Rapper, actress, and new found media personality Da Brat has expanded her career to both radio and television host with Dish Nation and The Rickey Smiley Show family down in Atlanta. The platinum selling artist has been in the public eye since the 90s when she was catapulted into fame from of her string of hit records and acting roles.
Though, her well publicized stint in prison pumped the brakes on her career for a while, she’s back in the entertainment business with full force. The feisty tomboy, known for her bracing personality and innovative rhymes, is here to stay with her new gig. Fans may not know that Da Brat began her journey with The Rickey Smiley Morning Show as a guest, and later turned that into a permanent position. Syndicated in over 65 markets, the program has brought Da Brat to a happy place in life.
“There are a lot of artists that fell off and no one cares about where they are, or what they’re doing so I am blessed in a major way,” said Da Brat. The new Dish Nation radio and TV host spoke with VIBE and gave some insight on her transition of jobs, the ups and downs within her career — as well as her savvy opinions on some trending topics.
Did you ever in a million years think you would become a radio host, let alone a television host, with such a huge network?
Da Brat: Nope, but every time I went to do radio I loved it. Like 20 years ago people would say ‘you should do radio, you should do radio, have you ever thought about doing radio?’ I always said no, but it just came natural every time I went on, with whomever, at whatever station! I would always take over and ask them questions because it was fun for me. I just didn’t think that I would be doing it later down the line. But it came so easy. It’s just like performance, so it comes very natural. I love it, though. It’s just a different platform…a huge platform. I’m grateful for the opportunity and for people to still see my face. To still be heard, and to still have the chops to talk amongst my peers, and have people interested in what I have to say.
There are a lot of artists that fell off, and no one cares about where they are, or what they’re doing so I am blessed in a major way. God is great!
From the moment you began filling in during The Rickey Smiley Morning Show, were you nervous about how his audience would perceive you?
No, I was never nervous. I’ve always fought very hard to be who I am, and that’s what made me different than any other female rapper because I would not conform to be what they wanted me to be.
I just want to be happy and let the world know who I am, and whatever happens,happens…who wants to be uncomfortable? I’ve been a brat all of my life, and I’ve always wanted to do things my way, because that’s what works best with me. I’m true to myself… but back to your question, I wasn’t nervous at all because I’ve wanted the world to know that I am not just a one-sided person. I’m not just a female rapper, I am a woman, I like cooking, I like cleaning, I love dogs, I grew up in a sanctified church, I love God. I might cuss, drink, smoke, whatever, but it doesn’t change my heart.
People get it confused when they try to put you in a box. We all have different sides, we don’t just love rap. I love giving my opinion and talking about things. This radio/TV thing has been a blessing. I felt like I was born to do it.
Walk us through a day at work? Do you have to conduct a lot of research? Or do you show up in the morning and let it flow?
I get up at 3am because I live in the country, an hour and a half away from Atlanta. I like driving to work, that’s when I get my peace. My car is my office, I do my phone calls, etc. But I get to work around 5:30/ 5:45. I put on my make up, gotta line the lips, gotta have some lip stick [laughs].
How different is it having a regular J-O-B compared to performing at shows, etc?
I actually like it a lot. Unfortunately, but fortunately I had a little bit of training during the last part of my prison sentence;I had the work release program. I had to work at a window company. I loved getting up and going out and working…I guess it was the structure of it. So I kind of had some training [laughs].
Going through things like that makes you appreciate life a lot more. Had I not went to jail I may not be alive. My temper was really awful. I would like to move forward from that like Robert Downey Jr. did, no one cares’ about what he did any more [laughs]!
For the TV segment, are you in full control of your look?
Oh yeah, nobody controls that; I don’t have a stylist…people say I need one, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. When I feel like getting one, I’ll get one, if I want a different look or a different opinion I’ll get one…because I can do that. I don’t feel like I need one right now. I know what I like, and I know what I don’t like. I know how to dress, and I know how to pick out my own clothes, I’m a grown a** woman. I know what looks good on me and what doesn’t. I see a lot of kids out here conforming because that’s what’s poppin’ right now, but I think its very important to stay true to yourself.
