She is the self-titled Harriett Thugman of Hip Hop and she hasn’t missed a beat in the past two decades of her verbal slaughter as one of the rawest female rappers in hip hop to date. Rashia Fisher aka Rah Digga needs no introduction for she is heralded as one of the genres vanguards of a sound that rough, rugged and all the way live.
Hailing from Newark New Jersey, Rah Digga is unapologetically candid and honest about her Hip Hop and the way the genre has changed since its glory days. Days that she boldly prowled the rap stage as “one of hip-hops most skilled female MC’s alive”, Rah is a definitive student of the Golden Age of hip hop where artists were more driven by the need to prove their rhyming skills than by the lure of fame and fortune. Studying the greats such as KRS-One, Rakim and Kool G Rap, Rah Digga soon became the hottest commodity out of Newark working with hip hop groups Twice the Flavor and The Outsidaz before landing a feature on the track “Cowboys” from the Fugees album ‘The Score’. Her star continued to rise when a chance spotting by legendary Q-Tip at the Lyricist Lounge lead her to meet Busta Rhymes and joining his infamous hip hop crew Flipmode Squad saw Rah Digga secure her spot as one of the hottest female mc’s in the game. Touring the world with Flipmode and learning the innards of the hip hop industry under the veteran tutelage of Busta Rhymes saw Rah Digga evolve into her own artistry with quickend pace.
Releasing her debut solo album ‘ Dirty Harriet’ in 2000 saw Rah Digga cement her career as raps leading lady and opened the door for the female presence in Hip Hop to reign supreme as in the days of Queen Latifah and MC Lyte. She went on to collaborate with the likes of Eve and also worked with the legendary Bahamadia on the track “ Be Ok “ from Lyricist Lounge Vol 1, which made them the two leading female MC’s of the LL movement, which also included stand out artists Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Common to name a few. Rah Digga has remained now and she was back then an artist who spits from the heart, goes for the jugular and takes no prisoners in life and in hip hop and it has been that fierce tenacity that has kept her a firm favourite with old school hip heads for years. With subsequent album releases and single features over the last few years including her 2010 album “Classic” Rah Digga has gone down the independent artist route, releasing her music her way through Soundcloud, Bandcamp and ITunes. She has flirted with the acting world starring in the 2001 movie “Thirteen Ghosts” and appeared on the soundtrack on the track ‘Mirror Mirror’ and also appeared in MTV’s Carmen: A Hip Hopera alongside Joy Bryant and Beyonce in the same year.
For Rah Digga, Hip Hop has always been her teacher and is a subject she never tires of learning from. Donning the teachers hat in recent years herself, hip hop has led her to teach its lessons to students in her hometown of Newark and it is proving to be a gift that keeps on giving. As she looks back with pride at a career that has made her one of the vanguards of the genre she also realises that much more work needs to be done by the mature hip hop community to continue making music and spitting rhymes of authenticity and to not get swallowed up by the material world hip hop has delved into of late. She is a straight shooting, real and respected woman in hip hop who has never been afraid to tell it like it is. If you can’t take the heat, get ya ass away from Rah Digga!
Such an honor to speak to you Rah – how are you and how is life treating you?
Oh man thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate your interest. I’m doing real good, busy and blessed. I am teaching hip hop history classes at the moment at our community school campus in Newark NJ and it has opened up a whole new world for me let me tell you ( laughs). Girl I thought I would just be standing up in front of kids and talking on hip hop but oh no I am in full teacher mode, running around the city securing excursions, marking essays, buying craft supplies, you name it ( laughs). It has truly been an experience and one I am loving, reaching the younger generation who may not know who I am and my role in hip hop, but there parents do and that in itself is a treat for me as the parents seem more excited at the end of class that the kids do ( laughs). So yeah I am busy and loving the educational path I hip hop my life has taken for now.
Your career and journey in hip hop is long and very deep, given your collaborations with Flipmode Squad for many years and working with so many greats like Q-Tip, Bahamadia and Eve to mention a few. Your contribution to hip hop and especially the female canvas over these years Rah has been so integral and necessary to the shaping of women’s roles in hip hop I believe….. what do you see when you look back over your career of the role you have played as a strong female in hip hop and how do think women have cultivated their roles in this genre over the years?
It wasn’t no easy feat being the only girl in that group let me tell you (laughs) but I had my Jersey crew to prepare me for that crazy nonsense so I came prepared (laughs). You know they taught me a lot about how to deal with hip hop and the touring and record label side of things so I am really grateful for that. Busta, with all of his years of experience and being the veteran that he is, took me under his wing and just taught me so much about the music side of this game. I came into Flipmode pretty confident and cocky as far as my rhymes and flow and general body of work you know, but when it came to how to deal with the press and the public and the whole spotlight in general I was real wet behind the ears. So Busta who was already a well-seasoned rap star at that time taught me how to transcend to become a worldly artist more than just a neighbourhood spitter so I am really grateful for his mentorship.
Who would you say is your greatest influence / inspiration in your musical journey thus far and why?
My all-time inspiration right now has to be Jay Z. I say that because I’m not aspiring to have that lifestyle or anything material like that, I just look at Jay and he just seems to get better with age in everything he does you know. He is the type of artist that I aspire to be, you know there are so many artists out there who fall off as they get older , get rusty, they lose touch with everything that made them become the artists they did and I don’t want to be like that at all. I just feel that Jay Z as an artist embodies the ethics of never slipping on his hard work hustle you know, and for me as a mature hip hop artist today, that’s what I can relate to. You know I feel as I get older that my bars and rhymes are getting better with age, my wordplay is still sharp you know ( laughs) so I just saying if anyone wants to step to Rah I will rag tag that ass girl I don’t play ( laughs).
You have three albums, countless singles, movies, nominations and awards on your mantel. What are you currently working on at the moment and how do you maintain your authenticity and consistency in a music genre that is constantly evolving in artistry, direction and above all sound?
Honestly … because I still spend a lot of time in the hood. My hood. I think that is the key to evert artist being grounded. You know it’s a shame that for most artists they lose sight of the hood that birthed them and very often never go back, I understand for some it’s not all that safe too these days, but still for the most part a lot just lose touch with their hoods and that’s a loss for them. I have always been tethered to my home town throughout my own journey and I am always greeted with love and admiration and I think just constantly been reminded why I still rhyme the way I rhyme and I can still relate to that passion because I am so connected to my roots. I think for those that don’t have that hood connection it may be a disadvantage to their artistry in a way because the authenticity of they started has been forgotten in a way, feel me. I mean I can go and sit in the same room that I wrote Dirty Harriet in and still feel my connectivity to the time, place and vibes and flashbacks you know. That spirit is still there and that’s what reflects in my music. I always recommend to any artist to spend time in their home town before they start work on an album as I believe that will serve as a reminder of the artist you were to the artist you have become and that I believe aids in the development of their musical evolution. Don’t worry about relevance too much, just be yourself and spit from an honest place.
The best piece of advice you could give to your younger self today, knowing what you know about the hip hop game and your longevity?
I would tell a young Rah Digga to keep them bars sharp. No matter what metamorphosis in the music industry during your career it’s always going to boil down to your lyrics. No matter how the industry wants to downplay the importance of bars, we see it time and time again where you could be on the top of the world with the most money, most fame and when you are put to the test and you don’t have them bars ready it will all go away just like that. So I tell everybody coming up in the game bars bars bars – they might not make you rich and famous but they will keep you working forever and forever!
For more information on Rah Digga visit:
Always Hip Hop