She shook up the underground during her reigning days with Busta Rhymes and the Flipmode Squad, first solidifying her skills as a lyrical goddess nearly 20 years ago. But if you think Rah Digga mysteriously vanished from the rap scene after the disbandment of her crew back in the late ’00s, as Lauryn Hill would say: Come again!
Most recently the fire-spittin’ rap queen grabbed headlines for her frenzy-stirring remarks aimed at Iggy Azalea, where she discredited the Aussie rapstress as an inauthentic emcee, but Rah’s been busy with so much more.
BET.com caught up with the Imperial legend to get the scoop on her upcoming album and hip hop workshop, her take on the current state of female rap, the chances of a Flipmode reunion, and even the possibility of cutting a record with Remy Ma, Nicki Minaj and Azalea.
BET.com: Word is you’re dropping an album soon.
Rah: Yes. … Right now I would say my focus is more so on the community projects that I have going on. But being a “hip hopper” [laughs], born and raised, I don’t think I’ll ever stop making music. But this isn’t really a ‘Rah Digga trying to stage a comeback’ or anything like that. This is more or less, ‘Hey! I still make music,’ you know. … I have a couple of different projects that I am working on, though. One of them is a three-song Hip-House EP. Again, I don’t have set dates for anything. It’s just being from Jersey, I love House music.
Right. Club too?
Umm hmm. So I’m always playing around with House tracks. I have a live band EP that I’m also dropping as well. I’m working with the band that tours with me, so we’re going to record an album just using all live instrumentation — not an album, that’s going to be an EP as well. Probably like six, seven songs.
Do you have any idea what year you’re looking at? Are you going to release these projects this year or the next?
Oh yeah, definitely! I had hoped to get everything released this year. But realistically, it’ll be next year just because the holidays are coming up and I get really busy in the fall. Especially with traveling and touring. And I’m starting a workshop here in Newark. A cultural enrichment workshop, Hip Hop History 101, that’s like my code name for it.
Is that what you were talking about on Twitter when you mentioned the hip hop school for homeless teens?
Yes! … It starts the week of Nov. 11 and what we’re doing is, we’ve targeted a bunch of at-risk youth that have graduated from high school but haven’t really done anything since, kids that have dropped out of high school, and homeless youth. This is an initiative to get them off the streets. Like right now, they’re really just sitting around on porches, they’re lingering on corners, and they’re getting into trouble. So we’re calling these kids to come and we’re paying them to attend these workshops.
That’s great! Speaking of history, your recently released “Angela Davis” track is hot.
[Laughs.] Thank you!
What inspired you to do such a powerful and revolutionary song?
What inspired that record is because I listen to the music that’s out nowadays, I work with these kids, and I think a lot of artists don’t realize how much impact their music is having just as far as shaping their minds. … I feel like if we got rappers making songs about wanting to be this drug dealer and that drug dealer, hey, here’s one: I want to be Angela Davis! … I feel like I’m going against the grain, if you will. Or, I’m being myself, really. I was just being myself. But it’s such an antithesis of what the female rapper prototype is in 2014 that I’m feeling like I’m Angela Davis right now [laughs].
You had the whole controversy with Iggy Azalea and the comments you made about her not really being a hip hop artist, how do you feel about hip hop as a whole?
I don’t think that there’s one real sound that is real hip hop. I mean, that’s like a conundrum, you know. Like there’s no definite answer to what’s real hip hop. But I do feel that today, music business and hip hop culture are dramatically confused. And I say that because there are fundamentals that hip hop purists live and die by, whereas those same fundamentals don’t really apply in music business. Like music business will tell you, ‘Oh, it’s OK if you don’t write. All you gotta do is have a look and a catchy beat and a hook.’ And things like that.
But hip hop has a different set of rules. Hip hop says, ‘No, you’re supposed to write your own rhymes. You’re supposed to be authentic, you’re supposed to be original.’ Now, I wouldn’t say because you participate in the music business, you’re not hip hop. But when the music business starts anointing people with titles and giving people these hip hop accolades, you can’t be alarmed when the hip hop community has questions. … Hip hop isn’t about record sales and charting — that’s music business. Hip hop is about being the best lyricist and being true to yourself.
Be sure to check out Part II of BET.com’s interview with Rah Digga, as she speaks more about female rappers and a possible Flipmode reunion.
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