What We’re Lis­ten­ing To: Nitty Scott

On be­ing a rad­i­cal queer Afro-latina artist

Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture - - TRAVEL -

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.

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