Rah Digga’s Classic Rap Attack (Interview)
“My goal is to make music. I’m not trying to change the game I’m not trying to be anybody’s saving grace”
Fifteen years ago Rashia Fischer debuted her fiery inflection on “Cowboys” from The Fugees album The Score. Her unmitigated word flux was instantly recognized as one built on sober rhyme schemes and perennial boldness. The former Outsidaz became well-known as a member of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad before the release of her solo entrée Dirty Harriet. Expectations for her to become the dominant female voice in rap were understandable because of Harriet’s gritty gravity. But her follow-up album Everything Is A Story was shelved and Rah decided she wanted a break from the business. Film school and ten years later she has re-emerged with the Nottz-produced revelry for hip-hop’s musical foundation aptly dubbed Classic. She is touring and already recording her next full-length to assure fans that her momentum will not be broken again with another ten-year hiatus.
It’s been a while since Dirty Harriet and I know there were problems with Everything Is A Story, were you writing during the time you didn’t have any new music out?
Yes I did do some appearances on some projects. I actually took some time off from music altogether and went to the New York Film Academy and took some film director and editing courses. And maybe going into 2010 I came-up with the idea to do like an anniversary EP for Dirty Harriet because the 10-year anniversary was coming up. So I got some tracks from Nottz and it ended-up being a whole album. I actually had no intentions of putting out a whole album like that but everything just kind of came together once I started working with Nottz.
I saw where Raw Concept kind of pushed you with it.
Yeah they didn’t want to do an EP they wanted to do a whole album with Nottz by himself. And at first I was like ‘eh I don’t want to do a whole album’ but once we started working together he did so much stuff on Dirty Harriet we just got that chemistry. And I was going to record ten songs and pick the best five or six for an EP and it ended-up being a whole album with 10 songs.
What is your creative process?
I do all my writing in the studio so I would say just getting to the studio. No matter how much I try to prepare for a session in advance once I get to the studio everything just kind of starts all over from scratch in my head.
Classic is obviously an album for the hip-hop purist, I’ve read where you’ve talked about how radio rap is dumbing down the hip-hop intelligence of young people, what needs to happen to get the young people more aware of the art’s history?
Everybody has their musical preferences andI think it’s kind of hard when most radio stations recycle the same songs. I think maybe if people tuned in more to the blogs they would probably be exposed to more different varieties of music. When I was growing-up we got Blondie and Michael Jackson on the same station. It’s kind of hard when radio stations are so segregated now. So I would definitely suggest checking out the various blog sites because there’s a lot of talented people despite what the industry would lead you to believe. There’s no chicks, there’s only a handful of guys doing it but there’s a rainbow of artists doing it.
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Could you talk a little bit about the reason why you prefer for women rappers to be referenced without regards for their gender?
I just think it’s corny when people say “She’s dope for a girl.” I just feel that a dope emcee is a dope emcee it doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or not. I don’t believe in somebody being dope “for a girl” like what does that mean? If they were a dude would they be wack? Like what does that mean exactly?
Why do you think women rappers are so under the radar right now?
I think the industry has kind of brainwashed people into believing that lyrics don’t matter anymore. With rappers it’s just about everything else that’s going on, who you’re affiliated with or who’s behind you. There’s so many talented people that just don’t get their shine because they’re not affiliated with someone or they’re not selling sex. Like a lot of the lyricists don’t want you to believe they’re a dope emcee like it’s the least significant thing. But I think it means everything like it dictates who’s going to be around in the long run.
Who are your favorite rappers?
I got a different range. As far as veterans go I would say Nas is definitely one of my favorites. Kool G Rap from The Juice Crew is one of my favorites Jay-Z and Eminem. And as far as like up and coming artists there are some more under the radar Sean Price he was formerly with Helter Skelter and he’s still like kicking ass. Skyzoo is another up and coming artist that I like. Eternia from Canada who’s performing with me tonight I like 9th Wonder’s new artist Rapsody I like Torae from Duckdown Records. I have a lot of different favorites.
What made you fall in love with hip-hop?
I fell in love with hip-hop when hip-hop was just about hip-hop. I like the whole art of writing rhymes and delivering them and wordplay, metaphors and doing as much creative stuff as you can within a verse. When I fell in love with hip-hop lyrics was everything and that’s what I pride on.
Do you have a favorite song from Classic?
I would have to say “You Got It” track number 10. It is a remake of Rakim’s “You Got Soul” I just like the way it’s all put together musically. I have two favorites actually. “Lil Kid Rap” is another one of my favorites because that’s just a message that I can’t campaign enough. I hear so many different artists and just wisecracks amongst people about artists being too old to rhyme and stuff. And I feel like the best rappers are the older ones.
I read another interview where you said that your nieces and nephews weren’t breaking down rhyme schemes and analyzing lyrics and that you don’t speak Ebonics fluently enough to follow their music. But you also said that today’s music didn’t have a MC Lyte or a Chuck D.
[Laughs] Exactly that’s how I feel. There’s no Queen Latifah there’s no MC Lyte for this new generation. The artists that could be that just aren’t getting their shine.
What are your goals as a rapper?
My goal is to make music. I’m not trying to change the game I’m not trying to be anybody’s saving grace. I just love music I love making music I love the feeling that I get from it hopefully people will look at me and say “Here’s somebody who’s been doing this for a really long time and she’s not doing the
selling sex thing maybe lyrics are important.”
What are your plans with film studies under your belt?
I plan on establishing a film production company. I’m slowly building up my editing resume like I’m still in the embryonic stages hopefully I can use my name to help me along to help break down some of those barriers. I did do the editing for my first video “No Lil’ Kid Rap” so I’ve got that on the resume. I’ve done a couple of things for people in the neighborhood like guys wanting little Youtube videos. So hopefully when I do decide to retire from music I can probably segway into editing and directing full-time. Like a lot of the actors who feel like they arent’ looking as good as they did in front of the camera they venture into directing. When I get tired of being a rapper I definitely want a full-time career editing.
You won’t make us wait as long for the next one right?
Oh no, I’m already working on the next one. I want to say it will probably be out late summer early Fall. I don’t have another 10 years to wait.
Is there anything you want to add?
I definitely want to thank everyone who’s been supporting me and I promise you won’t have to wait another 10 years. You can follow me on Twitter @therealrahdigga. And also look out for my smartphone app it’s on the way. It’s actually available now for Android and Blackberry and iPhone is about a month away. What it does is it allows people to battle rap over the phone. People can schedule battles over the phone and vote on it. The people that accumulate the most battles whatever particular region they’re in when I visit that town in April they’ll be opening up for me.