Rah Digga: The Resurrection of “Dirty Harriet”


 Sitting in a moderately crowded martini bar in South Orange, New Jersey, Rah Digga joyfully sips her Jolly Rancher martini. As she enjoys her cocktail, she begins making casual conversation with a couple of women sitting a few bar stools down. She looks relaxed. She exudes a calming aura that makes those near ash though they have known her for years. The New Jersey native appears to be a regular customer who frequents, not one of the greatest female emcees to ever touch the mic.

When it comes to females in Hip-Hop, there are a very select few who can hold their own trying to survive in a male dominated industry. The majority of people expect females to be soft, exude sex appeal, brag about the designer labels they wear and how much money they are getting. Not Rah Digga. But then again, Rah Digga isn’t your average female emcee.

Ten years ago, Rah Digga came on the scene with a mission to prove that she could out rhyme even the best emcee, male or female. She made it clear that she wasn’t just about the party records. In fact, her true love for Hip-Hop consisted of her murdering the beat and penning rhymes that can make the hottest emcee double back into the studio to re-write verses.

It has been 10 years since Rah Digga dropped, but Dirty Harriet is back from the underground railroad of rap. “If you like the old Rah Digga, you’re gonna love the new Rah Digga!” Digga says. Continue.

AllHipHop.com: You’ve been away for quite a while. A lot people might be thinking what does Rah Digga have left to contribute to Hip Hop?

Rah Digga: Rah Digga is Hip Hop! One thing about me, from day one, I’ve always presented myself as someone who loves rhyming and who is an emcee first and foremost. I didn’t come to the game because of how I looked or how I dressed or how I did anything else except for how I rhymed. I think it’s just something that’s in me. It wasn’t something that was put together by a label. It wasn’t something somebody else invented. This is something I’ve been doing all my life. So whenever I’m allowed to do me, you’re always gonna get the best female emcee that ever did it.

"I just got tired of rapping for a buzz. It was getting corny to me. I had a second album getting ready to come out and then it didn’t. And then we got dropped from J Records."

-Rah Digga

AllHipHop.com: What makes Rah Digga so raw?

Rah Digga: I’m real blunt with the truth. I’m one of those people who’s been studying Hip Hop practically from its own inception. I studied people like Rakim. I really learned to rhyme during a time when rhyming was raw. Rhyming was serious. Of course, there was always the different lanes and the different scope of artist. Some bring out the comical aspect, some bring out the colorful aspect, and then there’s some that are just raw. In the times of Mc Lyte and battling, that’s just what they did. And that’s when I learned how to rhyme and it’s always been something that’s stuck with me. I’m just a serious person. When I think of rhyming, I’m being analytical, I’m being philosophical. This is not just something I’m doing to make people sing along. You can pick the album apart for the rest of your life. I have lines with double and triple meanings and that’s what I consider fun when I’m rhyming. So, it comes off raw and serious. I’m such an educated person, so you’re not gonna get elementary rhymes.

AllHipHop.com: Did you go to college?

Rah Digga: Yes, I did. I did two years at NJIT (The New Jersey Institute of Technology). I was a wiz in Physics and Calculus. Math and Science were my strongest subjects. It was the lyrical stuff that ended making me pick up a career in it. Writing verses is almost mathematic for me. (Laughs)

AllHipHop.com: What caused the split between you and Flipmode?

Rah Digga: Personally, I just got tired of rapping for a buzz. It was getting corny to me. I had a second album getting ready to come out and then it didn’t. And then we got dropped from J [Records]. And then we spent like two years just being hot in the streets and doing mix tapes. So it just became real corny to me. So I stopped. I bought property in PA. I did the whole nature thing and just chilled.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think being on Flipmode overshadowed your raw talent?

Rah Digga: I don’t think they overshadowed me. I think I stood out being in Flipmode. Naturally, Busta was the captain of the ship. The label pretty much let us have our way but when they got serious about making their quota, they would sometimes push Flipmode to the side. Like, “Oh, we gotta do a Busta Rhymes album”. So a lot of times it was just circumstances out of our control. But that’s what happens sometimes when you’re signed to a label under a big artist.

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AllHipHop.com: How did leaving Flipmode affect you?

Rah Digga: It didn’t really affect me in any way. Especially with it being something that I wanted to do. It was just getting to the point where I felt it I needed to be honest with Busta and let him know I didn’t feel like doing this anymore.

AllHipHop.com: Are there any other producers on the album?

Rah Digga: This album right here, Nottz is the only producer on the album and I’ma tell you why. I ended up going down there and getting a couple of beats and then I started learning about a label they were forming called Raw Koncept. And he’s putting out his own album that he produced.

AllHipHop.com: He’s an artist too?

Rah Digga: He’s a producer first, but he does rhyme. He’s been producing for over a decade. He’s done records for Snoop and Kanye. He’s the producer that other producers go get. Kanye, when he did “Barry Bonds”, Nottz did that. He’s done Scarface. He’s done R. Kelly. He’s that dude. He’s worked with the rawest of the underground to the most popular of mainstream artists. And it just flowed so well. He’s a producer’s producer’s producer and I’m a rapper’s rapper. As an emcee, I feel like the things that I do even when I get “street” still have the potential to be mainstream. I’m not a mainstream artist. I still “too street” vs. that “mainstream artist”.

"This year, it’s Nicki Minaj. At one point it was Remy. At one point, it was Kim. To me, everybody just takes turns. I don’t look at one person and say this is it for Hip Hop."

