Na’Tee recently gave us an exclusive interview so we could pick her brain and really break down who Na’Tee is not only as an artist but as a woman. There’s some people who may have never heard of her which is why with the immense talent she possesses she could easily be considered raps greatest hidden treasure. But, there’s some people like me who heard one song and was hooked off her bars or who recently heard her latest project “The Coronation” through publications like The Source Magazine. Na’Tee stands out among a generation where the voice of the streets with a feminine twist and bars so ferocious that they stick with you because there’s not much of that in this era. Place her in an era amongst the likes of Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Eve and Remy Ma and they would be dominating no doubt about it. As You read this interview you will understand the woman behind the bars, which have often gotten mixed responses for being so no holds barred. She will drop names and use metaphors that could either offend you, sting you or amaze you because nothing is off limits with her and she is unapologetic about it. Get to know the Young Woman from New Orleans who has been grinding for years to be recognized and is right on the edge of being there. Get to know the Girl that overcame Poverty, Drug Addicted Parents, The Suicide of her Father, Drug Dealing and Raising her brothers when she was still a kid herself. Get to know why She feels by just being herself she contributes so much to her bestfriend, aka HIP HOP and how it saved her from her own demise. But, She doesn’t want pity. She Just wants to go down in history as one of the best lyricists. Read On as She breaks down who Na’Tee is, why she turned down that deal with Timbaland, Her Favorite Female MCs and so much more. Read the full interview after the Jump:
What artists do you listen to currently?
I love that old classic sh*t like Biggie’s Ready to Die or even as far back as Teena Marie and Betty Wright’s projects but currently I’m working on my project, The Coronation, so I’ve been playing a whole bunch of Na’Tee in my household! I’m just preparing these records for the world so I’m usually either listening to that or tracks that were submitted by producers. I did download the new JadaKiss mixtape but I haven’t played it yet.
Who do you think are the top 5 female rap artist of all time?
In no specific order and solely based on lyrics, I’d say Lauryn Hill, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Eve, and me. Ha! Now I know a couple people might get tight about my list, but I just turned 25 so I grew up on those ladies right there. In middle school I thought I was Lauryn Hill. I had dreadlocks and everything. In high school, my best friend cracked my copy of FoxyBrown’s Broken Silence album because I used to play it so much. But, honestly I couldn’t just narrow it down to 5 because Ms.Jade, Shawnna, Mia X, and a few others deserve to be on that list too. They all meant a lot to me coming up.
Who is your favorite female artist?
A few years ago I would of said Lauryn Hill or Fox. Now days I’d say me hands down. It’s not even to convince your readers to check out my music or to Segway into more talk about myself. It’s really because I feel like as an over all artist, I give the listener so much of myself and I do it in ways that evoke emotion. I do it in ways that make you laugh, cry, dance, but most importantly, I do it in ways that make you think all while displaying lyricism. For example, my record SWITCH (The Timbaland Mix) was just me going in lyrically while making you laugh and rap along at the same time. Then there are records like Dear Father where I captured the emotions I felt at 10 years old when I learned that my father committed suicide. We haven’t had a female artist to do that, I mean all of that, in a very long time. So honestly, if I wasn’t Na’Tee, I’d still say ‘Na’Tee is now my favorite female artist.’
What has hip hop done for you outside of hip hop?
HipHop started off as just a way for me to vent. My parents were crack addicts and I was so embarrassed about my upbringing as a child that I never used to talk about it. I had to get those thoughts out though. So I used to write about it. I was always that girl who’d battle my other rapping classmates at school but those verses I wrote about my family were more like pages from my diary so I never use to rap those. At that time hip hop was my therapy. Sh*t, it still is. That’s why I’m so passionate when I mention these whack rappers who are f*cking up the game. Hip hop is like my best friend. My confidant. I used to sell drugs and there were many nights that I opted to go to the studio instead of spending just one more night in the streets. Those very nights I lost some of my closest friends and a few of my cousins to the prison system and to the grave. So I’d say hip hop prevented my demise.
How do you contribute to keeping hip hop alive?
I contribute to keeping hip hop alive by being true to myself and never compromising because I am hip hop. I’m hip hop in its rawest form. If I compromise, or let’s use street terms, if I let the industry water whipped me or add fillers and additives, I’d lose my rawness. I’d lose my integrity. I’d lose my uniqueness. So I contribute to keeping hip hop alive by being myself because I am hip hop.
Name one bad life or career experience You’ve had that you feel made you better? And how did it make you better?
After hearing my record Dear Father, some would probably think my answer to this question would be about my father’s suicide. Honestly the verdict is still out on whether his death made me a better person or not. I still struggle with that sh*t mentally. There was even times when I got arrested for selling drugs. Even now I can’t say if those arrests made me a better person because at the time, I was just trying to take care of myself and my brothers. What I can say is all the times I had people tell me that I couldn’t make it definitely made me a better person in the long run. I’m one of those hard headed chicks that has to find out the hard way. So if you give me advice and you can’t prove to me why I should take your advice, just expect for me to figure out my own answers. So when people used to tell me I’d never amount to anything, I realized that they just couldn’t prove that to me. They couldn’t prove that they were right. So in my quest to prove them wrong, I realized that their comments made me exceed my own expectations.
What message or statement do you want to make with your music?
