You said you were done with your journal [Click here to read] for awhile. You know we couldn’t let you disappear like that. What’s going on?
I stopped doing the journals because I was just really frustrated with where I was musically. It was coming up on the end of the seventh anniversary of my first album and it just seemed real crazy because seven years later, people are still asking me for an album. I was just feeling a certain way towards the music industry and a whole lot of other things and I was just going to shift my focus, which is what I’ve been doing lately anyway.
Even though I have movie experience in the past, I’ve been starting from square one trying to rebuild those foundations because I’m trying to solidify myself as a real actress and not capitalize off of my music fame. I want to make sure that I’m in the right channels and I got the right team around me and that I’m getting the right type of roles. I’m not looking for roles where people are looking for music people. I have to convince them that I’m worthy enough for the job. That’s been my focus and I just felt really bad when I wasn’t on my music like that. Then I just woke up one day and said, “You know what? I can’t even go on like this.” I made the necessary changes I needed to make to feel better about what’s going on with me. I’m going hard in the studio like I’ve always been. I’m actually no longer with the Flipmode Squad.
How do you think your fans will react to the news?
From the real Rah Digga fans and the reactions I’ve been getting from the journal, I’m gathering that they will probably be happy. I think a lot of people see Busta as the reason why things haven’t all the way taken off for me the way they should. Others will probably think I’m doomed without him. I’m personally heartbroken over it. It’s really the end of an era.
Did you ever feel that Busta was holding you back?
I don’t think Busta was holding me back because it was never like he held a gun to my head and told me I couldn’t explore other options. He never did that. He always let it be known from the gate what he supported and what he didn’t, but in the end it was my decision. I know he’s not a fan of the independent music world and I had plenty of opportunities and I probably would have been successful with it, but I know not having his support in certain situations probably did deter me from doing a lot of things. At the same time, he never physically stopped me from doing anything. I can’t really explain to the whole world all of the kinks and things that go wrong with the music industry.
For whatever political reasons and Busta being the CEO and an artist himself, I’m sure there were business decisions he made for himself that didn’t serve in the best interests of Flipmode just as he had to go out on limbs for us, much to his own detriment.
When we initially left Elektra Records, that was a mutual decision. But I sure as hell wouldn’t have even contemplated going to J Records if it weren’t for Busta doing the Flipmode Squad deal there. J already had a rapport of being sucky at rap and I knew the type of artist I was would have problems there. And that’s exactly what happened.
Did Busta’s handling of the Israel Ramirez shooting affect your decision as well?
My decision to leave Flipmode was a business decision. My feelings on that whole situation are something else. I’m a parent first and foremost and at the end of the day, his family deserves answers and they deserve justice and they need to get it in some form and fashion, whether it’s dealing with the cops or not. I’d rather leave that topic alone.
In your journal, you talked about how you were falling back from hip-hop for awhile. Are you still going to take a break?
Truth be told, I never stopped recording. I put rap down on the totem pole as far as my priorities, but I never stopped recording. I engineer my own self. Nothing is stopping me from banging out right now. I’m actually in the process of putting together an album that I’m going to release online. I’m looking to do that sometime around the summer. I thought about trying to actually shop a deal or whatever, but at this stage of the game, I’m not even concerned with inking a deal with an independent or major.
Anything that I release, I’m going to release online and I’m going to totally own the rights and square away official producer agreements with the producers and we’ll split the return down the middle, 50/50. I don’t need any labels paying to distribute any CD’s, I’ll leave that to the bootleggers. It’s all going to be featured and sold online. You will see all the events leading up to it and I’m going to shoot a couple videos out of pocket. I’m not going the traditional route of putting out a million mixtapes and try to get some crazy buzz in the hood.
If you’re a Rah Digga fan and seven years later, you’re asking me about the album, the album is here! I’m not trying to figure out what’s the right song to put out and what’s going on in music now. I’m not even concerned with what the “now” sound is. I’m not concerned with anything like that. I don’t care if the happy feet generation agrees with it. This is going to be a compilation of joints that I love, and whoever loves me, you can buy it on rahdiggamusic.com.
Do you have any regrets from the Flipmode situation?
I was always taught not to regret anything. There’s always a “coulda, woulda, shoulda” that lurks in everyone’s brain, but I believe timing is everything. I could have left sooner but I honestly can’t even speculate on that. Of course things would have gone differently, but whether they would have gone differently in a good way or a bad way, we’ll never know. I could have left four years ago and fell flat on my face and be working at Wal-Mart now or I could be 50 Cent. All I can do is pick up the pieces from here and appreciate everybody who rode it out with me for this long. I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed.
Were you disappointed you weren’t on Busta’s last album, The Big Bang?
I feel like when you’re a CEO of a crew that you promote and when you’re working on an album that is anticipated to be the biggest of your career, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t feature them on the album. I guess at the end of the day he had his own constraints in dealing with Dr. Dre and if that’s was what was necessary to put out the album, then it was what it was. He made up for it with the “Touch It (Remix)”, at least as far as Rah Digga goes.
