When we last checked in with the rapper formerly known as Mulatto, she was still defending that stage name. Now, exactly six months later to the day, the 22-year-old born Alyssa Michelle Stephens has a new moniker — and it’s just Latto.
So, why did she change her name? It’s all about her first stage name’s painful history and connotations: “Mulatto” is a slavery-era term for someone of mixed race, and many people find the word hurtful.
“Mulatto was a negative term that I was trying to make positive,” Latto told Billboard in a recent interview. “We’re gonna start positive, and I feel like that’s gonna bring that energy my way. I feel like, in a way, that could’ve been holding me back, and I don’t want to attach that to myself anymore.”
Why did Mulatto change her name?
The Atlanta-raised rapper announced her stage name change in her new single “The Biggest,” released on Friday, May 21, 2021. “Don’t want no sympathy, just know I changed / I’ll be damned if the name the reason I don’t make it,” she raps on the track. “It contradicted what I stand for / The backlash ain’t what I planned for.”
And in her Billboard interview, Latto said she’s officially leaving the old pseudonym behind. “I don’t want to go by Mulatto anymore, because this was a long process, and I want people to respect the process and the time and energy and tears and meetings it took for this name change,” she told the magazine.
Latto also detailed the ordeal behind the name change, saying, “You can have an idea, but when you got labels, management, PR, investors, social media, lawyers, and all this extra stuff involved, it’s not like an overnight process. There was definitely a lot of meetings and people getting cussed out. It’s definitely not an overnight process. Now, it’s a boulder off my shoulders.”
As Latto, though, the rapper is ushering in a new chapter, she said: “I don’t want any more of that negative energy. Latto is good fortune. … Latto is like ‘Lotto,’ but my little twist on it. … It’s good fortune — I got ‘777’ tatted on me. I live this.”
Latto said her old stage name was deeper than her mixed-race identity.
In a 2018 interview with VladTV, Latto acknowledged her previous stage name’s problematic nature. “It’s not even something that people would want to call themselves. … It definitely is a similar term to the N-word,” she said at the time. “It was like a racial slur to mixed people.”
But she was also interested in reappropriating the word, as she explained: “You know, for me, it’s deeper than just saying, ‘Oh, I’m mixed. That’s why my name is Mulatto.’ … It’s kind of like a double metaphor. Not literally ‘mulatto,’ meaning I’m mixed; ‘mulatto,’ meaning a term that was once a negative word that I’m using in a positive light now.”