Friday, January 07, 2011

Take Three: Rah Digga "Dirty Harriet"

"..comin' to the floor, I be next to rep like Al Gore..."

Yes, I fell for it. Hook, line and sinker all in one. The Flipmode Squad was damn near the only thing (next to Wu-Tang) that I was checking for. Probably damn near the best dynasty skillwise, Flipmode Squad seemed to have all of it in spades: the dope yet insane rhymer in Busta Rhymes, the certified hypeman who could actually rap decent in Spliff Star, the dark voiced and epic sounding Lord Have Mercy, Roc Marciano who was definitely a great no-frills emcee, and Rampage the Last Boyscout, whose rhyming seemed staggered and well spaced out. But then came the self-proclaimed first lady of Flipmode, and none were more excited than me when Rah Digga stepped out for this solo outing.
Maybe it wasn't as well lauded as The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, but in terms of skill and wit, Rah Digga was pretty much the only other mainstream female emcee who matched pound for pound with Lauryn back in those days. Now that may seem like a bold statement and I may alienate a lot of my peers as a result, but you could say that folks like MC Lyte, Rah Digga, and Lauryn Hill were in a large part responsible for some of the dopest new female talent that rap has encountered. Today's Take Three, my column in which I reduce dope albums or otherwise to three cuts and let you, the listener/consumer make your determination, is all about Rah Digga's debut album, Dirty Harriet. First one of the new year too! Check it out after the jump.

1. What They Call Me
Pete Rock seems to always lace some ill emcees when he wants, and Rah Digga is one of those ill emcees. Over a very bare-bones bass and distorted shakers, Digga lays down the case for what is needed in a dope female emcee, with the third verse serving as her closing argument. The hook is an homage to BDP's "J-i-m-m-y" with Rah cleverly placing her name in proper place, and when that happens, Pete Rock lets loose this very melodic sax that gives goosebumps to the listener on impact. Check the third verse where she says the following lines and rest assured, you'd be saying the same thing about her:

(What the chicks say?) hoes might oppose
But most chicks happy I can rock without takin off my clothes
(And all the niggas say) "Damn, this bitch is tight..
Ain't heard a broad rip like that since MC Lyte"

2. Tight
Most folks keep on saying the same tired case for female emcees a lot of times: "man, they can't snap on a verse like dudes could." This cut effectively silenced that critique, where Rah over well orchestrated rhodes and violins kicks some crazy verbals. Need proof? "A black queen ya best believe my jeans won't say Paco/I swing to the 'ville for some waffles & some beef falafel" or "Warmer than a bomber, hotter than the region of Ghana/Get loot like that Trump bitch, Ivana" or, "We pros, I decompose any rapper to the bone/Down to the X and the Y chromosome." Game, set and match, Rah lets off rhymes like any well tested battle rapper, and lets loose with metaphors to make you lose your voice from yelling "OH DAMN!" so much.

3. Lessons of Today
Aside from Paula Perry, Heather B and the ill-fated Charli Baltimore, it's a rare feat when DJ Premier comes to lace a female with a beat. And we get such a blessing in the form of this cut from Rah Digga, who uses this beat to talk about her siblings, and their trials and tribulations. Rah rhymes with a ton of purpose and sticks to the story, and puts her descriptive feats to the test in the tiniest of descriptions, such as fights with the younger brother, the death of her middle brother, and the curt but wild older brother who served more as a mentor. It's kind of hard for a Premier cut to be digested like that, but it proves what a good producer can do with the right talent, which is providing them with the proper canvas to leave the listener with a piece of themselves.

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