If you never left Flipmode and waited for Aftermath and let things continue going as they are now, would you have ever released an album?
At this point, it wasn’t my staying with Flipmode that was stopping anything. My head has just been somewhere else. I honestly never put my eggs in the Aftermath basket. It was made clear when Busta went into the Aftermath situation that it wasn’t a “Flipmode” situation. Flipmode is his imprint, but it was always clear that it was Dr. Dre signing Busta Rhymes.
To be honest, I’m not even sure who is Flipmode nowadays. We all kind of figured in our own minds that when it was time to put it down, Dr. Dre would have first rights, but I never, for one second, tried to put it out there that I was putting out an album on Aftermath. I figured the best thing for all of us to do would be to sign separate label deals. It didn’t work with Elektra. It did work, but we were all young and felt like Elektra wasn’t doing enough and then when we got to J, we wished we would have stayed at Elektra. It was almost like, What label is going to take on the whole crew at this point?
We knew that Dr. Dre being the person he was and him having the roster that he did, none of us really banked on being on Aftermath. We figured this was maybe the point where we all needed to be under our own label so we didn’t fall under the radar again. That’s what was going on. Everybody was pursuing their own solo ventures while Busta was putting his album together on Aftermath.
It’s crazy you don’t even know who’s on Flipmode today.
It is what it is. I know who was down when I got down, but individuals just kind of dropped off the scene. Baby Sham and Rampage just kind of disappeared. I still keep in touch with Ramp. We do a lot of shows together. He has an album out now independently. Spliff’s role is crucial to Busta so he ain’t going nowhere. Other members have been recruited since then like M Dollars, Labba and Papoose. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. I stepped out of the circle myself so I can’t sit here and honestly name the rappers in the clique today.
Does everyone rely on Busta for too much or does Busta only care about Busta?
Your questions are bananas. I suppose the world thinks Busta is this devil that purposely set out to have his crew fail. We encountered problems for a long time, spent a lot of time on making the crew work as a whole and when things weren’t coming together the way we needed them to in a timely fashion, then the label would jump in and say, “We need a Busta Rhymes solo album right now.” It wasn’t Busta not caring what was going on with the crew. We spent several years trying to figure out the Flipmode follow-up album and it was a hot one. We were trying to figure out what the single would be and all that and the label would step in and ask for a Busta Rhymes album to meet their quota. When the bosses say we have to fall back, there really isn’t anything any of us can do. Busta was still struggling with his own album sales at the time so he really only had so much leverage. I know he fought hard for Flipmode, against the label and his own management. The only thing I fault Busta for is not really knowing how to balance his own artistry with the needs of six people whose lives and careers he had in his hands. I think rappers, period, are the worst CEO’s. It has to be impossible to care about someone else’s career more than your own. I have no intention of ever trying to start a label unless I’m already retired from rapping. I don’t even want that headache.
Are you still on good terms with everyone in Flipmode?
Absolutely. After I had the initial conversation with Busta, I made it a point to speak to everyone in the crew individually. I wanted everyone to hear it from me that I was moving forward and I wished everyone the best. Everybody had kind words and blessings to say to me. There are no hard feelings and there will never be any from me towards them. I have nothing but love and respect for Busta, but there comes a time in every person’s life when they have to make the necessary changes to make their own lives better and I felt like this was one of them.
You said you were moving west in your journal. Are you in LA now?
I keep saying my ass is moving to LA. I am actually moving to LA. My plane tickets are officially booked. I keep postponing my trip because I’m feeling like, Damn, once I get over there, I’m going to be out of touch with the hip-hop community. No matter what’s happened in my life, I’ve always been aware of what’s happened with every artist and I’m afraid I won’t know what’s going on in the mixtape circuit and I won’t be able to listen to Hot97. That’s why I go out and I always end up coming back. I’m an East Coast person and this is where my roots are. I can’t ever see me living over there and not coming back because my whole family tree is over here, but the acting is going rather well and I’m actually shooting two films this year so far. Three’s the charm. (laughs) When I physically take my ass to California, I’ll get that third one in the can. I have two independent movies coming out this year.
Are you getting the types of roles that you want?
We’re all dreaming. Anyone who is an aspiring actress is hoping they can land that Jennifer Hudson role, but right now, I need things to put on my movie reel. I have Thir13en Ghosts and Carmen on my reel and I’m kind of portraying the same girl on both films. I’m the sassy, witty, black girl with the ‘hood element. One of the roles that I’m playing now is an FBI agent and the other role is a woman who has an estranged relationship with her father. Keith David is playing my dad. It’s really emotional with a lot of crying. It’s real drama. The storyline is almost along the lines of Crash, but there are a lot of heavenly elements going on. It’s almost like a surreal Crash. It’s definitely a challenging role and I’m looking forward to it. When I get those in the can, I can put those in my reel and when I step into a casting room for something like Flags of Our Fathers, they can see something besides the sassy, black chick from the ‘hood. That is part of the reason I’ve been taking the steps I’ve been taking, to prepare myself for those human interest movies.
