We had the good fortune of connecting with Latik McNeil and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Latik, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve always been interested in being able to share and express my love for the arts and the people of my community. From being a kid in NY to a teen in Baltimore, i watched my family work normal 9-5 jobs and knew that I wanted to do something different. I had been dancing since preschool, so i always had a dream of teaching my own classes, choreographing for my favorite artists, and performing on big stages. Taking myself seriously came with life hitting me like a brick and circumstances all pointed to having to make it on my own.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Since I was little, like 5 or 6, i’ve loved music & movement. And from a young age, i was aware of the connection of arts. Enjoying the rap i heard on my dad’s Walkman, to the instruments in my grandmother’s church, to the dance moves my friends were doing. As i grew up and moved to Baltimore county, I was exposed to more diverse art and got a little nerdy. I think this made for a really balanced dynamic in my art. From my poetry to my dancing, i always try to bring the best of all worlds and give voice to all sides. I’ve had struggles with feeling a need to conform or “dumb down” my work, in order to gain more superficial success, but have settled in being content with being an above average artist that’s simply waiting for the rest of the world to catch up & understand. Moving through the Baltimore arts scene, i have honed my skills through the performance & open mic medium, while also using my talents to entertain & connect with the people. I want to always bring positivity to anyone that wants/needs to accept it, using what always brings me positivity: art.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
So while i was born in NY, and there for my first 8 years of life, Baltimore is certainly the place i call home, and regardless of the media image, it is a home of culture & potential. I live a 10 minute walk from the Inner Harbor, so i find myself consistently indulging in community events and festivals hosted by the city. Most recently, the city celebrated Juneteenth with AFRAM, which was an amazing experience of Afro-American culture, as well as holding the Carribean Festival, an absolute ball of dance & life! There are plenty of good eats in the city. If you know anything about Baltimoreans, you should know that crabs are a culture here! And the sports are definitely apart of the cultural standards here in Baltimore. Between Orioles games in the spring & Ravens games in the fall, it’s always a time to find a friend to root with! But beyond the main attractions, Baltimore’s art scene holds the gold. There are many more galleries & boutiques & open mics & showcases than one would believe in a city the media has portrayed as desolate. I long for the day where Baltimore is seen for the talent it holds, and the history it’s experienced.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to shoutout all of the local organizations (AZIZA, MRI, BEC, MdBIO, LTYC, CTI) I have worked with since 2017 that gave me the opportunity, experiences, and connections to become the artist & entrepreneur i am today. I would also like to thank everyone who’s ever shared a smile at my art, the supporters that found value in my talent, & anyone who’s wished for my success. Our hard work pays off.

Instagram: @_illestrate

Linkedin: Latik McNeil

Facebook: Latik Illetsrate McNeil

Youtube: Illestrate McNeil

Image Credits
Yassine El Mansouri

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.