Wild & Free: Nitty Scott’s New Outlook On Feminism And Wanting To Reach New Fans
Nitty Scott, MC is a combination of sexy, intelligent, and talented. It’s not everyday that you find all three qualities wrapped into one woman, but you can say that the multi-dimensional appeal has always been a part of her story.
Michigan born, Florida bred, New York remixed, Nitty Scott soaked in the various cultures she was exposed to throughout her coming-of-age. And although the backdrop might have changed a few times, her home life remained firmly rooted in her family’s heritage.
Growing up as an Afro-Boricua, this femme fatale experienced the best of both worlds, describing the soundtrack to her environment as a mix of “Latin and soul vibes.” Nitty was raised on the sounds of Celia Cruz and La India, as well as Billie Holiday and Marvin Gaye, respective influences of her mother and father that really helped shape her own identity as a musician.
“One really good thing that I took from both of those influences is the timelessness. A lot of those records they were playing me spoke to the times that they were created in [and] spoke to me then and can still speak to me now,” says Nitty. “I always liked that me and my parents were listening to music that we could both connect with. It was music that transcends, artists where you can relate to what they’re talking about at any point in history. My parents laid down the groundwork for that. It inspired me to make music to connect with people on that level, that isn’t just for a particular corner of the world or lifestyle, but music that can speak to everyone on a human level.”
Albeit the days of listening to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes with her dad are long gone, Nitty keeps her off-kilter upbringing close to her heart and reflects that in her career. After breaking through in 2010, she continues to deliver her jaw-dropping bars and poetic stories of women empowerment, self-discovery, and love, all with a Latinegra flare.
On the heels of her upcoming project CREATURE!, Nitty sat down with VIBE Viva about her latest music and its journey through her past, which ultimately resulted in her evolution as a woman and creative.
“It’s a blend of the old and the new,” she explains. “It’s the same as having those parts of me that never go anywhere, but still continuing to grow and add to my ideas. That’s what this is. It’s building on the foundation of what already is.”
VIBE Viva: You have a pretty diverse background, what was it like growing up for you?
Nitty Scott, MC: I like to say that I was born in Michigan, made in Florida, and paid in New York. Growing up, it was kind of difficult for me because I felt like I had to have loyalty to a certain region or hood. It was kind of this identity thing, where I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere specifically. I didn’t have a stable childhood, but when I realized that it just makes me a diverse person and it enables me to speak to several walks of life instead of just one, that’s when I started to embrace it and thought that it was dope that in being successful, there are so many different communities that are being put on and getting a voice, whether it’s Florida hip-hop, the Brooklyn scene, Afro-Latinas, or young people in general. There are all these different categories I fall under and I think it’s dope that I can represent them all.
You broke out in 2010. Who was Nitty Scott then and who is Nitty Scott now? In what ways have you evolved?
A lot of things have changed, but the main one is my world view and a lot of the ideas that I hold true. I’ve become less rigid. I was borderline one of those people who’s so conscious and aware that it becomes a little bit elitist and self righteous. And I checked myself on that, where I felt like I didn’t want to a be a condescending individual and I opened myself up to different perspectives. And once that happened, a lot of the things that I would put out, I immediately saw that some of those messages were problematic. For example, feeling like I always had to choose between being fun and sexy versus some one who is intelligent and conservative. As a woman, I always felt like those were my choices and either you’re a prude and your stuck up or you’re a “thot” and you’re using your sexuality to get ahead. That internalized misogyny showed itself in a lot of my work. I’m guilty of putting down women simply because they didn’t carry themselves the same way I did, but that was a result of being trained that there’s a certain idea of a woman that means that you can respect her. And now in my true adulthood, I realize that’s not true. Every woman deserves respect because of her humanity. So I have embraced this new idea of feminism of not telling women they have to be one or the other, but to exercise their choice and deserve to be respected regardless of what it is.
Even some of my ideas about going mainstream [have changed]. I was always team underground, team independent and I still am, but I think that sometimes you’re message can be something that really needs to be heard and because of that you need to do things that reaches the most amount of people. I had this epiphany where I don’t want to short-change myself. I used to think that I’ll just say what I have to say and if I become a star, so be it, if I don’t you can still catch me at the Nuyorican Cafe. But I want more and I think it’s okay to say that you don’t want to stop at just having respect, but you want to be able to leave a legacy for yourself. Sometimes you have to appeal to people from where they are to get them to where they need to be. I think my talent and my message is worth trying to make it as big as possible.
