Right about now, Rah Digga, the "female" MC and only woman in Busta Rhymes' renowned Flip Mode Squad, has given new meaning to the phrase "female MC."
"She's the chick everybody wants in their clique because her skills speak for themselves," says Busta Rhymes. "I don't believe there's a female out there now who can touch her. While every clique has their token female member, Rah Digga has established herself as a true leader among MCs."
Although the buzz on Rah Digga has reached deafening levels, she has earned her newfound place behind hip-hop's velvet ropes just like a veteran. One joint at a time. Her cameo on The Fugee's, "Cowboys," was just the beginning. Next she appeared on "Lyricist's Lounge: Volume One" on a hot duet with Bahamadia. Then she came through on the Flip Mode's "Imperial" album, - some even crediting her with its Gold status. Then, Busta let her loose on that "Cha Cha Cha" joint...
Press and heads everywhere were wondering where did she come from? And how did she get so tight?
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Rashiya Fisher actually describes her coming up as "fun." No, her father didn't leave. Neither did her mother. In fact, they are still married. No, she doesn't come from a long line of musicians.
Everyone in her family has a degree. An advanced one at that. No, she didn't drop out of school, or get kicked out. She actually went away to a private boarding school in Maryland (a la "The Facts of Life.") where she excelled in Math and Science. Once she graduated, she went to study electrical engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
Not your typical "keep it real, straight from the streets" hip hop drama.
Her skills tell the real story. She explains, "I think my voice alone comes off as rugged. My voice plays a big part in my being accepted as a real MC. I'm a punch line MC. I'm not body baggin' or committing crimes in my rhymes, but I am still considered hard core."
Her early days as a member of Twice The Flavor and esteemed membership in the all-male Jersey born Da Outsidaz clique (of which Eminem is a member), gave her a solid start. Her bold and unforgettable performance at New York's Lyricist's Lounge, during her 8th month of pregnancy, is what inspired Q-Tip to bring her to Elektra and let Busta Rhymes get a listen.
The rest has been her story. She says proudly of her hip hop lineage, "I consider Q-Tip my birth parent and Busta is my foster father raising me."
Both must be very proud.
Rah's sensuous beauty, hard-edged voice, forceful delivery and take-no-prisoners approach is a culmination of the many females that have come before her. Her power, sex appeal, rawness and pure presence make her hip-hop's every woman.
But it just may be her serious side that makes "Dirty Harriet," her much-anticipated debut album so compelling. As she blesses her legion of fans with her trademark force and fly rhymes, she gives them food for thought. She says laughing, "Even when I try to make fun lovin' party stuff, it comes out serious." Her album title is one of those serious moments. The name, although a seemingly obvious play on "Dirty Harry," is actually a reference to Harriet Tubman. Rah explains, "The reason I named it that is because Harriet Tubman basically led people to freedom. Rah Digga is paving the way and leading a new species of female MCs to just feel confident enough to come with raw rhymes and not have to worry about exploiting themselves sexually to succeed."
The absence of sexually explicit lyrics show that Rah Digga is not following in anyone's footsteps - she is creating her own. She describes her album as being as multi-faceted as she is. "I can't categorize the album as having a particular sound. I don't think any one song sounds like another. Every song has its own vibe."
The album produced mostly by The Teamsters, who have worked substantially with Busta, boasts varied and unique beats with ill accents like violins (Tight) and a track made with the sound of a sneeze (Straight Spitten). Guest producers include Premier, Busta, Mr. Walt, DJ Scratch, DJ Shock (Ruff Ryders), Rockweiller and Dave Atkinson.
From those capable hands comes an album packed with old school type joints that show Rah's Che Digga style. Joints like the album's skill-laced opener "Tight." "Showdown," lets her brag a little more, while "What they Call Me" and "Do The Ladies" (featuring Eve and Sonja Blade) are party starters. "Straight Spitten" and "Fuck Y'all Niggaz" puts you up close and personal with Rah's aggressive side. Of the crowd pleaser, "What They Call Me," she says, "this is my letting the world know that I am the Hip Hop B-girl original."
And like the true original that she is, Rah was hell bent on ruling her debut like the queen that she is. Her album is pleasingly light on guest appearances, especially with Busta Rhymes. He appears only on the acclaimed, "Imperial." She says of her decision to do the majority of her album without much assist, "I purposely planned to not use him excessively. I noticed from the Flip Mode album, it was always `Busta Rhymes and the Flip Mode Squad' - no one had their own identity. But when I got the beat for "Imperial," he said to me, `I gotta be on that beat.'"
But, Rah Digga is not only bringing the rah rah. She can flip it and she does with the profound "Brother, Brother," a personal and painful look at the fate of Black men. She describes the personal track by saying, "It's the story of me being a little sister and having three brothers. One brother is good, but wigs out and gets locked up . The second gets killed and the third one is just the bad brother, who nothing happens to. Everyone can relate to it because they have someone in their life who fits one or all three of these categories." Ironically, the song is not about her own experience as she was an only child. However, the song speaks about men that she has known and loved and adopted as her own brothers. She says, "The first verse was inspired by a friend of mine who just snapped on the job and stabbed his co-worker. The second verse is about (the late MC) Slang Ton, and the third verse is inspired by the people who really do lead bad lives and get away with it."
Rah Digga is truly hip-hop's new leader. She is taking the gender out of the game and putting skills back in. She is a woman who makes women proud and men try harder. She is "Dirty Harriet." And, just as the ancestors had to trust that freedom was possible when Harriet Tubman led the way, Rah Digga brings the same message to women too often tempted by the trap of exploitation. Says Rah, "Be a leader. You don't have to fit in to be the bomb. You can be you and you will gather followers."
Spoken like a true revolutionary.