your perspective as a female rapper on the Nicki Minaj-Remy Ma beef?
Honestly, I heard Nicki’s track with Gucci Mane first, which initiated Remy’s full-blown diss. I already knew Remy was going to come at her, but I was hoping Nicki was going to be prepared for retaliation. I’m not biased when a diss drops because I’ve dropped my own before. People always forget that the other person can always come back. It might be too late for Nicki to come back now.