What type of perspective do you bring to the table in reference to entertainment news? Would you consider yourself to be funny, honest, or passive?
I’m not the passive one. I state my opinion but at the same timeI try to be careful because sometimes they go deep off into the gossip lane…and I’ll bring it back. I don’t want to be the one asking the gossipy questions. I’m there because I can relate, I’m not the one that’s stirring up shit. If somebody is wrong in the room, I’ll tell them they’re wrong. We go back and forth and the listeners love it. It’s real.
Lets get your opinion on a few trending topics right now. What do you think about the Oscar Nominations, and the controversy of Black actors and actresses not receiving the proper credit they deserve in film?
I love Jada and Will. Will is an amazing actor, but there are so many more important things in the world going on right now, that the Oscars are not my concern. I do think Aunt Viv (Janet Hubert) was a little bit harsh with the statement she made; her point would’ve come across better without the attitude. Had she addressed it different she would’ve gotten further, I think…
I think Will was great in Concussion. I think Idris Elba deserves one too, and I also think Wiz Khalifa should’ve gotten something for the Furious 7 track about Paul Walker “See You Again,” to me that was a snub. If “Hard out Here for A Pimp” could’ve won, then that could’ve too. So I understand where Jada is coming from, but I think FLINT right now, is more important than anything.
What do you think about Meek Mill getting at 50 Cent on the record “Gave Em Hope” and then later surrendering on Social Media, after 50 would not stop with the memes?
That’s another hard one, you are asking me some hard questions [laughs]. 50 is not the man you wanna go up against in a rap beef, and he made that clear with the whole Ja Rule situation, so you already know he’s going to murder you!
What female rappers are you feeling in the game right now?
I’m still in love with everybody from Kim, to Foxy, to Eve to Missy, to Trina, etc… those are all of my girls because we came up together. I also love Nicki Minaj and Dej Loaf. I think Nicki is sick with the lyrics, and that’s what I love about rappers. I’m a lyricist myself, and I like when lyrics have meaning and you’re actually saying something not ‘model rhyming with bottle,’ I can’t get into that. I like Dej Loaf for her melodies, and I love her style.She reminds me of myself. People say Iggy sounds like me but I never thought Iggy sounded like me. Regardless of what people may say, I love Nicki, she has paved the way for newcomers the same way that we paved the way for her and others.
Now, that we’ve gotten your opinion on the what’s going on in entertainment news, can we expect any new music?
I am an all around entertainer , and I’m never giving up my music. My music is my passion; I just have different platforms now to promote my stuff, which I’m so grateful for Ricky Smiley for even giving me an opportunity to be on his morning show, which was already established, and already syndicated with millions of viewers.
I ‘m always working! I just did a song yesterday with a girl from the UK. I’m working with Jermaine Dupri all of the time, and I got a track from Pharrell. I’m forever writing for somebody else, a lot of ghost writing. I just put out a song called “You Already Know” hashtag #YAK, it’s myself produced by Sage the Gemini also featuring him, and Eric Belliinger is singing the hook. I am very proud of it, it’s my baby! You can download it on iTunes.
What do you plan to gain from this new venture with Dish Nation? How far do you want to take this fragment of your career?
All I want to do is be myself, some people are going to love that and some people are going to hate that. I just want to stay true to myself. It does my heart good to make other people happy, If I can talk to you through your radio, or when you see me on TV that’s all I want to do, even if you want to talk sh*t about me, if that makes your day, then I’ve done my job. I want people to know every side of me. I’m not just a female rapper who used to smoke weed, then got locked up… people love to point out all of the bad things. I’m Da Brat, I am who I am and I don’t want to be stuck in a box.