Rah Digga has made a name for herself as a member of Busta Rhymes’ Flip Mode Squad and with a spotlight-stealing cameo on the Fugees’ ”Cowboys.” But with the top 10 debut of her solo album, Dirty Harriet, the 25-year-old husky-voiced rapper is striking out on her own. Growing up in Newark, N.J., Digga (née Rashia Fisher) preferred contemplative hip-hop to violent, hardcore rap. It was the wise street poetry of Nas’ 1994 Illmatic that got her through her days as a struggling MC.
”When I was in my early 20s and in the process of making demo songs and shopping for a deal, I used to listen to that album and think to myself this is something I would want my record to sound like. Whether I was happy or sad, I listened to it around the clock. It was the thing that made me bounce back whenever I felt like ‘Damn, I’m not gonna make it, this isn’t working for me.’… Especially the song ”The World Is Yours,” which was produced by Pete Rock. That was my get-up-and-go. To me, that song was like a cup of coffee and a cigarette in the morning. The hook is so dreamy. I like intelligent, witty rhymes. I like the truth. I try to come across with the same poetic justice Nas does. I don’t like superficial rhyming — bragging about this and that. I like to listen to music that is inspirational. There were albums prior to Illmatic, back in the day, when I was younger, that influenced me too. You know, like Big Daddy Kane’s ‘Raw’ and Public Enemy’s ‘Public Enemy No. 1.’ You just don’t get albums like that anymore. As far as what a female MC was supposed to be, MC Lyte was like my icon growing up. But to me, Illmatic was perfect.”