Though many obstacles come with being a female artist in a male-dominated industry, LaToria pushes on with her big personality and the strength demonstrated to her early on. LaToria knew at an early age that she wanted to pursue Christian Hip Hop, and through looking to God and having a solid group of friends, she persisted.
From the release of her first album, “A Simple Task” to the upcoming release of her new album “Long Walk Vol: 2”, LaToria has not only been another force to reckon with in the CHH genre but a leader and fighter in her devotion to God.
A Peaked Interest
Being raised as the oldest of five by her mother and aunt in Dallas, Texas, LaToria had the example of strong women in her life.These women were such an example to LaTori that she referred to them as her superheroes.
“They are like superheroes to me,” LaToria shared with Resolute Magazine over email. “I watched them walk through some really hard situations but saw, and adopted their strength. Over the years, I have applied that strength to my own life.”
Like many artists, LaToria fell in love with hip-hop at an early age. Growing up in a Christian home where Jesus was very important, one would feel that hip-hop was never an option for LaToria. However, her desire to have a relationship with Jesus, and to tell others about him, combined with seeing Queen Latifah on “Yo MTV Raps”, helped LaToria see that Christian Hip Hop was something she wanted to pursue when she grew up. In 2006, she did just that.
LaToria was in a lukewarm state in regards to her faith, but she never lost her love for music. Through a mutual friend, she met a producer who introduced her to the world of performing. In 2006, she released her first album, “A Simple Task”. This album turned out to be a learning experience for LaToria to look back on.
“It was a huge learning experience,” LaToria shared. “I thank God because I have grown so much since that album release. I worked with only one producer for the entire project, which was a good experience. I'm not sure if I would do it that way again, but I'm thankful for what I learned.”
After this album, LaToria entered 2007 winning her first award for “Best Christian Female Emcee in Dallas”. By 2011, she released her Ao1 EP, the first project she did from beginning to end completely on her own.
“Ao1 was the first project that I did from beginning to end on my own; finding production, photography, budgeting music videos, and promotion,” LaToria shared. “I wanted the theme to be that our lives are to an audience of one-- and that’s God. My music will always talk about real life experiences and the hope is that, in some way, I am able to connect with people and encourage them from a real-life standpoint, through a biblical worldview.”
LaToria continues to make a name for herself. Her single “Loose” was selected to be a part of a CHH compilation album distributed by Capitol Christian Music Group in 2014.
With that increased exposure came even more of a pressure to prove herself in a genre that has become synonymous with “male”.
LaToria on being a female MC in CHH
One of the frequent issues women in CHH face is not being taken seriously. While any new or upcoming artist is questioned for their ability, women are under a microscope. For LaToria, not being taken seriously-- being overlooked, being pre-judged and misunderstood, and having to deal with double standards-- seemed unyielding. However, LaToria constantly clings to God, not just for affirmation, but for her identity.
“I honestly have to cling to the Lord and constantly look to Him for my affirmation and identity,” LaToria said. “He has placed several friends and family and just general supporters around me to encourage me when I need to keep going.”
And, it’s been worth it.
LaToria, in addition to her 2014 release of “Long Walk: Vol. 1”, is working to release “Long Walk: Vol. 2”, which is to release within the second quarter of 2018.
“Volume 2 will be a continuation of the “Journey of The Believer” from my perspective, and the perspective of those in my life,” LaToria expressed. “It will have a slightly more mature sound because I have a burden on my heart to really connect with maturing young women who love hip hop as well, but who don’t necessarily have a voice that represents them. You can say it’s ‘hip-hop soul’ with a little bit of ‘turn up’.”
And, the work doesn’t stop there for LaToria. The artist practices what she preaches, and in her advice to up and coming female MC’s, she notes that having a solid team is a key to not only being reminded why you started but in checking your lyrics for biblical accuracy.
“Know and understand the responsibility that comes with being a CHH artist,” LaToria shared. “Pray often about the role that you should be playing and the need that you need to be meeting.”
*Photos submitted by LaToria Music Team