“If you really want to know what Brooklyn sounds like, listen to Latasha,” says Brooklyn Magazine, which, given the source, is pretty much the ultimate compliment to Latasha Alcindor as a performing artist. Growing up in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush, Latasha Alcindor was in the heart of a diverse and dynamic cultural hub; but at home, her family subscribed to a more traditional narrative for success: college, followed by corporate America.
However, after a few years of working as an administrative assistant after graduating from Wesleyan, it was becoming increasingly clear to Latasha that she would never be able to find peace with her mother’s formula for success. She began to explore her musical and artistic aspirations, transitioning her longtime passion for writing poetry into material for her hip-hop lyrics.
In 2012, Latasha released her debut album, The L.A. Riots: Mental Fatality, under the performer name L.A.. It was a dark and challenging period in her life. The write-ups and mentions Latasha received for her album were followed by an onslaught of bullying comments that targeted her as a woman and body-shamed her for her appearance. She was also facing a volatile romantic relationship and felt trapped in corporate America to uphold her mother’s approval.
Latasha carried on, using her struggles and frustration as inspiration for her music, and went on to release another single, “Bee Em (Black Magic)”, in 2014. “Bee Em” was an in-your-face commentary on cultural appropriation and racial prejudice — and it got the internet’s attention. One unnamed angel investor saw her music video and was moved to make a $10,000 investment for Latasha to pursue her music career. It was enough money for Latasha to quit her day job and move out of her mother’s house, which was the final push that she needed to leave corporate America forever and begin her career as an independent artist full-time.
Since then, Latasha Alcindor (now performing under her full name), has opened music festivals for artists like Q-Tip, Big Sean and Kanye West. Her sound is influenced by factors including her mixed background (Panamanian, Jamaican, Haitian, and Puerto Rican), her Brooklyn upbringing, and her strong perspective as a young black woman — but her authenticity and don’t-come-for-me-unless-I-send-for-you attitude are universal.
Latasha continues to self-release albums under her own publishing and creative company, TruLyte, as she expands upon her creative pursuits. She was awarded Best in NYC 2017 in the hip-hop/electronic category by The Deli Magazine, and named one of Brooklyn Mag’s 30 under 30 for the Class of ‘18.
Her recent release, “Glo Up” was hailed by Refinery29 as every woman’s “self-love, anti-fuckboy anthem for 2018”. Seriously, listen to it: you’ll have the refrain — “I glo, fa sho” — playing on repeat in your head in no time, and you won’t even be mad about it.
We interviewed Latasha Alcindor to see what she’s up to next.
Introduction by Meredith Reed
Name: Latasha Alcindor
Artist Name: LATASHA
Currently based in: New York City
Originally from: Brooklyn, NY
What were you doing before you became a musician?
I was living many different lives; my dream was once to be a journalist, then a playwright and actor. At the same time as all of this daydreaming, I was working at Urban Outfitters part-time and J.P. Morgan full-time. At all times, I was a poet.
What impulsed you to finally let all of that go and chase your musical passion?
After living those many lives, I started rapping by accident. After transforming my poetry into raps and falling deeper in love with music, I decided to start living my childhood visions that had been stifled by my family’s fears of [non-traditional] success. So it wasn’t really a chase; it was an ascension.
Did you have any fears when making the transition? If so, what helped you overcome them?
I had loads of fears and still have some, like confidence, body image, and losing people. What has helped me overcome these fears is self-love and taking the time to get to know myself, as well as connecting with people who mesh well with my spirit and vision of peace.
In your music, what message are you trying to convey?
I can’t really define the message; I just want you to feel something — maybe feeling some raw truth and seeing freedom.
Do you experience any gender discrimination working in the music industry? How do you deal with it?
I think that every industry has discrimination if it has been infected with westernized systems of thought. Music has its quarrels, from dudes telling me I shouldn’t air out my relationship [in my music] to being told how I should rap and dress. I remember it’s all bull. I do my best to remember that at the core, what is most important is resonating [with people]. Nothing can beat the people, and nothing can beat the people feeling and connecting with you.
You recently came out with your own publishing and creative agency, Trulyte. First off, how did you come up with that name?
I use to have a hashtag called LALYTES when I went by “L.A.” at the beginning of my career. I felt like LALYTES was great, but I needed something more open, truer, that the people I want to reach out to would understand. The whole purpose was for me to grow a home for people to grow their truest passion, fire, and light.
What inspired you to create TruLyte?
I had a lot of rough patches in my career. I needed a support group a long time ago, and so I decided to make my own. Along with being a content hub for my art and music, TruLyte will also have events geared towards mental health, self-love, and watering your passions for growth. In the future, when my music career is at a place where I can bring in more people, I dream to bring in more artists to help with self-development because these labels aren’t doing it anymore. If you are in a good position, every artist should look into creating a company for themselves.
In the upcoming years, what do you envision to occur with Trulyte?
I envision TruLyte being a home where one can create content, share it amongst a loving community, and prepare it to put out into the world. […] In the near future, we are having our first women’s creative retreat with the homies from Now What.
After being in the music industry for over three years now, what kind of advice do you give to other women who are trying to make it?
Create your own path, fuck a plan, and keep a limitless vision.