Why Queer Buddhist Rapper Nitty Scott Is Catching Everyone's Attention, Including Cardi B

Ad failed to load

This past July, when Nitty Scott dropped her second full-length album, the 27-year-old Afro-Latina rapper and poet thought the ode to black femme agency might alienate listeners. Instead, Creature! — an album that uses her own life as inspiration for a character she calls “Negrita in Wonderland”— received the best reviews of Scott’s career. Remezcla dubbed the album a “rich proclamation of Afro-Latina womanhood and XXL called it a rebirth and “must listen.”

“It’s interesting, because [Creature!] resonates with an entire community, especially Afro-Latina women,” Scott tells Bustle. “There’s no black or brown girl who has heard the album that doesn’t see herself in it.”

That said, it was the sheer number of people who connected with the album that truly surprised her; many listeners turned out to be people who Scott thought Creature! couldn’t speak to. But instead, according to Scott, those listeners have “been completely inspired, entertained, and educated by the project; more so because the project is about me embracing the intersectionality of my existence. And that is universal.” Since the release of Creature!, Scott has been on the road, hitting summer festivals and performing alongside this year's other big female MC, Cardi B.

Ad failed to load

Nitzia “Nitty” Scott began her career in New York in 2010, after her freestyle over Kanye West's "Monster" went viral. She released her first mixtape, The Cassette Chronicles, in 2011, immediately followed by another mixtape, Doobies x Popsicle Sticks, with her debut album, The Art of Chill, following in 2014.

Although Scott is currently basking in the fantastic reception her new album is receiving, she’s also quick to recall that she hasn’t always had the creative freedom that she had on Creature!. Earlier in her career, Scott felt pigeonholed and misplaced by record industry veterans, who told her she couldn’t be sexy and intelligent at the same time — a disconnect that inspired Creature!’s examination of Scott’s experiences as a black American, Puerto Rican, bisexual, feminist.

Ad failed to load

“As a woman in hip-hop, it has been very difficult to have people accept my identity and my vision as what I want to do,” she says.

In fact, many music industry professionals attempted to push Scott to drop her unique style and be more like whatever female artist was popular at the time — unfortunately, this is not uncommon for many women artists, especially in hip-hop.

“I’ve seen it happen to a lot of other women as well, where people [or labels] will approach you like, we love you, but we’d like a little bit more of this or of that,” Scott says. “[Many people in the music industry would] rather sit there and brainstorm on how you can be more like — insert successful female rapper here.”

Ad failed to load
Robert Adam Mayer

Though she notes that this kind of pressure is applied across the board in the music industry, Scott adds that male artists often have more freedom and aren’t pressured to fit into cookie cutter identities.

"I don’t see male artists being told that this is the picture of what a male rapper should be. They’re allowed to be what they are and to fall on whatever part of the culture that they do. And I just wish that women artists were afforded that a little more,” Scott says. “It’s very insulting and it makes it very hard for women within hip-hop to have their own identity and voices.”

Ad failed to load

These days, Scott is completely in charge of her art and her brand. In addition to writing, recording, and performing, she’s also fully managing her career — Scott books her own shows, schedules her own interviews, and makes her own business decisions, which is incredibly rare for someone who has headlined a major tour in Japan, had her songs appear in studio films, and worked with major brands like Sprite and Miller Lite.

“I think it’s really cool to see a young black female who belongs to many other communities as well, really out here just navigating it for myself,” she says. “I hope that I can empower other artists, and women especially, to do the same, because it really is the best way to keep your narrative pure.”

nittyscottMC on YouTube
Ad failed to load

One creative decision Scott recently made was executive producing the short film for her single, “La Diaspora,” a colorful video with big-screen quality that features Scott in an indigenous utopia that celebrates diasporic identity and tribal life in the pre-colonized world.

“It’s important because it’s not a narrative that begins with slave ships and pain — a story that we’ve seen way too many times,” Scott says. “I wanted to depict indigenous joy in a pre-colonized world and remind people that there is a reality where our ancestors were living communally, and being in alignment with the earth and living in very sustainable spiritual ways. That nostalgia is a collective thing that many women of the diaspora feel.”

The video and Scott’s thoughts tap into a larger story: Many women of color today are exploring and embracing indigenous spiritual practices that have been shunned, demonized, and replaced with Western ways. Scott herself was ostracized by her religious family for being part of the LGBTQ community and began questioning the “conflicting” messages about religion and spirituality that she her received throughout her life from her family’s religions, Christianity and Islam. She then discovered and connected with Zen Buddhism, as well as brujeria, which has been a longtime practice in her family.

Ad failed to load

“Around the time that I put out The Art of Chill... I discovered Zen Buddhism. I don’t consider myself a strict Zen Buddhist, but I definitely apply the principles to my life,” she says. “The practices bring me peace.”

During Scott’s spiritual journey, she also realized that most indigenous religions are shunned due to colonization and racism. “After that, I continued to read about the anti-black roots in calling religions like Vodou and Santeria evil,” she says. “I remember my mom telling me that there is a long line of practicing Santeria in my family. And I realized that is why I gravitated towards it.”

Ad failed to load

Which brings us back to Creature!, and Scott’s surprise at how so many people, from so many different walks of life, related to her story.

“It doesn’t matter if I come from the barrio of the Bronx, or if I’m saying that I’m a bruja and bisexual, and talking about mental health — all the things that I’m talking about as far as my experience,” Scott says. “It’s more universal than I thought it was.”

