It’s no secret that when it comes to their Best New Artist category, the Grammys tend to stretch the definition of “new.” This year’s no different, as they’ve nominated the 23-year-old Latto, a rapper who’s been on the scene since 2016. She’ll be up against Anitta, Omar Apollo, Domi & JD Beck, Muni Long, Samara Joy, Måneskin, Tobe Nwigwe, Molly Tuttle and Wet Leg for the honor.
It’s been almost four years since Latto’s breakout hit “Bitch from da Souf,” which is certified platinum, and over two years since she was included in XXL’s coveted Freshman Class. Even “Big Energy,” her most successful single to date, has been out since September 2021; “Big Energy (Live)” is also nominated in the Best Melodic Rap Performance category. Hell, she has already been nominated for a “Best New Artist” type of accolade in 2020 thanks to the BET Awards. Per usual, “music’s biggest night” is playing catch up.
To the Grammys’ credit, though, the past year has seen the young artist’s profile skyrocket. Following up “Big Energy” with the full-length 777, Latto has only grown in prominence, cementing herself as a creative force with staying power. Even BET, after recognizing Latto as a new artist two years prior, re-upped and crowned Latto as 2022’s Best New Artist at this year’s ceremony. She certainly deserves the recognition – the Grammys just went about it in a very Grammy-ish way.
Nonetheless, those on the Grammy voting committee are likely not alone in their recent discovery of Latto. As such, here are five things to know about the up-and-coming rap star. You can also check out the full list of nominations here.
1. Before her music career, she was a drag racer
In an XXL video interview, not only does Latto reveal she’s been rapping since the age of 10, but she drops the bomb that she was originally set to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a drag racer. Growing up in Atlanta, several of Latto’s family members were deep into the city’s drag racing communities. She recalls the events like they were block parties or family reunions, complete with familiar faces and grilled meals.
Of course, it wasn’t long before she decided she was more interested in music than cars, and just a few years later, she’d be taking her first steps to becoming known in the scene.