by Peter Walsh / @goinginsquad
The birthplace of Michael Jordan. “Heaven is a Playground.” Lincoln High School. Chris Mullin. Bernard King. Fly Williams. Streetball legends and NBA stars. Success stories and cautionary tales… The list of Brooklyn’s impact on the game goes on and on and on.
When the calendar shows November 1, The Brooklyn (that’s right, Brooklyn) Nets will put all the hype, gentrification and Jay-Z hoopla on the backburner and finally hit the hardwood to partake in the city’s biggest game since ’73, beginning a new era of basketball in New York. Based on the history of the game, having an NBA team in Brooklyn seems long overdue and despite the natural fit, it all seems surreal.
It didn’t even seem possible. New York City has forever belonged to the Knicks and when the deal finally went through and construction began in ’10, the thought of a team in Brooklyn still seemed like a dream, especially with all the controversies, delays and doubt surrounding the building of the Barclays Center.
Fast forward to 2012: The building of the Barclays Center was completed, Hov rocked the place with an epic string of performances and everywhere you walk, people are rocking black and white Nets fitteds and t-shirts in anticipation of what will hopefully be a new winning tradition in New York. When the opening buzzer sounds and the Nets officially touch the court to kick off the regular season in front of a sold out crowd, everything will come full circle and the dreams of all Brooklynite hoop fans will finally become a reality.
For SLAM, the uniqueness of professional basketball in Brooklyn has provided us with an awesome opportunity to do something we’ve never done before. We could have gone the traditional route, brought on one of our many writers and given you a piece on the history of Brooklyn hoops and the Nets; but you’ll be able to read that rhetoric a thousand times over heading into the season. Instead, we’re celebrating by teaming up with our friend and renowned DJ Mick Boogie, adidas Originals and XXL Magazine to bring you Brooklyn Originals, a mixtape composed of all new, fresh content from an incredible array of Brooklyn MCs.
The full mix will drop October 31 and in preparation, SLAM will be bringing you interviews with some of the artists involved over the next few days.
Yesterday we had Maffew Ragazino, who also dropped “Got2 Love It” the single off of his upcoming EP White Gold and Brooklyn Originals. Today, we have the super talented Nitty Scott, MC who gave us an in-depth Q+A about moving to Brooklyn where she was able to shape her music and become the artist she is today.
SLAM: Nitty Scott, MC. Born in Michigan, raised in Florida, now representing Brooklyn. How did that happen?
Nitty Scott, MC: I moved from Michigan when I was pretty young, more for health issues than anything else, I had really bad asthma and the cold made it worse. We moved as far down south as we could and landed in Florida pretty randomly, we didn’t have any family there or anything. I was raised in the central Florida area and that’s where I discovered my love for writing and music. I attended an arts school out there and left for New York City when I was 17. After finding this passion for music but not seeing much opportunity where I was, I waned to put myself in the Mecca of where everything was happening to pursue and further my career.
SLAM: So you wind up in Brooklyn… how has living there shaped and inspired your sound as an artist?
NS: I found my sound and my approach in Brooklyn. When I first started writing in Florida, I had my own set of ideals and message I wanted to convey but at the same time, when you’re young you imitate what you think rap is, what you think rap sounds like and what your record should sound like. If I was to dig up my early composition notebooks, a lot of it isn’t even reflective of the Nitty Scott people are familiar with now, it was me banging out all these hard verses imitating my favorite rappers.
Once I came to Brooklyn and had a lot of different experiences here and really started to merge with the scene and attend these shows, festivals and events where I could politic with like-minded people, I really discovered the sound and approach I was going. I think I discovered that in Brooklyn and I totally embraced my B-Girl stance and it all came from BK.
SLAM: This isn’t the first project you have worked with Mick, what makes him an attractive DJ to work with… besides his incredible good looks?
NS: [Laughs] Mick has a really laid back energy despite the fact that he’s the man. He’s still very chill and cool to talk to. We’ve done a couple events and he has literally had a presence on almost every release I’ve had to date. It’s a cool relationship that started as a work connect, but eventually grew organically and now we’re really cool with each other.
