A Black woman trying to get through to a few...
Here is a good--albeit six years old--interview with Nonchalant from Morgan State University's newspaper, The Spokesman*:
Catching Up with Nonchalant
By: Nicole Mosley
When people think of Washington, D.C.’s music scene, images of thumping go-go music is the first that comes to mind. But in 1996, a young lady changed all of that. Nonchalant’s gold-selling “5 O’Clock” woke everyone’s conscious up, and also opened hip-hop’s mind to let them know that D.C. music isn’t just about sardines, pork & beans, and putting one leg up with the booty on the floor. For a minute it appeared as though Nonchalant would be the one to open up D.C.’s rap floodgates, and release all of the hidden talent in the city.
Fast forward to the year 2001 and Nonchalant is invisible to the hip-hop nation. She can be found on “Where Are They Now Lists” next to names such as The Boys and Kwame’, and you might’ve caught her mugshot on the side of a milk carton in XXL magazine. Could this mean that Nonchalant was down for the count and through with rap forever? Not a chance.
People in the D.C. area can catch her every weekday on the radio from 6 to 10 .p.m. on WPGC 95.5. As for the music scene, this lady straight out of Northeast Washington has her business mind state set perfectly and is ready to make some major moves in the industry.
Where have you been all of this time? XXL magazine even went as far as to put your picture on the side of a milk carton.
Basically, I’ve been home. I’ve really been trying to find myself as a writer, because I’ve had my publishing deal ever since I had my record deal. I got it at the same time and I really didn’t explore writing like I should have. I was writing for myself, but I wasn’t writing for anybody else. So I had to prove myself as a writer of other music. That’s what I’ve been doing. After I was here at the station I learned how to DJ, I went and got me some turntables, learned that and just stayed in my basement and got a whole bunch of production equipment. Learned how to do that and how to engineer, and stayed home and wrote and had people voice my songs. Just really exploring the writing side for publishing. Tonya Blount and myself formed a little writing team, and that’s basically where I’ve been.
In 1998 you dropped the single “Take It There” featuring the Roots, and that created a buzz in the industry. And there were also ads for a second album. How come that second album was never released?
Because I left the record company. We weren’t seeing eye to eye as to wear I wanted to go on this record. I told them I wanted to leave, and they obliged me with that. I was lucky enough to get off like I wanted to. So that’s predominantly what happened with that. We didn’t put the record out; we didn’t go any further.
What is it that you wanted to do that MCA Records felt didn’t agree with them?
I think what it was is that…the person I was on Until the Day and the person that I am now…I’ve grown. To me, I feel like people didn’t know who Nonchalant was. People were really expecting another “5 O’Clock” from me. “5 O’Clock” was a beautiful record, and that’s just a small part of who I am. I felt like on the second record people really had to embrace who I am to really feel everything else I was bringing. It was kind of some creative differences, what have you. I felt like they weren’t really ready to compete in the marketplace. With every other female, and every other artist that was coming out. You had to be monetarily ready to compete. Creatively ready to compete. I just didn’t feel that. We weren’t seeing eye to eye, so we just rolled out.
You came out at a time that was right before the entire sex talking female rapper craze that we are witnessing now. How do you feel about this new industry standard that says in order to be a successful female rapper, you have to dress provocatively and talk about sex?
I can’t even front, on the next album that I was coming with, which was going to be For All Non Believers, in the video “Take It There” you could see the softer side of Nonchalant. It wasn’t the extreme to where Kim and Foxy was. It wasn’t to the extreme of that, but before women felt like they had to look like a man. They felt like they had to put the big clothes on and compete. But then after awhile they saw that “I can still be me and still do my thing.” It was a situation where I feel good about the fact that they feel liberated enough to express themselves how they want to express themselves. Lyrically as well as the visionary situation.
Do you think there’s a double standard in rap, whereas males can talk about anything they want, but if a female talks about the same thing she is given a negative label?
Definitely. In rap, hip-hop music, all of that. It’s true to life and that’s how it is in life for women, and in other situations of life. In jobs and standards of life we’re second-guessed. We’re questioned for things that we would do where men wouldn’t be questioned. So I don’t see why it would be any different in the music business where we’re put under this microscope, and if we’re doing something its blown out of proportion, or “Why is she doing that? She don’t need to be doing that?” Whereas a male can do the same thing.
For awhile it was appearing as though D.C. was ready to blow up nationally in the rap scene. Questionmark Asylum had a successful single, and later you would came along with another hit. But after that, D.C. rap faded from the national eye. What do you think happened as far as D.C. missing out on claiming a major spot on the hip-hop map?
It’s really hard to say because D.C. does have so much talent. When people think of D.C., they automatically think of go-go and [think] that’s the only thing that we do. We’re second-guessed. Even sometimes a lot of rappers that come out of D.C., they sound like go-go rappers. It’s really hard. Outside of D.C., meaning once you hit Philadelphia and V.A. and Atlanta and all of that, it’s just like “Ya’ll doing that go-go thing.” And that’s what we’re known for. People really don’t look to us. It’s unfortunate that I had the big record and then didn’t have that big push by the record company to keep me visible to keep a light shined on D.C. long enough for somebody else to come out and really take the baton in hip-hop and keep it going.
What do you think it would take for D.C. to make that next move in gaining national recognition for its rap scene?
Honestly speaking, I don’t know really. Well, number one, Nonchalant needs to do her thing definitely. But, to make that next move its going to take a huge record like a “5 O’Clock to get that. It’s not going to take a mediocre record, it’s going to take a Ludacris to just blow out the water. Or it’s going to take a family, like a No Limit or Cash Money family of several rappers that’s hot. It’s going to take something like that, but what you’re really going to need is to showcase the fact that they’re from D.C.
Do you have any plans to release another album?
Definitely. I’m working on it right now. To go back to the first question, one thing I was doing was, I had to sit back because record companies change so much. With the millennium there were a lot of shake-ups and break ups within record companies, and a lot of females coming. I really wanted to sit back, focus on the writing, but sit back and watch what other record companies was doing and see where it was stable, because you had mergers and Seagram’s buying up everything. You never know what record company is going to be liquidated tomorrow. So I said “Let me sit back and watch and see what’s going to happen and see what record companies would be good for Nonchalant based upon what they’re doing with their other artists.” I don’t want to be on a label with a bunch of other females where I’m just another apple in the crew. I want to be that one apple. I’m definitely working on something right now and I see two record companies. We’re having conversations and hopefully one will be home for Nonchalant where I can put out some more “5 O’Clock”s. Not “5 O’Clock,” but something of that magnitude.
© Copyright 2007 Spokesman
* They really should change the paper's name to The Spokesperson.