Seventeen-year-old Atlanta rapper Miss Mulatto caught the attention of legendary hip-hop producer and rapper, Jermaine Dupri’s attention on the Lifetime series, “The Rap Game”. For eight weeks, five child rappers competed against each other to win a recording contract with So So Def Recordings. Mulatto was crowned the winner because of her musical delivery, stage presence, and lyrical flow. JD recognized her passion for music and her driven personality throughout the show.
Once the show ended, Mulatto started launching a press tour and recording new material with Dupri. Mulatto is also increasing her fan base in Atlanta. Lifetime has renewed The Rap Game for a second season which makes its debut in summer 2016.
Singersoom.com spoke with both the Grammy award-winning producer and Miss Mulatto about the show, her new found fame, meeting expectations as a rapper, and upcoming projects.
Reception after “The Rap Game”: It’s been great. I’m just dealing with everything and how it went from 0 to 100. After the show, I’ve been doing interviews, shows, bookings across the country, jet-lag like crazy (laughing). But, it’s cool, I was prepared for it, so it’s been fun.
Discovering the Show: They called me after I completed a school tour. We were sitting in a Waffle House, and they called from a California number. I was like hmm, so my manager picked up the phone and it was Lifetime. But they didn’t have anything together as far as the show is concerned. We didn’t know it was a competition, so I guess I was one of the first picks for the show. We didn’t think it will fall through because we got the call last May. We started filming in October, so it was actually something that fell through.
Rapping as a Career: Oh no, I didn’t think I would be a rapper at first. Actually I started off drag racing; my family is really into drag racing. They pretty much like anything that moves (laughing). But I didn’t like it. In school, I was a dope writer, so writing eventually became writing lyrics.
Stage Name, “Miss Mulatto”: We were actually in the studio today, and I don’t know what Mulatto meant; I was just as clueless from everyone else in the world. My dad actually came up with Mulatto and the “Miss” wasn’t added until afterwards. So we started doing more research on the name. Mulatto is also a term in Social Studies I started studying it more and I like what it stands for. I used to be insecure about being light-skinned and I was bullied because I was light-skin. So I took something that was negative and it made it positive.
How Growing up in ATL Influenced Your Musical Style: ATL is the place to be as far as music. I’m not saying that because I live in Atlanta. When I travel, I’m like thank goodness I was born and raised in Atlanta. The scene is great out here and a lot of successful artists are from Atlanta.
First Reaction when JD Crowned You as the Winner: I wasn’t shocked, but it was like “wow, my hard work paid off.”
Challenges You’ve Faced on the Show: I’ve experienced everything else on the show except the battle rap. That was the most challenging part for me on the show.
Dealing with New Found Fame and Staying Grounded: I don’t know, I am just doing it. I’ve been doing this since I was ten years old, so I’m accustomed to the hustle. So I am just doing what I do.
I’m big on stay grounded, but I think when you’re famous, it changes the people around you. They expect you to change, so the people around you started changing as well. Even my friends from school say, “Ooh, you’re doing big things now,” and they stopped inviting me to certain things. They stopped inviting me to social events, parties and their excuse is “Oh, I thought you weren’t going. So I’m like oh, you want me to change, so it started happening already. I have my family which also helps; my dad is my manager, my mother handles my finances, and my sister is my personal assistant. I have that family aspect, so that keeps my grounded as well. I know my family has my back which is why I stay grounded.
Writing Your Own Raps: I want to clear that up! It’s not even about writing. There are artists who don’t write their own raps, but I think it’s important for the artist to be a part of the creative input on the record. If you’re not, how are you performing material that’s not true to you? When you have input or produced the whole project by yourself, you feel it more, and fans are feeling you too.
Remaining in Contact with the Other Performers on the Show: I started working with Niqo before the show. He had a song out called “A in this Here,” and I was the lead video girl. Niqo was 12, and I was 13, so it was cool seeing him again on the show. And we are still cool to this day.
Mulatto’s Father Fulfilling Management Duties on the Show: I think my father represented very well on the show. There has been a lot of opinions, but my dad is one of those people that say you either love it or hate it. He gives it to me straight, no sugar coating. He needs to get his own show, so we call it “No Filter.”
Pros and Cons of a Father/Daughter Business Relationship
Pros: I’m daddy’s girl, so I don’t have to worry about the protection. My dad is going to have my best interest at heart. I don’t have to worry about people trying to use me because my dad has my back. He has taught me so much about the industry. From him, I know more about the artist role, the producer, the engineer; he just wants to make sure I learn about everything so I can run my own business, be my own boss one day.
