Many jazz purists may not see the genre of hip-hop music as a viable artform, but one female lyricist may change all that. Grammy nominated platinum selling rapstress Rah Digga says if it wasn’t for her roots in hip hop she may have never discovered jazz.
“I pretty much came into the business tooting my own horn, like I know I rap better than 95 percent of the guys out here.”
Rashia Fisher aka Rah Digga burst on the hip-hop scene in the late 90’s. While studying electrical engineering at NJIT Rah Digga made a name for herself on the underground hip-hop scene with her rap co-horts The Outsidaz, which lead to being featured on a track with Lauren Hill from the platinum selling Fugees album The Score.
While continuing to climb the ranks of the hip-hop industry the Newark native says it was her hip-hop mentors and musical influences that introduced her to Jazz.
“KRS ONE, Rakim, Juice Crew, and Nas especially, and one of the things that I do know is Rakim and Nas are actually both children of Jazz Musicians.”
Many hip- hop fans associate Rah Digga with rap icon Busta Rhymes, and while he is credited with introducing Digga to the masses, it was Q-tip from the jazz influenced hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest who signed her first, after a chance meeting during an Outsidaz studio session, and a performance at a NYC hip-hop showcase.
“I'm about eight months pregnant, I’m sitting in the non-smoking area with Q-Tip, while everyone else is in the smoking area, so, I just strike up a conversation with him, and I basically was just really transparent with him and said, yo bro, I got thirty days to get a record deal before I have this baby or I don’t know what my life is going to turn into, and he said Hey I’ll sign you, I have a production situation with Elektra Records, and I think the very next day I fedex’d him my demo tape.
“Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Bahamadia, we were all part of this Lyricist Lounge circuit and I was headlining one of their shows at SOB’s, and I rocked that show eight months pregnant, and I think when he saw that he kind of said, as far as work ethic I don’t think its going to get any better than this, and I was dope by the way, lets just put that out there, the girl can rhyme ok!”
Rah Digga went on to find much success with the release of her 2000 solo debut Dirty Harriet and her ongoing collaborations with Busta Rhymes and the Flipmode Squad, she even broke into the movie scene. Digga was cast in the 2001 horror flick Thirteen Ghosts and starred alongside Beyonce in MTV’s Carmen A Hip-Hopera.
Digga continues to tour the world, and says while things in hip-hop have drastically changed,the worldwide demand for artists like her, who many consider to be the leaders of the jazz influenced golden era of hip-hop, has not dwindled in the least.
"We sustain a nice living just pretty much traveling the world and performing our classic and the songs we’re known for, and for those of us who still have the chops to go in the studio and put it down and still compete with the present day artists we do, but I think the world really just misses that golden era and will just continue to pay a ton of money to hear us, you know, to just vicariously live the 90’s over and over again. I cant say when I’m throwing in the towel yet , I know none of these young folk better not try me though.”