-Rah Digga

AllHipHop.com: There’s not a lot of female doing it in the industry right now. What are your thoughts on Nicki Minaj and where she’s taking Hip Hop right now?

Rah Digga: I think she’s just one facet of it. It’s unfortunate that with the females, it only gets to be one at a time. This year, it’s Nicki Minaj. At one point it was Remy. At one point, it was Kim. To me, everybody just takes turns. I don’t look at one person and say this is it for Hip Hop. I think everybody brings all kind of different things to Hip Hop. As soon as I come, everybody’s like “this is the real Hip Hop!” Whoever is poppin’ is where it’s poppin’. (Laughs)

AllHipHop.com: Do you ever think women in Hip Hop will get the respect they deserve?

Rah Digga: Um, I think it’s important for females to do as much together as we can. We always say we wanna do stuff. And we might do some songs here and there. But we’re not really coming together. And it doesn’t help that soon as one of us puts a song out the public turns it into a dis’ song towards the next chick. I think there are all sorts of lanes for everybody. As long as chicks continue to do there thing and stand they’re ground, they’ll be alright. With me, it just about rhyming.

AllHipHop.com: In your mind, what defines success? Records sales or fans?

Rah Digga: What is successful to me is when people say that I’m the illest female emcee they ever heard. I don’t care about being famous, I just like to make money. I like to do positive things, be a pillar of the community, and make money. To me, it’s not about being famous. People gotta understand that this is a creative thing. It’s many different schools of product. For me, it’s about lyrics. I don’t care what else is going on. I don’t care what you sold. If your verse is corny, I’m not buyin’ it. Does it make you think? Are people still going to be talking about you 20 years later, like how they talk about Mc Lyte, how they talk about Rakim, how they talk about KRS, Nas, Biggie?

AllHipHop.com: Do you think you’ll be more successful now that you’re with an independent label?

Rah Digga: I just put out a leak record over an M.O.P. beat and I got the world flocking like it’s my it’s my first single. I’m doing an interview right now with AllHipHop because I put out some freestyle over an M.O.P. beat. It’s a mixtape joint for crying out loud.

AllHipHop.com: Will they be still talking about Rah Digga?

Rah Digga: They still talking about me now. I ain’t had an album out in 10 years. 10 years later, people are still talking about me and blogging about me. And that was based off of “Dirty Harriet”.

AllHipHop.com: What criteria do you think an artist has to fit in order to be considered the best? Do you consider yourself the best or one of the best to ever do it?

Rah Digga: Rah Digga being the best of all time is always gonna be an opinion. That just happens to be my opinion. If that’s not how you feel, I ain’t gon’ be mad at you because it’s a matter of opinion. Me saying, my album is a classic, it means, five, ten years from now, you’re gonna be able to pop it in the CD player and still be able to decipher punch lines that went over your head when it first dropped. It’s not gonna sound like it was a trendy sound at that time. The album I’m putting out right now, it’s not a trendy sound at this time. It’s a sound where if you love lyricist and Hip Hop, just beats and rhymes, boom bap. This is a sound you’re gonna love yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It’s a way of living. I’ve got a lot of stuff that you’re gonna be able to sing to yourself, 10, 15 years from now.

AllHipHop.com: Who do you think is your biggest competition?

Rah Digga: I think my biggest competition is myself. I’m the only person that inspires me to want to write a better rhyme. I listen to other people for entertainment. I listen to my own music for inspiration. I compare myself to myself. I don’t compare myself with other people. I feel like I’m in my own lane. I’m from my own school. Nobody else is cut from the cloth that I’m cut from. You do your thing and I do mine and hopefully the roads don’t ever collide.

AllHipHop.com: On your MySpace page, you say, “I’m gonna save Hip Hop next year and then do a movie about it”. What makes you feel that way? Are you really going to make a movie about it? How do you plan on accomplishing that?

Rah Digga: I got my own camera, I know how to edit. After I put this album out, I just might put it on the screen. You know, it could be something. It could be nothing. I know I’m gonna resurrect it. I know my album goes crazy hard. The fans are gonna be like “Wow! I haven’t heard this in a long time.” I feel like other emcees and other artists are gonna hear my album and be like, “ok, I might need to get back in the lab”. That’s what I think. I’ve had the opportunity to be “Dirty Harriet” again. 10 years later at this stage, instead of trying to collaborate with a bunch of people or make a certain kind of sound. I’m “straight spittin’”. And it’s working for me. It sounds incredible.

AllHipHop.com: Who is your top five, dead or alive? Male or female?

Rah Digga: Kool G Rap. Eminem. It’s so crazy. I have different categories of top five. I think lyrically, since I first started, I always felt Kool G Rap was the dopest lyricist. I think Eminem is probably one of the best lyricists. Me. I’m one of my top five. Me, Eminem, Kool G Rap, I love Jay-Z. I love the fact the grown up and sophisticated Jay-Z. Mc Lyte, of course. To me, she showed me how to do it as a female. She’s such a pioneer, she’s such an icon.

AllHipHop.com: Do you ever plan on putting the mic down?

Rah Digga: Eventually! (Laughs) I definitely wanna go out with a bang. If this were to be the last album. It’s gonna be damn good. Sade came back her exact same self ten years later and she killed em’. I feel like as long as I can be myself, that just shows me I can be Dirty Harriet and still command that same success because all my fans grew with me and the new ones are gonna know what the hell a real emcee is supposed to sound like.