Cons: It’s weird. I have this song, “Crush,” and I perform the song in front of everyone, especially boys. But it’s weird because your dad is standing right there. So I would say the boy fan base. But he does a good job balancing the two; he knows it’s business first and daddy later. Later on, he’ll say, “I saw you looking at that dude” (laughs).
Things You Could’ve Done Differently: I wouldn’t change a thing. I believe everything happens for a reason, but I’ve learned a lot of key points from the show. So if I said “I wish I would’ve known this and that,” it would take away the fun and the learning process. It was a learning process for me, so I wouldn’t change anything. I appreciate all of the advice from everyone, and now it would be applied in my work.
Future Projects from Miss Mulatto: We released the song “No More Talking” on iTunes and fans went crazy. They love that song. I’m glad they like the record because it was in the mood situation. I was like no more talking; let’s put out the song especially after all of the controversy and different opinions. We are releasing the video to “No More Talking” real soon and we shot it at my old high school. All of my friends were in the video, so it was just dope. Me and JD just been making music in the studio; we have The Rap Game tour this summer, so we have a few projects in the works.
Separating Yourself from Other Child Rappers: I’m in the lane of my own. I don’t try to mimic other rappers. I don’t want people thinking I’m trying to be like Bow Wow or Kris Kross because I’m on So So Def Records. I look up to so many different artists, and they don’t have to be kids. But I’m just in my own lane. I’m just me at the end of the day, and that’s who I can be.
Musical Influences: I love Left-Eye! I love her for her originality, her flow, and everything was so different about Left-Eye. She set a trend that you can’t copy at all.
Words of Encouragement for Upcoming Child Rappers: I would say patience and persistence. This doesn’t happen overnight. I wanted this since I was ten years old and I’m 17 now. I was on The Rap Game when I was 16, so you have to work hard. I say patience again because it doesn’t happen like 1,2,3. Persistence is important also because you have to be dedicated. People believe being a rapper is an easy way out, but it’s actually harder, in my opinion. You put in so many years in the rap game, and you don’t know if you have a definite future in it. I mean, you go to school to be a doctor, and when I’m done with school, I’m going to be a doctor. But as far as success in the music industry, I haven’t reached success as of yet. I’m sipping on a little bit of it (laughing), but I haven’t had the full glass of success yet. I would say winning the show was a huge accomplishment, but there’s more to come. And then coming from Atlanta, it’s like who doesn’t want to work with JD? You understand So So Def’s importance in Atlanta. As the new face of So So Def, I know the legacy behind the label, so it’s a lot of weight on my shoulders. But I know I can handle it.
Creating The Rap Game: I did it for a bunch of reasons. One, it has never been done. Two, I’ve done this with other child rappers in the past, and it was successful.
Selecting Miss Mulatto as the Winner: The show was about which artist was the most prepared for anything. Usually, my process is more than eight weeks; eight weeks is pretty fast for me. Usually, I work with an artist for two years before they come out with a record. But for the show, it was about who was the most prepared and was ready to work. My mindset was we have to put out the record as soon as we pronounce the winner. So if you took that into consideration and paid attention to what’s going on, Mulatto won in that category.
Casting the Show: There wasn’t an audition for the first show. It was more about figuring out which kids should really be on the show.
Adding New Ideas for the Second Season: It’s hard to say, but I have a couple of ideas in mind for the second season. But I think the artists advance the show. Kids have a blueprint of what they should be doing and paying attention to from the show. From the first season, you’ll hope that you get a set of kids that are more advanced because they watched the first season. The kids from the season 2 will know what’s going on, and it’s no secret of who I am on the show. The kids from last season didn’t even know the premises of the show, so that form of knowledge is going to change the show for season 2 in a different way.
Miss Mulatto Meeting Expectations as a Rapper: I think Mulatto and her team know they have to keep working in order to continue. I think this platform I gave for the kids was a bridge to what they were already doing before the show. You have to keep doing what you were doing before this position, especially if you showed people you were doing certain things. They already know what they have to do; Mulatto is an image now. She is an image that people know, so she has to watch that more than anything. Believe it or not, she is leading a path for people who hope to be in her position one day. So Mulatto has to pay attention to her leadership, and guide people in the right direction.
Piece of Advice for Future Child Artists: In today’s world, you have to be talented. Don’t talk and don’t think it’s just going to happen. I mean, it can happen for some people, but that’s not always the case. True talent will be seen at some point. It may not happen when you want it to be seen, but it will be seen. It’s not a lot of people that are talented right now, but if you have talent, at some point, it will make it’s way to the top.