An art-school graduate, she began rapping around the age of thirteen, and left for New York four years later to pursue her passion full time. She’s got a number of tracks floating around the net (download one below) and there’s a mixtape, Doobies x Popsicle Sticks, on the way soon with her somewhat delayed first EP, The Boombox Diaries Volume I, also still in the works.
Refreshingly, Nitty seems entirely unconcerned with the prestige of major-label glory, happy to rely instead on the credibility that comes with the grind of indie status. We talked to her about why she believes in emphasising hip hop’s lyrical artistry over its ability to produce millionaires, and about her hopes and aims for a more feminist hip hop future.
What did you listen to growing up? Who did you first see live?
I listened to my Daddy’s vinyl growing up. Bob Marley, Fleetwood Mac, 2Pac, Sly & The Family Stone and Stevie Wonder are the ones that I can actually remember physically holding and dancing to in the living room. I just appreciated good music from the start because that’s all I was exposed to: classics. And my mom took me to see the Janet Jackson Velvet Rope tour in Orlando when I was about eight, and I remember just being mesmerised.
What’s the worst job you ever had?
Any job that I wasn’t passionate about was the worst job, and I’ve had a lot of those.
What is your favourite instrument?
I was sort of a band geek in middle school, so I used to run with the kid who carried around a tuba twice his size. I played the clarinet and learned how to read and write music. I kinda wish I could find the time to pick it up again. But my favourite instrument, actually, is my voice. It’s powerful, and I don’t mean the volume.
How important is your image to your music on a personal level?
I think my image is vital to my music. It’s a reflection of it. You can expect the same characteristics of my image in my material. It’s humble, raw, confident, positive. Everything about me is meant to send out the same message, and that’s representing myself and my people in the truest light.
What would you be if you weren’t a musician?
A journalist. But since I went the artistic route, I still sometimes pull the hip-hop CNN and use my music to somewhat “report” on the hip-hop community.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
I would have loved to work with Sam Cooke. The man just moves me. His song ‘Summertime’ was my favourite lullaby when I was little, and I’ve been in love with the his sounds ever since.
What have been your biggest obstacles as a musician?
My biggest obstacle as a musician was the actual transition from a writer to a musician. I come from a formal creative writing background, so I’ve had always had a thing for big vocabularies and being really wordy. Even though these are great skills to bring to the table, I had to learn to become more “musical”, how to blend the poetry with the melody in a way that sounds pleasing. I’m still improving every day, but I’ve gotten pretty good at it.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
There have been too many dope experiences already to name an exact moment, so I’m going to say the overall best thing about my career so far is simply being accepted. Being received. I thought that I’d be trying to prove to people what I could bring to the table for much longer than it actually took. People just got me. Instantly. And they’re already ready for more. It’s a beautiful feeling.
What is your favourite poem?
I’d say ‘Mango For Tiger’ by Glenis Redmond. Back in art school, I remember begging the principal to let me and another classmate perform it until she finally gave in. It’s just a sexy, soulful piece.
Name the last good book you read, and how it affected you
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. It explores some crazy shit, like the criminal mind and if it can be rehabilitated. A gang of thugs run around drinking milk spiked with drugs and terrorising people. I was disturbed, to say the least. But I couldn’t stop reading it.
What’s in your pockets right now?
A rocket, lint and paperclips.
If you were an answer in a crossword puzzle, what would be your clue?
If I were a crossword puzzle, my clue would be, “What is a Beautiful Beast?”
What’s your funniest gig or studio memory?
A few months back, the day we recorded ‘Luv My Life’ (produced by 6th Sense) this crazy lookin’ dude with missing teeth and what not comes to the studio and asks if he can kick some R&B shit for us. So we let homie rock, and not only was the shit just disrespectful to the eardrum but halfway through the madness I realised it was the same dude who got me for my MP3 player almost a year ago in the dollar cab. Ha! I asked him about it and everything, and he’s all, “Listen, I don’t know you, but if you slide me your math I can get to know you.” Uh. He was escorted outside shortly after. But it was too wild, we were all dying.
What kind of person would have sex to your music?
The homies, hippies and hobos.
If you were given an elephant, where would you hide it?
Up my old roommate’s ass, Lord knows it would fit.
What’s a song you would love to cover and why?
I would love to cover ‘Strange Fruit’ by Billie Holiday. It’s this piercing cry against racism. The subject matter is just so controversial, and provokes a lot of emotion. It changed the world. I think I read on a blog somewhere that John Legend and Common beat me to it, but it’s a record that I really love to touch one day.
What music is exciting you in 2011?
I’m excited to see female hip hop in general on this comeback that’s slowly gaining more momentum as we go. A new female emcee here, a new female rap album there. It’s exciting to be a part of, to have my name on the list of women who helped bring it back to life. I’m also excited to see indie musicians in every genre selling out venues and tours worldwide, on their own. It’s a great look.
Which women have inspired you?
The women who raised me, being my mother, aunts and grandmothers, and the other everyday, hardworking women that may not live diva lifestyles but keep their children fed and do their best. I don’t think they’re bigged up enough for being the backbone of our society.
Are major labels doomed?
In my opinion, major labels aren’t doomed, they just don’t have the solid answer or formula to the steep drop in record sales year after year. A lot of it can be blamed on the age of the free download, but the internet has also made it possible for music blogs to organically cover music like my own. The labels haven’t quite figured out how to take advantage of and profit from the internet just yet.
What gives music its worth?
I think music’s worth just comes from its ability to capture human emotion like nothing else. It’s a form of art that can literally be felt, and not just observed. And it speaks a universal language that we all understand.
What would tell your teenage self if you could go back in time?
Honestly, a lot of people might go back in time and try to change the moves or decisions that they made. There were times that I didn’t know if chasing this music dream was the best idea, and caught slack for it here and there. If I could, I would go back and tell a younger Nitty to keep doing exactly what the eff she was doing. To follow her dreams and trust that everything was gonna be okay, because one day you write this three-minute freestyle that hits the net and goes BANG!
Keep up with all things Nitty Scott on Facebook.
Check out the free download of Nitty’s latest track, ‘Auntie Maria’s Crib’, which shows that music’s current obsession with the ’90s isn’t confined to indie-rock. The slick, nostalgia-laden funk of the beat is the perfect backdrop to her assured, beautifully inflected rhymes about spliffs, among other things.
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