SLAM: Including yourself, there’s this whole new crop of great talent coming from Brooklyn with a really unique sound. How does it feel to be part of that new wave of MCs?
NS: I love it. I think we are taking our culture back in a way and resurrecting the scene. I am a huge fan of all the talent that’s coming out of BK from Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era to Flatbush Zombies and I definitely feel like I’m a part of that wave. We’re doing what we want to do which is really dope, there’s this revolutionary feel to it. We say what we want and we embrace who we are and aren’t mimicking any type of formula; it’s working and it’s very dope.
SLAM: It seems very organic and artists are being themselves instead of trying to imitate each other. Do you think people are attracted to the organic feel of each artist?
NS: Definitely, it’s very obvious the corporate influence has taken over a street movement and the voice of the people who were otherwise not heard. People have noticed how big of an influence corporations and money have had on the movement. Bringing back that organic feel, not only does it empower us as artists to be ourselves but it also empowers the listeners and fans who feel like they are a part of something that’s bigger than themselves.
They feel like they are part of something grassroots and something completely fan funded and people take pride in that. They choose to support you and you are a representative of them; there’s no division of “them and us.” It’s a really dope feeling that people haven’t been able to experience for a while.
SLAM: Do you think that 25-and-under movement is starting to take the scene back from the corporate grasp?
NS: Yeah, definitely. I think I’m a part of what I like to call the “DIY Generation” where we’re recognizing that it’s not “Ef them” but we can do a lot of things for ourselves—we can have our cake and eat it too essentially. We’re not waiting for people to make our dreams come true.
SLAM: You have a very interesting background in that you studied journalism. How did that translate to hip-hop and MC’ing?
NS: Journalism was the more academic route or my life before I just spontaneously moved to New York to pursue my rap career–I had every intention to go to college as a journalism major. I got my feet wet as much as possible—I interned at the NY Daily News, I was the Editor-In-Chief at my school newspaper, worked for the yearbook and was super involved in anything that had to do with journalism. When I transitioned to a MC, I didn’t feel that I had to completely give up on journalism because there was an element of journalism in what I was doing anyway.
I can still be a liaison to people, I can still provide perspectives from people, it’s just not in an article. As a MC, I have more freedom to express myself and can be as biased as I want to be and have whatever angle I want and be the hood CNN if I want to. I integrate things that I like about journalism into my craft now.
SLAM: Can you talk about the “Boombox Family” movement?
NS: The Boombox Family is my movement, it’s grassroots and we’re all about substance and lyricism. We’re filling that void and understand that there’s a market for those who still value a message in music. If you support me, come to my shows and are down with me you’re part of the Boombox Family. I could have chosen crew or squad or anything else that implies a group of people but I chose people because I wanted to give those feelings of unity and togetherness and things that are rare in the industry right now. The movement grows everyday.
SLAM: Those values, beliefs and methods behind your movement, were those shaped by your transplant to Brooklyn at all?
NS: Definitely, even in high school I felt like I wanted to have a different approach which is interesting because I don’t think the state of the game was as dire five years ago. Even five years ago, I felt like I needed to speak for the women who the members of the youth who aren’t being spoken for. I didn’t feel like the mainstream representative was speaking for me. It became even sharper and I became even more determined once I moved to New York and encountered all these obstacles that really kept me from being able to create freely.
When I first got here, I thought I would be able to immediately get into it but it took years of wrong turns and roadblocks but that made me even more determined to accomplish my goals. It gave me a story to tell, it humbled me, it made it so that I can legitimately say there was struggle, there were tears and times I didn’t think it would happen for me and my music wouldn’t see the light of day. It gave me a testimony that allowed me to relate to people, I’m almost grateful that it didn’t just fall into my lap. That’s what Brooklyn represents to me, the pure struggle and now ultimately, victory.
SLAM: What makes you a Brooklyn Original?
NS: Just the fact that I have experienced so many different walks of life in Brooklyn. I’ve lived in so many different neighborhoods from the nicer ones to the hood. I’ve been the underdog here, I’ve starved here, I’ve struggled here, I’ve been at the bottom here and I’ve worked my way out of it here and I’m going to enjoy that hard work here as well. Executing my whole plan and bringing it to fruition here makes me a Brooklyn Original.