an a New York female MC with a pretty face be taken seriously for her art? This is the struggle that Nina B faces. The Crown Heights Brooklyn spitter explains her lyrical passion to AllHipHop.com.
Having quietly crept through the industry on The Games West Coast Resurrection album last year, Nina has recently released her 4th installment of her “Live & Learn” mixtape series. The artist turned down reported major label deals, Nina opted for unknown New York label, Ravenel Records to release her forthcoming debut. Kay Slay has not only added the artist to recent volumes Street Sweepers mixtape, he broke her record, Characters for the Hot 97 audiences as well. With national nods coming from East and West, Nina B is one New Jacqueline to watch.
AllHipHop.com: When did your interest in music begin?
Nina B: I think most of us are born with a love for music. To each his own, but it’s in us. From my childhood, I would watch my mom sing her Soul songs, and bop her head harmoniously, while she was working the mop across the
floors. You see, in my household, clean-up days meant loud music, so I guess I was taught unintentionally that music moves you. It began there right at home.
AllHipHop.com: How did it become a passion though?
Nina B: I’m not gonna front, I have been writing rhymes since [age] 13, but I was not taking it serious. I used it as an outlet for some of the stress I was dealing with, [and] also as a pastime. I would write to tracks like I was
featured on them. In my mind, I could see myself doing it. I felt like, “Why not me? I’m good.” But I struggled with the reality of, “I can be better.” I was offered a deal when I was 16 or 17 on some, “You got the look” s**t, but they was tryna do me dirty. They wanted me to have a
ghostwriter. My moms told me to go for it. I said to myself, “If I don’t get a [fair] deal by the time I’m 18, I quit.” I thought it was gonna be that easy. I wasn’t even trying. I was 18, retired, and I hadn’t even ever recorded one of my songs. When I decided to come back, that was when I was very ambitious about what I wanted, and how I was gonna get it accomplished.
AllHipHop.com: So how does all of this play into your music? What sets you apart from anybody else?
Nina B: I realized, at a very early age, that I’m not like everybody else. Not to say I’m special, but I am different, my music reflects that. I speak from a place in me, not just my heart, but a place in me, a place I visit when I’m in deep thought. I don’t just say what sounds hot, or what
I think you wanna hear. I know who I am, and what I’m capable of. My style is scrambled — a lil bit of this and a whole lot of that. It’s hood, but it’s not ignorant. It’s powerful, ’cause it’s real. It’s creative, it’s innovative, and it’s portaits on a page. My style is all that.
AllHipHop.com: You just released the 4th edition of your Live & Learn series. Saying all youve said, why hasnt there been an album yet?
Nina B: I ended the Live & Learn compilation series at volume four. The name was significant to me ’cause that’s what it’s all about, living and learning, living and growing. So with my album, I have to top that. I’m constantly trying to outdo myself. I don’t even worry about other people. Maybe that’s why Im taking my sweet time with this album, I’m teasing you all with the mixtapes like appetizers. But, that main course is gonna sit in you for a minute. I’m starting fresh with a much more insightful approach. I’m hooking up with everything and everybody.
I can’t even speak on it.
AllHipHop.com: Let’s discuss your longevity in this business of music — What do you feel has been, and will continue to be, the key to your success?
Nina B: I pride myself on my ambition, which has carried me this far. I work hard and diligently. I’m not afraid to do the footwork. I’m not afraid to re-invent. Besides,
all that, there is a natural love — a love for what I do that people can sense. I relate to them [my fans], and as long as I don’t lose touch, they can relate to me. You gotta respect somebody who doesn’t give you any other choice, somebody like me.
AllHipHop.com: The market is saturated with artists right now. As your debut awaits, would it be safe to say that you are happy with the current state of Hip-Hop music?
Nina B: Not exactly. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. So, I’m gonna roll with the punches. When I really want something, anything, I will go all out.
I will fight for it. I think now is the time for the ones who really want it show how much we really want it. I can’t say I’m happy, but then again I can’t say I’m mad.
AllHipHop.com: Whats the biggest endorsement youve gotten so far?
Nina B: I would have to say Kay Slay playing my song [Characters] on the radio for the first time on Hot 97. That feeling is so powerful. And, to have people around you who feel it to, ’cause they know how hard you work, it’s priceless.
AllHipHop.com: Looking ahead, say, five or even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?
Nina B: Well, I really can’t call it, but I’ll give it a shot. I’ll probably still be doing it, but on a whole nother level. If I keep pushing, like I’m pushing, I know that I am going to have all the respect and success I deserve. Right now, I’m just going with the flow. Hopefully by then, I’ll be an icon, and I’m taking my team with me to the top.
AllHipHop.com: As for the immediate future, what’s next for you?
Nina B: Right now, we throwing a lot of buzz records out there. I’m jumping all over mixtapes; we doing a lot of videos. My director, Worst Case Scenario, does his thing. I’m getting a lot of feedback about the quality of my videos. They play on Uncle Ralphs Video Music Box, and all your favorite public access shows. [They] got me in heavy rotation. Aside from that, I done hosted joints for DJ Gooch, DJ L Gee, DJ Spree, DJ Knuckles, DJ Ism, DJ Don Juan, these are all out and about. But, I’m just keeping the people entertained while I’m sitting on the album – it’s all about timing. I want you to want it, get it, and say, “Damn, that’s just what I needed.