Can you talk about the CREATURE! album’s inspiration?
The CREATURE! album was inspired by wanting to bust out of this box that was created for me. It’s a celebration of my intersecting identity, all these different things that add up to me. It’s about being wild and free. It’s being undefinable and free from the idea of what a female should be, what a black girl should be, or what a Latina should be. All of these labels are so full of responsibility and pressure that I no longer want to live up to. I want to be a creature. I want to be contradicting, wild, uninhibited. That’s what I did with the music. It’s a politically aware album and it’s fun as well, which is the perfect medium. I get to show people that I can discuss the impact of a feminist movement like Pussy Riot and still twerk on my couch, and that’s okay. I want to show that dimension that I have and that a lot of women that inspired me have. It’s a daring album. It’s a tapestry of moods. I sampled a lot of my favorite records on there, so a lot of them have a special connection where this record got me through a particular time and now I’m taking it apart and telling my story on it. There’s a little bit of rock elements, EDM, tribal sounds. It’s me changing the idea of what a Nitty Scott record can sound like.
What singles really stand out to you or did you have fun producing?
I have a record called “Negrita.” That one is really dope; it’s fun and rude. It’s about being Afro-Latina. It’s celebrating that fusion. It’s a nickname that my mother always called me. It’s this cute term of endearment in the Latina community. And another record called “BBYGIRL” is kind of like a feminist anthem. That one is another favorite record of mine.”
Can you talk about the process of blending the new and the old elements together on CREATURE!?
It’s about creating something that can speak to more people whether it’s bigger hooks, cool concepts, but always giving you rap. I know that’s what people love; that’s my strong point. In every record I tried to find that marriage and make sure that you’re getting that skill that always stood out, but also moving away from being so technical that you can’t just vibe out. For my hip-hop nerds that are going to dissect everything, I’m talking about things and there’s substance and wordplay. And for the people who can care less about what I’m talking about, there’s a fun hook in there for you to twerk to.
Now that you’ve had you’re own self-discovery, do you feel that you have a responsibility to address empowerment and political issues in your music?
Absolutely. The way that society has their stigmas, it’s very important for me to speak on those things. When I get backlash about changing, it makes me feel like people may have never understood me at all because if you know me and listen to me, then all of my previous work, whatever the message was, it was still me saying that there’s a cause, I believe in it, I’m going to talk about it. So when that cause changes, why wouldn’t I do the same? It’s within my personality.
Have you seen Chi-Raq?
I haven’t seen it, but I’ve seen the backlash and Chance the Rapper’s tweets about it the other day.
What are your thoughts on women abstaining from sex as a means to stop murders?
I saw both sides to what was going on and I can’t judge the film itself because I haven’t seen it, but I think it’s a good thing that what has happened and what is happening in Chicago is being given this platform and it’s being discussed on a larger level. But from what I understand, the essence of what’s really happening isn’t captured. But I think [the concept] is pussy power. I think it’s an interesting concept to say that we’re not going to give you that if you don’t think in a way that preserves life. It seems like it would be very effective. There’s nothing like a woman to a man.
Where do you see your career going in the future?
Within the next five years, I hope to become a more established artist, some one who might be considered a mainstream success, enough to have a couple of albums under my belt, potentially through a major [label], world tours, endorsements. Things of that nature that really legitimize the [saying] ‘Mom, I’m going to be a rapper.’ Beyond that, I definitely see myself expanding to other mediums in entertainment, acting. I was cast in two, independent films. I tried my hand at it, and I really love and I would love to master the craft more. I have this weird thing about wanting to be a Cover Girl. I think it’s very important that a girl like me can be a Cover Girl.
But I want the Grammys, I want the AMAs, I want the moon men. And after that is give back time, what I really want to ultimately do. I know that I have to do certain things to put me in that position to do that. I want to do a lot of humanitarian work, build schools in Africa, have a center where LGBT, homeless youth can go because that’s something that affected me. I want to be successful to make sure my mom doesn’t have to worry about anything ever again and to use that influence to make the world a better place.