I just want people to enjoy it and take from it what they may. Thats the best part about making music. I do this for not only me but for you. So I like to hear the thoughts and opinions that people have about my work because it may have struck them in ways that I may not have intended. As far as the statement I want to make with my career, I want the readers, the viewers, and the listeners to know that hard work and having a great heart pays off. That’s in any occupation.
Previously we discussed this one on one but for those who may have misunderstood, what did the line about Miss Jade in Shot Caller really mean?
Well, there were situations where I was presented major contracts that were unfair. Now days no record companies are fair but there were a few that were real unfair. Not just one contract, a few. The bars you’re speaking of went:
Turned down a deal/ Got a few more on the table
These labels telling fables just to get me in their stable
Exploit me on their cable/ Take everything I prayed fo’
….Who I look like?/ Ms.Jade heaux?
I said that because just being a fan/viewer, I wondered why Ms.Jade hadn’t took the game by storm like I had expected. Getting older and having my own experiences as an artist where people draft contracts basically try to legally molest you and make you relinquish control, I kind of felt her struggle. So that bar was like, ‘Im not going to be quieted like the game tried to quiet other dope artist. Artist like Ms.Jade.’ Some people got that line f*cked up and saw it as a jab at Jade. However, because of Jade’s situation, she knew what I meant and we even publicly discussed it on Twitter where she said, “I didn’t see what Na’Tee said as a diss. They did try to take everything I prayed for but Im still beast it.” So that was that.
In your music your brutally honest and nothing and no one seems like it’s off limits when your spitting metaphors. Why Is that?
The key phrase in your question was ‘in your music.’ You may see where I’m going with this already. This is my music. Untainted. The game lacks that brutally honest spirit that artist like Tupac had. Or the spirit that Biggie or the pre hiatus Eminem had. Those guys said things that were grotesque about people that the mainstream media loved and they sold millions doing so. The reason being is because it was the truth and they did it in such an lyrical, entertaining, and crafty way. I’m unapologetic about my bars because this is my music. I don’t say things for shock value. I say them because these other lame ass manufactured artist are afraid to say it.
What’s the true definition of your BMB? What does it truly mean to be business minded in your eyes?
BMB™ is an acronym for the phrase Business Minded Bosses. I think it’s more important to start a business rather than minding someone else’s. I’m in a game where it pays to know your business. So the whole BMB™ thing didn’t come about just to sell some shirts or other merch. It’s way more important than that. It’s a lifestyle. Me and mine are about our business.
Previously it was reported you would sign with Timbaland but then that changed, can you talk about that?
Nothing too dramatic or at least not as dramatic as people would hope. A contract was presented which, in plain sight, didn’t seem fair. After countering and going back and forth via lawyers, I decided not to sign. I still have the utmost respect for Tim and some of the members in his camp.
What does the future hold for Na’Tee?
I want to be known as one if the best lyricist period. Of course, money, fame, awards, and recognition is in order but I’d really like to be known as being a great artist and an even better person that’s changing HipHop and her community.
For those who haven’t heard The Coronation, what can they expect?
First of all, if you haven’t heard it yet, you should visit www.3DNATEE.com and get it. Ever since I dropped I’ve been hearing it being described as classic, as the best project out, and as my best project yet. That was my whole fear with this project. My last mixtape was named Mixtape of the Year at The Nola HipHop Awards and was the reason why I was named Lyricist of the Year, and Best Female Artist. My video for Switch also won Video of the Year., so my whole time was spent working to top myself. And with The Coronation, that’s what you can expect. You can expect for me to top my previous work while at the same time still taking you on a journey, entertaining, evoking emotion, and out rapping these nggs. Ha!
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
People would be surprised to know that I actually respect a lot of these artist out. I think people hear my punchlines and get it confused as if I’m just the little disrespect new btch. The lyrical, talented, and thought provoking new btch, be that as it may, but I’m sure they hear certain lines and think I am coming in to disrespect the rappers in the limelight. Which is not the truth. I am entering a game where there are already a trillion yes men in place yet I’m coming from an unapologetic environment where we say what we feel. These rappers let their yes men make them too sensitive. These yes men make them too comfortable and take their spots in the game for granted. I don’t know how to not say what I feel. This is a competitive industry so if I say there isn’t a btch in the game phucking with me, it isn’t coming from a negative place. First of all it’s truth in my mind and plenty of others. Second of all, it’s just my competitive nature. That doesn’t mean I hate these rappers. I wouldn’t see them in the club or in the streets and have a problem with them unless they had a problem with me. So there’s never any hatred towards any of them and I think people would be surprised to know that.
When are you most at peace?
Whenever I am either with my brothers or alone, I am usually at peace the most. I’m the oldest and the only girl out of 3 kids so I’m that big sister that adores her baby brothers. I’m at peace the most when I’m with them.
What do you enjoy the most outside of hip hop?
Traveling. I want to see what so many where I come from may never get to see.
Would you become a first lady of a male dominated crew or would you prefer to be totally solo?
In order to become the first lady of a crew, I would want to be promoted as well as the male counterparts on the label. Not just as “The First Lady who is only here because we wanted to sign a girl.” I’m not opposed to being signed to a crew that’s male dominated because I’ll hold my own so much so, that gender would not be a factor anymore. I just would want to sign somewhere where the label understands who I am as an artist and not try to mold me to fit a crew. If that can’t happen, then I’m not opposed to being my own crew and making it work solo dolo.