Interview done by : JOAKIM
Ispeakhiphop caught up with Bragga herself, Nadia Nakai to chat about the momentum she’s collected following her Naaa Meaan video featuring Cassper Nyovest , her Bragga blog documentary, her debut album dropping due this year and the big Castle Lite Unlocks concert coming up on April 30th with Chance The Rapper, Shane Eagle and Frank Casino.
There’s no denying that right now no other female rapper has more presence than Nadia, whether it be on social media or on stage and to be honest even the male rappers are having a hard time keeping up. If she continues like this MTV Base are going to have a hard time not including her in their 2018 SA’s Hottest Rappers list. At 27 Ms Nakai is creating a legacy for herself within SA Hip Hop.
Miss Bragga was kind enough to answer some questions we had for her recently, here’s how it went down.
Does being the only female hip hop supporting act for the castle lite unlock event add pressure on you?
No, I think it has given me a tap on the back, more like recognition to show that I’m doing something right with my career. That what I’m doing with my career, my brand and music is being recognized. The platform is just an opportunity for me to display my brand and my music and connect with others on a bigger a platform. Of course, there is pressure with every event where I perform but with Castle Lite there is more excitement then pressure.
What are some of the challenges you face when working towards an event such as Castle Lite unlocks?
Coordinating with the people that I need for the show, from the dancers to the music direction and production team. I have performed before but at the end of the day I want to bring a different experience to this show specifically, so it means that I had to step out my comfort zone. I’m not doing what I usually do with my other performance for this concert. Everything will be different from the lighting, to the choreography and sound. I’m absorbing a lot of ideas from different people and learning, so I can deliver the best show possible.
Naaa Meaan is probably one of the biggest songs to come out SA hip hop this year. Do you feel it’s the best and biggest song you’ve ever dropped?
I don’t know. I actually felt like ‘Money Back’ was the biggest song I ever dropped but it’s hard to compare both songs. Money back was dropped when I first joined Family Tree and I was by myself on the song. It got a lot of people seeing me differently and they did not expect that from me. ‘Naaa Meaan’ received lot of attention, especially from an artistic side, visuals and production. The song got a lot of people talking on all aspects, it had a lot of talkability compared to Money back which created its own culture for woman in hip hop regarding how they want to be represented. I guess , I could say Naaa Meaan is the biggest song I dropped so far but for different reasons.
Since joining Family Tree your career has continued to level up. We saw you partner with other records in the past such as Syd’s records never have you had so much hype around you. What’s been the difference?
At ‘Syd records’ Psyfo was doing almost everything by himself and taking care of his career as well. He was great at it, but a need came where he needed to priorities certain things which we both understood. The difference with Family Tree is that I have a team around me, allocated to me, to work on my brand, my music production and my business thus giving me a lot of space to grow and experiment. At Syd records Psyfo did everything to the best of his abilities because it was just the two of us. Family Tree is just a bigger team and a team that has learnt a lot because they went through the worst and the best with Cassper so they know how to best approach certain situations and deal with the different climates in hip hop.
We know there’s an album in the works, what are some of the challenges you’re finding in the process?
So, its public knowledge that Cassper scratched my first album because he felt it was not good enough which I agree with. The toughest thing for me is the growth that I need to go through, in order to record the album. Growth as in myself as a woman in the industry and the things that I go through, as in what I would like to share and as well as going through the process of music to decide what I want to be on the album. I think Cassper and the team have been able to broaden my knowledge with the things I need to have in the album. I appreciate the challenge cause its forcing me to grow and become better. It’s nice to know I have a team and someone there pushing and telling me yes this is good, or you know what you can do better. That’s the reason why a song like Naaa Meaan was well received and through that we had already started the process of putting together an album. We had to go through the process repeatedly until it was ready and Cassper said this is exactly the type of music you should be making and getting involve with. That’s the struggle I go through, going up and down to team or Cassper until we get the song right.
Why do you feel that now is the ideal time to release an album for you?
I honestly feel like right now my momentum keeps increasing. When I say I’m going to release an album, I’m not saying I’m going to release it now I’m saying it will be released this year. There is a journey, I want my fans to experience leading to the album. I could drop an album in the next two months or end of the year, but the process is what I need to make sure all is well executed. I’m not rushing now, I’m more focused on delivering a solid work of art. I’m just recording and recording until I feel I’m ready. Naaa Meaan did well but there is a plan and strategy regarding the album that I will execute when everything is ready.
In a relationship such as the one you have with Castle Lite, how does it work? They approach you and you say just yes or do you examine whether your brand and plan are aligned with theirs? what are the key things you’re looking for when working with a brand such as castle lite towards an event?
I studied marketing, media and business communication, so I’m very involved in my brand. It’s a thing of examining the brand and seeing if the brand fits, does it have longevity. I don’t want to align myself with a brand where one day I’m with Puma, the next day Adidas or Heineken, I’m a “long term” type of artist. I do get approached by a lot of brands and some I must unfortunately turn away because I feel like we don’t align or share similar goals. There are a lot of people that assist with those decisions I make. at the end of the day I make the final decision regarding my image and the brand I feel I can align with and do great work with.
It’s a fact that female rappers have a harder time in hip-hop than their male counterparts. And that leads to female rappers constantly being compared to one another instead.For example we had foxy Brown being compared to lil Kim long ago, Iggy Azealia to Nicky Minaj and in SA they compared you to Nicky
Do you think there will ever be a time female rappers will be compared to their male counterparts and do you think it’s okay to keep it within the genders?
