Every week we tell you about an album we think is worth spending time. This week’s album is Queen of Da Souf, the major debut from Atlanta rapper Big Latto.
When I first heard Alyssa Stephens say “I throw that ass back to see if he gon’ catch it,” I knew she was on some shit. A self-proclaimed “real-ass, rich-ass bitch from da souf,” weaving temptation with fury the way Atlantans do. It behooves me to recommend her music with more caution than average, like a reclamation trigger warning. It’s the same reason why we wouldn’t dare put her rap name in a header for this brief overview. For some — for some! — it’s not the easiest thing to give the homies the track ID for the Mulatto record you slapped on the aux. But chances are, that record did slap and Big Latto (her shorthand) did what she had to do. She rose from the ashes of Lifetime reality TV, went viral many times over, and no… she is not changing her name. It’s Big Latto season, powered by Waffle House and Hennessy.
Queen of Da Souf is Mulatto’s proper major debut, and another self-proclamation: she’s arrived, lineage on front street as she stands tall with legends and poses with many a 10-piece combo. When her bops drop, there’s ample opportunity for throwin’ it, quotin’ it, and being motivated. Her biraciality mostly stays in name alone, the subject grazed only once via “No Hook” as she describes being too black for the white folks. In a tight half-hour, there’s minimal time to untangle insecurities as Latto pushes her potential in her most polished work yet. She’s precise and engaging, never losing the pocket and doubling down on her demeanor. It’s this awareness that enables her to bring flair to the most exhausted subject matters; she’s a crowd-pleaser, but far from algorithmic. She’s got a song to cover every base and space required of an Atlanta rapper: the bedroom, the strip club, the whip, the workout.
When paired with others, Mulatto proves her range by syncing with her counterparts without missing a step. While remakes are all the rage, it takes a certain formidability to flip “Freaky Gurl” with Gucci Mane, and have him brag about trying to sign you. If Latto’s with 21, she’s more hard-edged and sinister; with the City Girls, she ratchets up and lets the freak loose. This chameleon quality extends to her beat selection as well: Latto’s sonic choices blend and shift with her attitude level, building the proper world to thrive in. For her first big moment, Queen of Da Souf gives several clues to the versatility Latto has, but hasn’t cashed in on yet. Outside of the collabs and repackaged singles, the deep cuts leave much to be desired in the variety department. She’s already proven how she can have the South (and beyond) on smash, but time will tell how her Queendom grows and fares in fickle pastures.
Michael Penn II (aka CRASHprez) is a rapper and a former VMP staff writer. He's known for his Twitter fingers.