New Jersey female emcee Rah Digga is back after a decade long absence from the hip-hop world with a killer new album, appropriately titled Classic (Raw Koncept Media Group/Traffic). Early on in her rap career (mid 1990s) the artist born Rashia Fisher was part of the NJ based crew called The Outsiders. Even earlier (during the Das EFX era), she was known as Rah Diggity before settling on the rap name Rah Digga. Up until now, she had not been heard from since her acclaimed debut album, Dirty Harriet, dropped in 2000.
Formerly the First Lady of the Flipmode Squad, and known by many for her collaborations with that collective's main man, Busta Rhymes (she first appeared on his second solo record, 1997's When Disaster Strikes), Rah Digga's career actually dates back some years before that connection.
For her long delayed sophomore album, which was released in mid September, she enlisted the production skills of Nottz, who had produced five tracks on Dirty Harriet. On Classic he handles all the production duties and in so doing brings out the very best in the Brick City (Newark , NJ) emcee on tracks such as the lead single "This Ain't No Lil Kid Rap." The video for this song is below and you can also listen to a remix version of the song featuring Redman right here.
I recently caught up with Rah Digga to ask her about her career, including why the long gap between her two albums and why she is making a comeback at this time. "Well, for me, I never really stopped recording but I was recording more at my leisure. And as the dawn of the ten year anniversary of Dirty Harriet started approaching I just started reaching out to different producers that I had worked with on the first album," she said. She ended up working with Nottz, with whom she says she has "a great chemistry" and notes, "Our chemistry is so crazy that once we got in the studio I basically just stayed there. And so the whole album was recorded in just two weeks."
A really gifted lyricist, it has often been said that Rah Digga does not get the type of respect and credit that she deserves. I asked her if she thought this was true. "I think that the people who are familiar with my work give me all the credit that I need," she said. "I didn't come into this business to try to convince the world of anything. I'm an artist and I feel as though I make good art, and that people who appreciate good art can appreciate me."
Something that does seem to irk her a little is the fact that many people seem to think that her career began with Busta Rhymes' crew. "To a lot of people I am the girl from Flipmode Squad," she said of the Busta headed collective who didn't release their debut album, The Imperial (Flipmode/Universal/Motown), until 1998. But Rah Digga had been making music for years before that. In fact, two years earlier she was featured on a verse alongside Lauryn Hill on The Fugees' second album. She recalled how it was as part of the Outsiders crew that she initially hooked up with The Fugees. That led to her cameo on their 1996 album The Score (Ruffhouse/Columbia) on the track "Cowboys." "That catapulted me or led me into the offices of Elektra Records, where I was ultimately signed to Q-Tip and that came about from a Lyricist Lounge showcase that I performed at while about eight months pregnant. So I was actually a signed artist and doing things with Q-Tip and the Fugees even before Flipmode came about," she said.
As far as being a female in a male dominated world, I asked Rah Digga if she felt it had been difficult and/or challenging being in the minority. "I didn't feel like I had any problems or obstacles to face. It's always challenging when you're not doing the protocol -- with the protocol being selling sex. So by the time I really got to the height of my movement with Flipmode, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown were the prominent female emcees at that time. So the sexual revolution, as far as female emcees, was already in full swing, so I guess I might have been like the black sheep in that era and that's probably where there are a lot of the comments I get from people about 'oh, you are so underrated' come from. I think that there is where a lot of the underration [sic] comes from because I was a female that wasn't selling sex, but a female who focused on lyrics first and foremost....It wasn't about image but more about me as a lyricist."
Does the uneven ratio of female to male hip-hop artists surprise or frustrate Rah Digga? "No. No, not at all," she replied, "because, honestly, this is a male dominated sport for a reason. It's hard work. It's not really a glamorous job and it does take a lot of backbone and tenacity to really be able to withstand your male counterparts. People always ask where have all the females gone and [say] labels aren't being fair to females.
But at the same token I can honestly say that a lot of females are lazy and they are kind of expecting everything to be handed to them and they're not really just bringing it. I don't think females should get passes just because they're females. It's like, can you bump your album from beginning to end without any fast forwarding? I honestly don't think females are stepping up to the plate as individuals and honing their own craft. So I can't be mad at a society for looking the other way if you, as a female artist, are not commanding that attention."
For more information on Rah Digga check out her MySpace or follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.
Rah Digga "This Ain't No Lil Kid Rap" (2010)