“During the session, me and Q-Tip were the only ones in the room who weren’t smoking,” Rah Digga says in an interview with Billboard. “So we ended up sitting and had a real conversation. I just blurted out to him, ‘I got 30 days to get a record deal before this baby is born.’ And he said, ‘I’ll sign you.’ Sure enough, the following week was the Lyricist Lounge, where I performed pregnant. And true to his word, [Q-Tip] led me by the hand up to the offices of Elektra Records. Sylvia Rhone came in the office and was like, ‘Oh wow, I’ve been looking for a new female artist to sign. Pull up the paperwork.’ And she walked right back out of the office. I was a signed artist just like that.
“I think I was on Sylvia’s radar already because I did the duet with the Fugees,” Digga adds. “We shot a video for that song, and I was very comparable to Lauryn Hill at that time as far as our size and our look. I guess we just reminded people of each other. So [Sylvia Rhone] had an idea in her head that I would be an artist similar to Lauryn. When I came waddling in the office nine months pregnant, it was like, ‘Oh, we didn’t know she was pregnant.’ But the good thing was that I only had about a month to go because it took that long to go through the contract negotiations. By the time everything was all done, signed and sealed, I was literally giving birth.”
Rah Digga’s Q-Tip connection also opened doors for her to meet and work with Busta Rhymes.
“Q-Tip was going through some things,” Rah Digga says. “I think A Tribe Called Quest was splitting up around that time. And I was a pretty headstrong artist, so Q-Tip might have felt a little overwhelmed with me or thought maybe he’d bitten off more than he could chew. He put a bug in Busta’s ear and the next thing you know, I was a part of Flipmode…I think what sealed the deal for me was the crew record that Busta had on Disaster Strikes. He had a song called ‘We Could Take It Outside’ where he featured the rest of his crew. I pretty much stole the show and the reviews came back like, ‘Who’s that girl?’ And Busta just said, ‘Okay, she’s a firecracker. I have to lock this down.'”
Eventually, Rah Digga left Flipmode, saying she felt she was not progressing in her career the way she wanted to as a member of Busta’s camp.
“In that era, having a crew was everything,” she says. “It’s hard to say if my career would have progressed further if I was on my own. There’s definitely a gift and a curse that comes with being in a crew. But I do feel that people don’t know enough about Rah Digga as an artist. I think when you mention my name, a lot of people just think of me as the chick in Flipmode. People don’t really realize that I had a history and career that was thriving prior to Flipmode…I don’t ever want to say that the crew hindered me, because I always moved at my own pace. Anybody in Flipmode will tell you, I didn’t sit around and wait for my turn. I made my turn happen. But I do feel like a lot of the fallout from crew-based decisions did affect my solo career.”
Now, Digga is focused on a community center in Newark, New Jersey, which she says is in need of assistance.
“We have such a smaller demographic than Chicago, but when you compare the numbers, we actually have three times the murder rate,” Digga says. “I’m really trying to give these kids something to do in the neighborhood. They all look up to me and respect me because they always see me. Throughout my life and my career I’ve always had what I call a little trap spot in the hood or an apartment in the hood. So they know I’m real. They know I’m not one of those artists who makes it and then leaves and forgets everybody. I have other residences in different places, but I’ve always kept a spot in Newark. I’m still here. I’ve never left. So I’m working on doing things for the community…For a moment, I was going to run for councilwoman. I was well on my way, too. I definitely had the backing. But I had to sit back and ask myself, ‘Do I really want to be entangled in politics?’ I felt like I’d better off doing what I’m doing. I’m really here to help. I’d rather just be the artist that I am and continue to make music and contribute to the community when I can.”
Rah Digga was interviewed recently by Billboard as part of the publication’s Ladies First: 31 Female Rappers Who Changed Hip-Hop article. Yo Yo, MC Lyte, Gangsta Boo, Lil Mama, Ms. Jade, Angel Haze and Charli Baltimore have also been included in the series.