Princess Nokia and Scottie Beam have a lot in common. Unbeknownst to them, it has nothing to do with the Mario Badescu rosewater they use or their layered appreciation for hip-hop and rap. It’s The North Face copper 1996 Nuptse Jacket both women wear on stage during their conversation at the brand’s Brooklyn, NY store. Known for enhancing properties, copper takes a spiritual role as a conductor in the exchange of energies between the women.
Working in a complicated music industry hasn’t forced them to adapt to the ways of the world around them. Instead, Nokia and Scottie decide to make the mission of womanhood and blackness their carbon footprint.
Those elements and many more flood their conversation at The North Face Prototype store last week, where Scottie (co-host of Black Girl Podcast and Revolt’s State of The Culture) hosted a talk with Nokia, who partnered with the brand for their campaign, The New Explorers, an ode to those who inspire the spirit of curiosity. Their convo was anything but surface level. Tales of doubt, free will and growth led the discussion, which Nokia, an artist and poet who transcended genres with her gothic-metal A Girl Cried Red project this year, knew all too well.
“I had a misconception of hip-hop and rap with my writing style,” she said of her early days under the moniker Wavy Spice. “I had been introduced to rapping in a way where women and people did it, it was structured. It had this very very political structure to it and if you didn't follow the structure, you weren't considered validated or real and that just gave me anxiety. I couldn't rap, I couldn't freestyle and I wasn't comfortable rapping or certain things of that nature. So this time around, I really wanted to change that and I realized that doubts are an illusion. I saw that the art was in the simplicity of what I was writing and it didn't have to rhyme, it didn't have to have double entendres.”
With constant gratitude for our African ancestors, the Bruja had her best year yet with a tantalizing set at Coachella, the aforementioned goth mixtape and completed a sold-out 1992 Deluxe World tour. For Scottie, the verbal warrior has worked hard in 2018 to make sure black and brown women are seen on a variety of platforms. This includes her work with BGP and State of The Union. “I've learned that transitioning is real,” she said of her year. “It's heavy and I think this was my biggest transition year in terms of becoming a woman and stepping into womanhood, facing acceptance and feeling seen.”
In addition to the exchange of stories about their spiritual journeys, they also opened up to the audience, something rarely seen in industry events. Nokia, a proud Afro-Latina, shares literature like In The Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran with a biracial butterfly looking for more inspiration around her racial identity. Meanwhile, Scottie takes on a question about colorism, telling the black men in the room to take accountability for assisting in the problematic battle of light skin/dark skin preferences.
Just before the creatives took the stage, VIBE chatted with them about their organic connection to the brand, lessons learned in 2018 and the beauty of womanhood.
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I am still getting beautiful stories & compliments from the dialogue I had with my soul sister @princessnokia! Thanks to @thenorthface, I got to speak to Destiny about intersectional Feminism, spirituality, colorism, experimenting with old and new music & more. Destiny is the light that we need in music. Her wisdom speaks volumes about the woman she is becoming. I am so happy people got to see a preview of that on this day. Thank you for being so open and honest with me @princessnokia. 📸: @raptographer
As New Yorkers, we all have a definitive North Face moment. What are yours?
Scottie Beam: I would say the fanny pack was huge during my era–
Princess Nokia: My sister had one too, and I wanted it!
SB: That was a moment, that was my bookbag.
Me too, me too! I remember it made my butt look big.
SB: I don't remember the name of the coat but it had the pockets this way [high pockets]. I don't remember the name of the style, but that was my s**t, it had a belt too.
PN: It's a little different for me. I actually didn't own any North Face until I was 18 and the first one I had was a gorgeous Blue Extreme and I loved it. Me and my ex-boyfriend we wrote a song called "Sleep Tech" and that was my North Face moment [Laughs].
How was it to hear North Face wanted you both for The New Explorers campaign?
SB: It was an amazing opportunity. They know I'm super transparent. I think that's why they called me because they knew I'd have a real conversation with Princess Nokia because I've watched her since the beginning when I was at Hot 97. I think it's very important because it's going to be a good conversation and we won’t censor anything.
PN: I model a lot and I'm very fortunate and blessed to be able to do as many partnerships I do for an underground musician such as myself. I gotta say I thought it was super dope they hit me since it's super New York and super nostalgic to my childhood. So I just felt super cool about it since I'm a New York girl.
So "Never stop exploring" is the mantra. What's something you've learned about yourself this year?
PN: I've learned nothing can ever break me. I truly have a lot of faith in the universe even when I'm down, I'm always good.
SB: I've learned that transitioning is real. It's heavy and I think this was my biggest transition year in terms of becoming a woman and stepping into womanhood, facing acceptance and feeling seen. I think that was a big, big thing for me this year. It was problematic, but it was helpful.
How would you define your 2018?
PN: A lot of work, a lot of traveling, a lot of blessings and always having fun and doing something for me. I did Coachella this year and I'm not even signed to a 360! Someone said I f**ked someone to get there. I said, "Oh my god, I wish that was true. I'd love to talk to about it." I'm so crazy, you would've known it.
I'm oblivious, I'm not into politics in hip-hop. I'm so outside of it and don't listen to what people say so when I actually heard someone say they were so upset I did Coachella, I thought, “Wow, I never thought people would think that.” I thought it was so funny so I had to tell myself, “Girl, don't be so oblivious.” I wanted to tell her that I played another festival and got booked by the people who put together Coachella and I was the breakout performance of the night so the next day they invited me a year early to play Coachella.
SB: But you deserved to be there.
I saw you at Day for Night last year and you killed it.
PN: I did perform there. Can you imagine if I was f**king that Republican? Oh my gosh. [Laughs.]
SB: I would say a lot. Period. I increased my therapy because the show was a lot, but it was good because I got more exposure by speaking to black women and speaking to more dark skin women and underrepresented groups. It really helped but it did hurt since I didn't know how many people were oblivious to certain social issues and that drove me up a f**king wall. But it's growing pains, and as someone who is super passionate, it was a lot.
Learn more about The North Face’s Copper collection here.