They say chivalry is dead, and Rah Digga has learned the hard way that ladies don’t always come first. As the sole female in the New Jersey collective Tha Outsidaz and Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad, Digga Digga (birth name Rashia) has never stopped fighting for her spot at the top. After her debut album, Dirty Harriet, fizzled and her label, Elektra, merged with Atlantic, Digga was set to release her follow-up, Everything Is A Story, on J Records in 2004. But after Busta unexpectedly left J for Dr. Dre’s Aftermath, Digga was left without a label.
After flirting with the idea of releasing her new album, I’m Sucker Free, through Koch, she has decided to stay in the studio while she surveys other major label possibilities. With a new mixtape with longtime “hubby” Young Zee on the way, Digga is taking her unreleased music straight to the fans, making it available for purchase at her new website rahdiggamusic.com. Fresh off her return to the spotlight in the “Touch It (Remix)” video, Digga spoke with XXLMAG.COM about controlling her own destiny, getting money from the Fugees, and how her deal on Koch wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
What’s your label situation right now?
I’m actually on the fence right now. I got a couple of situations and I’m looking at possibly signing to the Aftermath team. But, honestly, I’m undecided. I feel like I’d rather be a free agent than go through another botched deal situation. I got other avenues that I’m exploring before I rush into a [major label] situation. I don’t need to rush on a label and get some little $50,000 advance and then sit for a year waitin’ for the album to drop.
What ever happened to releasing an album on Koch?
Well, I was going to do a Koch thing. Dipset was all singing about the big $7 an album and I’m like, Let’s see what’s good with that. I wanted to try to slip one of those out before I joined the major label circuit, but I came to find out that it’s not as cut-and-dry as getting $7 an album. So, after a careful evaluation, it sounded like a waste of time, so I passed.
Your album was supposed to come out on J Records around the time that Busta announced he was leaving the label for Aftermath. That must have made things difficult for you…
Well, basically the situation had started deteriorating with Busta and J, so Busta had come to the conclusion that he wasn’t putting any more albums out on J Records. He started quietly talking to Aftermath. At some point it was solidified that he was going to make that move, but I was still in the process of putting out my album. He was trying to keep it under wraps [until] my album was released, but they caught wind of that. They were like, Well, if we not gonna have the captain of the team here, then we don’t want to play with the team. It’s unfair that the artist underneath the captain always ends up getting the short end of the stick. But I actually wasn’t upset by it because I wasn’t happy about how things were working out at J Records. I wasn’t even happy about signing on to J Records in the first place. I was just pissed off that it got to the point where the album was getting written up in the magazines. I was once again getting people’s hopes up that Rah Digga was droppin’ another album, but then it didn’t happen.
When Busta went over to Aftermath, did you ever have a discussion with him about your deal?
For a brief moment it was every man for himself. Busta’s situation wasn’t all the way solidified with Aftermath, so I know at that point he’s worrying about making sure the ink dries on his situation. So I’m like, Okay, I can’t beat him over the head about my situation. He don’t have a home yet his damn self, so I just did what I always do; I continued to make music, and felt when the time comes for me to start shopping…I wasn’t really focused on finding a new home so much as on building a new arsenal that J Records wouldn’t be sharing none of the profits with.
The “Touch It (Remix)” video shoot has become one of those sort of infamous moments in hip-hop. How do you remember the vibe at the shoot that day?
It was a beautiful day. A lot of people hadn’t seen each other since the New Year, so everybody’s toastin’ and chillin’ or whatever. I was on stage doing my part when all of the hoopla started, so I don’t really know what happened. There was a little noise going on off set, but I couldn’t really see it or find out what was going on because I’m on camera. I finished my part, grabbed my bags and was getting ready to walk out the door when the next thing you know, bang, bang, bang.
Have the police questioned you?
They questioned us that night. When they got there, I was still on the scene so they had drilled us to death, but of course any and everybody who was involved was already gone. They just sat there grilling the production crew and the extras and we were like, Wrong people. They went that way! [Laughs.] It was really a beautiful day until that bullshit happened.
How do you feel about Busta’s choice to not speak with authorities about the death of his bodyguard?
It doesn’t seem like much is going to happen anyway, whether or not you involve the cops. The cops have an obligation to do their duty, but at the end of the day, crimes in hip-hop kinda get solved unjustly anyway. [Busta] is going to deal with it how he’s going to deal with it, and if he doesn’t want to speak to the cops about it… There’s this whole thing now—code of the streets and stop snitching or whatever—that seems to be really popular these days [laughs].
You don’t subscribe to that?
I would rather not involve the cops, and it has nothing to do with a code of the streets or snitching. There are certain things the cops just don’t need to know. They use these situations to exploit rappers and defame us rather than honestly solve a crime, so I don’t trust their intentions all the way.
You and Young Zee have been together for a minute. Are you married?
We’re not married. Under common law I guess, because we’ve been together for damn near two decades and shit, but we haven’t physically tied the knot yet.
There was a rumor you were working on an album together. Is that still happening?
We were considering doing that for one of the Koch options, but then Koch, naturally, wanted to do the solo Rah Digga first. But then, again, the whole politics and everything that Koch was talking just wasn’t conducive with the $7 an album, so forget Koch. But we are putting out a mixtape together. We either gonna call it Mr. and Mrs. Battle [laughs], ’cause that’s Zee’s legal last name, or the other title is Scarecrow and Mrs. King. It’ll be out in the next few weeks.
Q-Tip had a lot to do with your early career. Why did you end up rolling with Busta?
Yeah, I started off with Q-Tip. He had a production situation with Elektra. About a year into the relationship, we just had different creative opinions. He was a more earthy type of artist, and I was more street. We just clashed a lot, not on a personal level, but we just had a big difference in opinion as far as what direction I wanted to go musically. So rather than me leave Elektra all together, him being a decent CEO, he stepped to Busta and he said, Okay, you’ve got a crew, and she’s more in the world of what you’re doing. She would make a nice female addition to the crew. To this day, I love [Q-Tip] to death for it, because he could’ve just dropped me. So I started vibin’ with Busta, got on the When Distaster Strikes album and things started rolling from there.
One of the first times a lot of people heard you was on “Cowboys” from the Fugees album. Since The Score is one of the biggest selling albums of all time, you must still be getting a big royalty check from that…
That’s very debatable [laughs]. The Fugees had a lot of discrepancies with folks that should’ve been getting paid. At the time, somehow they missed the memo to pay us [laughs]. Somebody missed the memo to cut the check to Tha Outsidaz. When you’re an artist trying to get on, you’re not thinking about, Oh, I gotta copyright my lines. You get an opportunity to get on somebody’s album, you just go. Afterwards, when we weren’t listed as writers for the record, things got a little nasty for a minute. It’s been straightened out, but since they’ve already undergone so many lawsuits with producers and things of that nature, we’re pretty much getting whatever change is left. It’s still a pretty penny, but not as pretty as it should’ve been—a couple dollars, a little sneaker money, you know.
When Busta signed Papoose to Flipmode recently, were you ever thinking, Why is he focusing on new artists when the original Squad isn’t really set up like they should be?
No, because at the end of the day, Busta still got a business to run himself. He’s constantly on the lookout for new talent, just like I have people that I’m signing under my wing that doesn’t have anything to do with Flipmode. At the end of the day, it’s up to each individual artist to establish themselves. Ultimately, it will be Busta that will executive produce the situation, but you can’t sit disgruntled in the corner. You gotta control your own movement.