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Rah Digga Delivers a ‘Classic’

Johnny Nunez, WireImage

After more than a decade since releasing her debut album ‘Dirty Harriet,’ Rah Digga is ready for round two. The self-proclaimed “Harriet Thugman of Rap” has seen the heights of fame and success as both a solo artist and as the sole female member of Busta RhymesFlipmode Squad. However, the rapper became a victim of industry politics after her former label J Records shelved her album. Now, after parting ways with Bussa Buss and running off to Cali for a few years, the Jersey native is back with her official sophomore follow-up, ‘Classic.’

The album, slated for a September release on Raw Concept Records, is quick and ferocious, clocking in at just 10 tracks of gritty, boom bap beats paired with Digga’s rugged rhymes. And while the title ‘Classic’ could be considered an audacious move after years of silence, she couldn’t help but give the album a title that it deserves.

“I named it that because to me, it’s classic hip-hop at its finest, what everybody misses and what everybody claims they wish they heard more of,” she told The BoomBox. “It’s just straight raw rhymes, raw beats, not saturated with guest appearances–it’s just authentic hip-hop.”For the release, Digga linked up with Virginia producer Nottz, who supplied almost half the beats on her 1999 debut. Opting to spit exclusively over Nottz’ production, Rah ended up with a handful of beats that were cherry-picked by an A&R at her label, with Digga recording her vocals to the instrumentals and sending them via e-mail to her production counterpart. Before she knew it, she had 10 songs in the can and her official sophomore album on the way.

“He’s a raw talent. He definitely gives you that old soul vibe,” she explains of Nottz, who has provided beats to artists like Snoop Dogg, Rakim, Asher Roth, Kanye West and more. “His beats are real hard and real funky and that’s one of the things I loved about him in the first place. He makes the dope, classic, underground raw sound that people love, but he also can make very orchestrated, very musical production. He can give me that classic hip-hop sound without it sounding dated.”

‘Classic’ is a long time coming for Digga, whose previously intended sophomore release, ‘Everything is a Story,’ was squashed after her situation with Flipmode and J Records fell apart. Leaked to the Internet a few years later, the album was much shinier than its gritty predecessor, packed with guest appearances from artists like P!nk and Mary J. Blige and a spread of production from various producers. The album was far from cohesive, playing like a bid for mainstream from an artist who was hip-hop at heart.

“You have J Records to thank for that,” Rah says with a laugh. “When you’re with a label, they want this guest appearance, that guest appearance. It just turns into a hodgepodge of whatever’s current at that time. To me, that doesn’t represent timeless music. So ['Classic'] is definitely that.”

With ‘Classic’ on track for a mid-September release, Digga doesn’t plan on making the game wait another decade for a follow-up. In fact, she plans on releasing a free mixtape through 2DopeBoyz.com consisting of tracks produced by Nottz as well as an EP of songs produced by S1, Pete Rock, RZA and J Dilla. And she’s also just begun work on a full-length collaboration album with an unnamed female emcee that she thinks the “hip-hop purists are going to love.”

But for now, Digga’s focusing on ‘Classic,’ confident that it will satisfy those who have waited patiently for some new Rah rap. “It’s definitely an album that [fans] can appreciate and has that classic ’90s hip-hop that everybody misses or you just don’t really get to hear on a mainstream level,” she explains. “And this album, if it achieves mainstream success, I’m all for it. But I’m not compromising my sound or my style to do it on purpose.”

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