I don’t want this to be one of those reviews where it’s more about the context the artist is creating within than the album. Yet, when it’s a female rapper’s work being reviewed, its merits are weighed with the bigger reality of the “rap era” their work is being consumed in, and the scarcity of their voices. Currently, the female voice in rap is Nikki Minaj and no one else. The singularity of Minaj’s style and image only serves to further minimize opportunities for other female emcees to be heard. Whether on the underground or in the mainstream, the past few years have not been kind to female emcees. The fading shadow images of past female rappers lay like tattered bodies in the desert of our memories. Without a doubt their are many woman creating rap music, good rap music at that, but the ratio and appeal of their music in comparison to the street-youth oriented boys club, is like trying to be an elected public official of color in the 1950s.
From this desert is where Rah Digga has decided to remerge and ironically as a sort of nostalgic lets take it back to the essence rap has began to ferment, it is a perfect time for Digga’s style of emceeing to return. Ten years after her excellent Dirty Harriet debut and six years after her shelved sophomore effort, she releases the terribly titled Classic entirely produced by Nottz. Full of thick as home-made syrup bass lines, and drums harder than Beyonce’s frame, Classic alludes more to the era Digga was bred in, than how fans will look at the effort years down the road. Fighting off that “old-head’ / possible relic tag, Ms. Rashia uses the ten songs to flex her strong similes, respectable word play, and tenacious rhyme schemes. The spastic Mayfield funk of “Solidified” is the stand out cut: Digga goes in all fem-braggadocios over warbling guitar loops and crunchy hi-hats and rides. The high energy of “Feel Good” follows and would make many a soul spill their drink at various kinds of group gatherings. Even the whistle & organ heavy “Who Gonna Check Me Boo” will put sub-woofers to work, while Digga smacks would be competitors like flies with her relentless couplets.
Yet I’m oddly compelled to say that all Classic offers are quality beats and rhymes. The spiritless “Viral” is the only concept track, no singular topic or story is addressed at any point, the hooks are rather dull, and even in its brevity Classic comes off rather dry. Yes, there are wack rappers, Digga comes from a hi-moment in lyricism, and the qualities of mainstream music is minimal, but “boo” you been pretty much gone for 10 years! What’s been going on with you? I didn’t get a sense of Rah Digga’s identity at all. As Noz alluded to in a Tumblr post this year, that lyrical miracle super emcee shit that thrived from 88-98, seems to be more of an anomaly than the standard when we look at the entire scope of rap music’s history. The album lacks a sense of direction, soul, and fun. Thus, Digga and Nottz come off a bit dogmatic on Classic. There is very good music here, also some passé, it’s just the parties involved have the talent to produce a much better project.