What We’re Listening To: Nitty Scott
On being a radical queer Afro-latina artist
Nitty Scott is a force. She’s queer, Buddhist, Afro-latina, and committed to teaching other people of color that pleasure is integral to our liberation. Through her phenomenal second album, Creature! (2017), as well as her socialmedia presence, Scott is using music to highlight how we can all get free by embracing who we are. In this Q&A, Scott tells us how she’s made her heritage central to her music.
Were you an avid music fan growing up? What was the first song, artist, or album that really stuck with you?
Absolutely! I was raised with strong cultural music influences from both my parents. My dad introduced me to classic soul, blues, very Black music from the deep South, and my mom was always playing salsa, merengue, and Jersey house music. Sam Cooke’s “Summertime” is probably the first song that just planted itself in my heart. It was my first lullaby. I want to do a dope rendition one day—if I can work up the courage.
At what point did you realize that you wanted to be a musician?
Around age 16, I transitioned from poetry and creative writing to rap music. I handed out mixtapes in the hallways of my art school and outrapped everyone in the cyphers, so the positive reception made me feel confident enough to see myself as a real spitter. When I started making music, India.arie, Slum Village, and André 3000 really helped to inspire the direction of my art, but I still have a very assorted musical palette that I draw from.
Your music beautifully centers being an Afro-latina woman who’s unashamed of her sexuality. Which artists were integral to helping you find the boldness of your musical voice?
In the ’90s, I saw some fierce, diverse representations of Black womanhood in hip hop—lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, TLC, Lauryn Hill, Aaliyah—and they approached sex, fashion, and music in their own radical ways, but they were all so different from each other. As a girl who shape-shifts and evolves often, I feel like a product of all these women—the multifaceted daughter of those who blazed the trail before me. We’re in a time where people are finally starting to see women as beings with more than one dimension, with intersectional experiences. I think that’s where I pick up and build on their work. I embody everything that we’ve accomplished so far and open doors for even more women’s voices in the current climate.
If you had to create a musical canon, who would be in it?
Ooh, damn, okay: Bob Marley, Stevie Nicks, Kanye West, Azealia Banks, and Ab-soul.
What do you hope your music gives to Afro-latina girls who are listening?
I just want young girls who are like me to hear and see empowering messages, and to know that they have a rightful place in the world. I want to push through everything that tells them they don’t belong, so hopefully one day they won’t have to do such heavy lifting.