Most Likely to: Takeover the planet, then vacation
Favorite Quote: “My job is to somehow make them curious enough, or persuade them, by hook or crook, to get them more aware of themselves and where they came from and what they are into and what is already there, and just bring it out.” – Nina Simone
If you were a teenager of color, who thought they were grown in the early-mid 2000s, you’ve been to Empire Skating Rink for Teen Nite. Every Friday night, teenagers from all over the borough and beyond would converge on Crown Heights where, the rink was transformed into a dance club. The Rink was closed in 2007, but when it was open it was everything.
Latasha’s Teen Nite at Empire reminded me of a time that’s gone but will never be forgotten—that anxiety that came with picking the right outfit, making sure everything matched, so no-one would cut your ass; that excitement of pulling up and seeing all these beautiful black and brown faces you’d never seen before; that unexplainable satisfaction of catching your first dub; those disrespectful dudes who’d grab girls by the arm, calling the girls “Ma” when they wanted to dance, but calling the same girl “bitch” when they were rebuffed; the inevitable brawls that began soon when the night ended.
To reveal some of Brooklyn’s best kept secrets without violating the trust of the people is a testament of Latasha’s ability and skill as a hip-hop artist. If you really want to know what Brooklyn sounds like, listen to Latasha.
What is your earliest memory associated with what you do now?
My earliest memory associated with my creative nature as an artist is acting like I was in TLC with my cousin Sherilka. We would get dressed up in my momma’s dancehall queen clothes, walk to mom’s vanity mirror and act like we were rocking in front of a million people in Madison Square Garden. I was always Left Eye.
When did your occupation become real to you?
My career became real to me when I opened for Q-Tip and Kanye West at Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival. I also ended up sharing that stage with young Kendrick Lamar. At that moment, I knew this is what I wanted my life to be like. The mic, the stage, the voice to the world, kept my spirit alive.
How does Brooklyn/your neighborhood particularly inform your work?
All of my albums this year, “BLAK” (which means LA in BK) and “Teen Nite at Empire” based on Empire Skating Rink (closed down by gentrification), are completely immersed with my memory and my present experience in Brooklyn. The objective of the works has been to leave an artifact of what was before it all becomes condos and Starbucks. (no beef)
What do you feel is most challenging about where you are now?
The most challenging thing is the abrupt changes happening in my community and the lack of respect for what these neighborhoods are by new comers. My family has always sat on the stoop of our buildings in the summer. In the last few years, gentrifiers have called the cops on my family a few times. I don’t have an issue with people moving here, I mostly have an issue with people not caring about the culture of our neighborhoods and misplacing it. As for my art, combatting the patriarchal systems of oppressions while trying keep a good soul enacted.
What’s most rewarding?
For Brooklyn, The most rewarding is knowing that anytime I tour out the state, people have so much love and pride from Brooklyn. I also find that people look up to the culture and still love Biggie. For the music, the most rewarding is resonating with peoples in all dimensions of life. It reminds me of our oneness.
5 spots in Brooklyn people should know about?
What’s your most significant accomplishment to date?
Dropping two full-length projects in one year. Best Hip Hop/ R&B Artists in the Deli Magazine, completing my residency at National Sawdust as the first Hip-Hop artist to feature Performance art, writing and rapping in two commercials for television, and being able to surpass survival and learning to thrive as an independent DIY artist full time.
Who/what inspires you?
Knowing that the voice and art have the capacity to change people for the highest good. Knowing that life has many so parallels to the greats inspire me. And of course, my momma.
Thinking about the future, where do you see yourself in the next 30 years?
I’ll be a Hip Hop and Black Psychology professor on sabbatical, somewhere on the coast of Cape Verde, mentoring artists on how to get their lives and watching my grandkids talk about Biggie.
What’s next for you?
And yes!!! I am exhibiting my performance art project “All A Dream”: Intro to Latasha at Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturdays, tonight, February 3rd, 2018 at 8:30pm. It is a full experience of my transcendental “around the way girl” life.