Certainly, we not being compared to only female rapper no more. Nicky was compared to Kanye and Lil Wayne, she has been nominated for best rap album not best female rap album only and she won. She worked to the point where she is now recognized as a rapper and no more just a female rapper. She is in the industry where male rappers now look at her as a rapper not a female rapper. Last year on MTV Base Hottest MC’s they should have been more female rappers and I believe I deserved to have been on the list due to a multitude of things such as reach, work and other things that were contributed by us female rappers but all that did not matter. In fact, I had someone who was part of the panel call me and tell me that they thought I should have been on the list but unfortunately, it’s a joint decision and I did not make it. He could recognize there was a lot of opinion when it came to the list, this industry is run by a lot of opinion, but I stopped caring about that. At the end of the day if my fans are happy, I’m taking care of myself and I’m paying my bills that’s what matters to me.
What are some things you enjoy about where you’re at in your career right now?
It’s seeing how far I’ve come and seeing the people that have supported me since the beginning still be in my life. This goes from the time I dropped my first video with Psyfo to now dropping a video with Cassper those people that have supported me on my journey and have seen my growth and still remain my supporters through all the process of my musical journey.
Are there a few things you wish SA hip hop could improve on or focus on right now?
I wish they were more gigs. I feel like lately, things have changed people are no longer excited about going to gigs. I feel like people need to invest more in their gigs lots of artists need to do more shows, create their own tour and production such as Cassper and Nasty C have done.
What is the business relationship like with you and Cassper? Does he have a huge impact or say with how you work with Family Tree and has he changed how you view your career?
Cassper has his own music that he focuses on. Family Tree is the record label that I’m signed under. Cassper’s Manager T-lee has a management company called ‘Bridge Entertainment’ where he manages myself and Cassper, so I work with my own separate team and people. where Cassper comes in is, when I need advice on the type of music or artwork that I want to put out. He makes himself available to assist with these small things. When it come to the everyday running of my musical career ‘T lee’ is the one that is involved on the day to day running and my brand. He’s the manager. He examines if I have enough gigs, how my brand is received and if studio has been booked those type of things.
What is one thing you think your fans don’t know about you?
People say I have bitchy face and that I’m not approachable which is a lie. if you approach me correctly you will see I’m actually a nice person. I had people who approached me and later said wow you are actually a nice person.
What does Bragga mean? We know it as the title to your first EP but now we hear it quite a lot the Bragga lifestyle, Bragga queen.
BRAGGA means boss. When you watch ‘Fast and the Furious’. there was this scene where vin diesel had to deal with a Cuban Boss drug lord called Ragga, I made a reference to that cause I’m a boss call me Bragga. Now its caught on where even now my mom and my close friends have started to call me Bragga .
You said in an interview that ‘the reason you didn’t want to work with female rappers before is because you felt like nobody had created anything for themselves to make the collaboration impactful. Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj came together because they did so much on their own’. Now that you are open to working with other female rappers and have been doing some features as well, is there anything more you want to see happen in the SA female hip hop category and do you feel that they are enough female rappers getting the credit they deserve?
When I said that, I was also including myself. I felt that, we needed to create our own fan base, our own work so that we can first get the credit we deserve and not have people come to us just because its woman month or woman day and they need female rappers. I needed to get to a point where my brand stood out and I stood out as an artist, so when we come together as rappers or artist, we are not just recognized as just another female rapper but recognize as individual who each have brought something to the table. The industry needs to treat us like rappers and not categorized us as female rappers. Give us the credit we deserve without always trying to compare us or put us down. numbers don’t lie.
It’s no secret that you’re admired by many men and females. So much so that there was a song named after you by SA rapper E-jay. We saw the video he released and you were not in it despite all the speculation that you would be, what actually happened?
That had to do with his management. I had every intention to be in the video but there was just a lot of miscommunication between his team and mine. I was happy to do it, but everything became very disorganized. Also, when we were trying to solidify everything internally, E-Jay went on a rant on social media. I was then like “ok”, this had nothing to do with me personally, all negotiation was being handled by our management team , the twitter rant caused all talk to end.
Since joining Family Tree you have grown more as an artist with your lyrics and your flow, are these things that you are constantly working on?
Yes, I constantly must work towards my lyrics and flow to be a better version of myself and deliver something new every time. That is the one aspect that I constantly need to work on.
From your experience in the music industry so far what is the one thing that you have learned as an artist and a brand that you can advise other artist on ?
To be authentic and be yourself. In the beginning artist thrive by “I really want Cassper or Kwesta to hear my song or retweet it or feature on it” and they forget what the music is all about which is making your fans happy and delivering good quality songs. Just be yourself and the right people or brand will come. As a business I learnt that, you need to be careful of the people that you keep around and sometimes you must be selfish, because at the end of the day your business is you.
What can we expect from your performance at the castle lite unlock concert?
You can expect a lot. I feel like, the Castle Lite unlock concert is my show. Castle Lite have really invested in us with the sound, preparation and everything we need leading up to the show. They not treating us like we are the opening acts, we’re each being treated like we are the main act. I don’t want to give out too much info about the show, I’m just encouraging people to come see what we have in store for them. It’s not going to be like our everyday usual show. As performers, we had a lot of input on the production, they listened to our ideas and have enabled us to be ourselves at the event.