Is it hard for you to balance the acting with your music?
I don’t think it’s a hard balance at all. It’s definitely two different worlds, but the same rules apply. I’m not going to pretend I’m going to live happily ever after I start acting. It’s the same frustrations. The things that you have to prepare yourself for a successful music career are around the same things you have to do to have a successful acting career. The worlds are really parallel. What I love about acting is that it’s a very nice Plan B. You can’t really rap when you’re 40 or 50, but acting is something you can carry out to your old age.
I think acting is really a nice stepping stone for anyone, but I think anyone is a fool to not be multitasking because rap is the most short-lived lifespan of any genre. I know I do not want the headache or stress of running a record label and being responsible for other artists. I know me. People have to be conscious of what they can and can’t handle. If you know you’re a self-driven person, then I don’t think it’s fair for you to juggle the lives of other artists in your hands. I know I’m the type of person to take care of myself and if I’m not happy, I can’t take care of any other artist. I don’t want that headache. My Plan B is going to be acting. Some people don’t want to perform at all anymore and they’re just kind of removing themselves completely from the spot. Acting is my Plan B and it’s something that I enjoy a lot and I think I’ll be successful at it down the line.
I read something you said awhile ago in an interview where you said you can’t rap once you get into your 40’s and 50’s. Do you think you stepping away somewhat from the music is part of a long, drawn-out plan or is it a self-fulfilling prophecy?
I would say it’s the latter, because seven or eight years ago, I never would have said I would be acting. I remember Busta saying to me that I should consider acting because I work very well. He said I took direction very well. This was before Thir13en Ghosts and Carmen. Acting was the furthest thing from my mind. I was hip-hopped out. There was a time when that was all I listened to. I don’t even think I owned a Mary J. Blige CD. It was all Wu-Tang and Mobb Deep. Now, I think I have more rock and pop in my iPod than rap. It’s just crazy how people in general evolve.
I always said to myself that when I got into my 30’s, I wasn’t going to try to be rapping, but then you see artists get to their 30’s and it’s all good. I feel an obligation to my fans. I just get so blown away and emotional when I get asked about my album. I get asked that every day and I can’t believe that seven years later, people are still checking for another album. I feel like I would be doing people an injustice if I just said, “Fuck rap” and I went another direction. I feel like I have to drop another album. And I’ll probably keep being asked about the album until I put one out. I’m a woman and I’m driven by estrogen, not by ego, and the world is not letting me give up this rapping.
No matter what happens in your acting, when Digga comes around will it still be curtains?
It will always be curtains! And I know somebody blew this up in my journal: even though I’m in the process of negotiating these film deals, I’m still making it clear to the folks that when they’re putting the soundtrack together; I have to get the single and a video. I might not be able to do anything about the scores, but any flick that I’m in that’s going to have a soundtrack, I definitely am going to be on that damn thing.
After everything you’ve been through in both music and film, what advice would you offer to females trying to come up?
It’s very hard for females. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard. All I can say to you is to make sure you stay true to yourself. As with any artist, you always have to conform to the environment to be successful, but in the same token, it depends what success means to you. If it’s a line of Maybachs and Hummers in your driveway with no health insurance go for it. If success to you means your family is safe and provided for and having a 401K, and pension, then go for it.
Don’t worry about spending all your doe living up to an image that’s only going to carry you as far as your last hit. The game is way too inconsistent to not be saving up for a rainy day. Make economical purchases and invest your money into things that are going to be assets to you in the future. I think spending $100,000 on a chain is stupid when you can put that down on a building with tenants and a storefront. If you ever need to pawn that bitch, you won’t even get half your money back. Nothing is wrong with flossing, but floss within your means. I think that’s everyone biggest problem.
Follow your heart. If you do it someone else’s way and you fail, you’re going to be real mad at yourself. If you do it your way and fail, at least you can’t be mad at yourself. And that’s from an artist’s perspective, not a female’s perspective. You have to always be open to criticism and you have to always be able to take direction from those in authority. You have to always do what’s in your heart because if you don’t make it, you’re going to be kicking yourself in the ass forever.
Are we going to see more journal entries from you in the future?
Yes! My website is in the process of being redesigned but I have a very nice contest going on in the website. When you go to the site, there will be instructions for you if you so choose to enter the contest. The winner will receive a free verse from Rah Digga. Whoever submits the hottest demo record will receive a free verse and the song will be featured on my next mixtape.
What do you want to say to everybody?
To everybody reading this, I want to say, “Thank you so much for your undying love and support.” Thank you to everyone who’s been riding with me for this long and definitely expect bigger and better things from Rah Digga. This is the year you all can finally grab your loins and shout, “I told y’all Digga was the nicest chick!” To all of the Flipmode fans out there, Flipmode is still very much alive and kicking and you can definitely expect great things from them as well!