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

7 Signs Your Partner Is "The One," Even If They Have Commitment Issues

There's nothing better than finding that one person you could actually see yourself spending the rest of your life with. However, realizing that your partner has commitment issues can put a damper on things. It may even have you questioning whether o…
By Kristine Fellizar

Bustle's Editors On Florida + Fergie

Welcome to a new week, Bustle readers! February is already more than halfway through, and the weather feels way more like spring than winter right now — but don't get used to it. There's a lot to recap today, from the latest on the tragic Parkland sh…
By Rachel Simon

Here's Where Your Next Trip Should Be, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

If you've been craving a vacation, now is a good time to take the plunge. According to data collected by travel site Expedia, late winters and early spring are pretty much the best times of the year to go on vacation. Based on average airfare ticket …
By Callie Tansill-Suddath

How This Quadriplegic Beauty Lover Beat Cancer & Became A Professional Makeup Artist

In 2010, one day before she was supposed to start cosmetology school, Steph Aiello was involved in a car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited ability to move her hands and one of her closest friends dead. She would spend the…
By Sara Tan

7 Common Marriage Rules That Aren't Good For Relationships

When it comes to marriage, everyone loves to give their two cents, and with all the warnings and advice floating around out there, no wonder people find marriage intimidating. Luckily, you don't always have to play by the rules, and there's some bad …
By Carina Wolff

The Infuriating Way Hollywood Movie Sets Are Designed To Make Life Harder For Women

Whitney Cummings is fed up — with the way Hollywood treats women, and in particular, the way the it treats female directors who have children. While the entertainment industry may be working hard to get more women behind the camera, Cummings wants to…
By Casey Cipriani

19 Things Your Parents Told You Were Illegal In The '90s

Kids say — and think — the darnedest things. We have overactive imaginations, adults like to mess with us, and we don't always understand everything we hear. That's why some kids call strawberries "straw babies" — a boo-boo so adorable, you don't eve…
By Megan Grant

Why Uggs Are Never Going Away, Whether You Like Them Or Not

Uggs. The word alone can conjure up memories of teenage years, regrettable outfits, and undeniable comfort. But if, like me, you thought that you've already said goodbye to those fleece-lined tan boots, you can think again. It seems fashion has adopt…
By Lauren Sharkey

I Never Want To Write This Essay Again

I don't know where you were when you heard about Wednesday's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I don't know what you were doing, or how you tried to process the news. I do know this: you thought to yourself, not again. And yet, again. Of cou…
By Jenny Hollander

Netflix's New Romantic Movie Will Have You Crying Like It's 'The Fault In Our Stars'

Cancer movies are a heartbreaking staple of Hollywood and have been for decades. It's almost a law of nature: new year, new cancer movie. This year, it's Netflix's Irreplaceable You, a heartbreaking original about a longtime couple who get thrown for…
By Olivia Truffaut-Wong

Here Are All The Terms You Need To Know If You’re Watching Olympic Ski Events Right Now

Every four years the Winter Olympics rolls around to remind me that A) there are so many important Winter Olympic sports, and B) I know virtually nothing any of them. And I know for a fact, I'm not alone, I bet most people don't know what the differe…
By Danielle Colin-Thome

Kate Middleton Made Sales Of This $1 Secret Accessory Spike & She'll Turn You Into A Believer

There's a royal epidemic going on, people. It's one that causes any and everyone to obsess over the royal family's wardrobe and beauty routines, even if it means breaking the bank to look like them. So a frenzy was expected when Kate Middleton report…
By Summer Arlexis

Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu Have Matching Tattoos & The Story Is So Cute

Olympic season gives people the feels. From those shipping Canadian ice dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to Shaun White's gold medal win on Tuesday, the feels are real. Now, there's another reason to get all up in your emotions. Adam Rippon a…
By Shea Simmons

A New Study Says Being In A Relationship Could Change Your Taste In Wine — Here's How

I’d be willing to bet that for many of you, a nice bottle of wine is awaiting you in your near future — and if you’re planning on sharing that bottle with a partner, there might be more to your choice than meets the eye: According to recent research,…
By Lucia Peters

Carrie Brownstein On Why Even The Obama Era Should Have Enraged You

An icy January morning soon after Hollywood's show of solidarity for the #MeToo movement at the Golden Globes and almost exactly one year into the Trump Administration feels like a momentous time to be sitting across from Carrie Brownstein. The Sleat…
By Samantha Rollins

Here’s What The Upcoming Year Of The Dog Means For Your Chinese Zodiac Sign

On Feb. 16 the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, welcoming the Year of the Dog in like the good doggo it is — we hope. A new year means new zodiac predictions for the 365 days ahead. So, what does the Year of the Dog mean for your Chinese zo…
By Brittany Bennett

7 Signs You're Ready To Get Into A Relationship, According To Experts

It can be difficult to tell when you're ready to start dating again. Maybe you're coming off of a bad breakup, maybe you've just been focused on other things. And, ironically, one of the signs that you're ready to be in a relationship is that you're …
By Lea Rose Emery

I Got A Breast Reduction & It Was About So Much More Than The Size Of My Boobs

As a young teenager, I pretty much reached peak physical maturity overnight. One day I was wearing my first training bra a la Lizzie McGuire, and the next I was sweatily fumbling around a Victoria’s Secret with 32DD boobs, trying to summon up the cou…
By Sierra Taylor Horton

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
via Romper

The 15 Best Fiction Books Of February Feature Tons Of Extraordinary Women

When the cold winds of February blow in, there's nothing I want more than to hide under my covers with a good book. Luckily, there's more than a few fantastic new fiction books coming out this month, so the only tough decision you'll have to make is …
By Melissa Ragsdale

17 Moms Reveal The Most Disgusting Part Of Their Pregnancy

Pregnant bodies do weird-ass things. Weird-ass, gross things. I mean, my pregnant body did (twice), and I have long-suspected I'm not alone. So I asked other moms to share the most disgusting part of their pregnancy and I learned that, not only am I …
via Romper