On her new album Creature!, Nitty Scott sketches a universe where Afro-Latinas belong. Her new album is a storybook narrative that easily fits into the genre of magical realism, as told by an Afro-Boricua americana. The 13-track project collides Afro-Caribbean percussion, island field recordings, and dense 808s into a rich proclamation of self.
Nitty says Creature! is something she identifies with because “the word itself kind of translates into being undefinable,” she explains in a phone interview with Remezcla. “I’m owning and discussing the experience of being Afro-Boricua, woman, bisexual, then bruja.”
On her single “La Diaspora,” featuring Zap Mama, Nitty celebrates her afrodescendiente roots over a delicate flute and a chorus of children’s chants. “Mango Nectar” and “Write!” open with soft vocals while bringing the beat back to hip-hop territory. Bars like “island roots and city stoops” or “Dishwater doesn’t reflect back” are nostalgic metaphors that serve as a testament to her lyricism.
Though Creature! dabbles in the magical, it also forges a space that speaks to real-life experiences, as Nitty searches for a sense of self and celebrates collective identity at the same time. “All of these things we identify with are real, they are real, but they’re also very much created and reflections of a system that has been created, so I’m discussing my experience in that system while also acknowledging that who I am transcends all of that,” she says.
“I’m not only going to survive, I’m going to thrive.”
The project explores all the complexities of afro-diasporic identity, from Nitty’s Caribbean roots to her daily reality as an Afro-Latina in the United States, in an urgent search for her roots. On Creature!, Nitty introduces us to Negrita, a character that represents her own quest for decolonized truth. The character falls into a Bronx-set version of Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole, and lands in a fictional world that represents pre-colonial Puerto Rico, where she comes in contact with her indigenous past.
“It’s all just a big metaphor, her going to pre-colonized Puerto Rico. It is something I found myself wishing I could do,” she explains. “There’s definitely a movement that rejects all this shit, that rejects heteronormative, patriarchal, white supremacy. We just reject the fuck out of it and we re-educate ourselves and so I think this album is a reflection of that as well.”
Nitty Scott says it comes from a place of desperation, a desire to reclaim knowledge and ancestral practices that have been lost. It’s a struggle many can relate to as “hijas de la diaspora.” Nitty explores her Taino musical heritage via earthy field recordings; several songs open with the sound of running water, coquí croaks, and indigenous chants. Some may read this as an exotification, but in fact, her experimentation with Taino aesthetics exemplifies a complex identity struggle rooted precisely in the history of colonization and the erasure that came with it.
The organic textures of Creature! coalesce into a healing journey for those who share Nitty’s experiences as a woman of color. Nitty pushes back on the exotification, shedding light on struggles that many choose to ignore because of the nuance required to address them. On the ballad “For Sarah Baartman,” she criticizes those who reject her blackness with raw vocal emotion. “I’m plenty blended, but don’t call me exotical, like I’m half-black, half-beautiful.” The song is an ode to a woman from the Dutch Cape Colony in Africa who was subjected to unspeakable ridicule by being exhibited across Europe during the 19th century.
Ever since she started rapping professionally at the age of 19, Nitty Scott has been exploring femininity, spirituality, and empowerment. If her previous album The Art of Chill was a coming-of-age tale about depression and her struggles with sexual abuse, Creature! is the story of woman who is ready to command space.
Still, some fans are not happy with her musical evolution and new image. On the phone, Nitty expresses frustration with followers who see every step of her career as a publicity stunt, and not as her transformation into a woman who is now comfortable in her own sexuality. “The sound is different, the image is different, even the message is slightly different, but none of those things are like strategic career moves…If you witness me have this spiritual awakening that I did on The Art of Chill, then it would make complete sense that in the later chapters of my life, I’m becoming more and more comfortable with my sexuality and nudity,” she adds.
But Nitty will no longer be told what she can or can’t do. In the male-dominated rap universe, Nitty sees competition between women as a serious problem. To that end, Creature! challenges rivalry as a focal point of women’s experiences in hip-hop. “When we’re talking about the whole Nicki and Remy situation, that was the biggest thing that happened in the scope of women in hip-hop in a long time. It was negative; it was conflict; it was tearing each other down,” she says. “And I’m not saying that we all have to like Kumbaya, and have a ‘Ladies Night’ part two, but there was a point in time when two female rappers not liking each other was not the leading conversation. When Missy, Kim, Foxy, Left Eye, Eve – when they were all existing – the leading conversation was not about ‘a bitch don’t like another bitch,’ and I think it’s really sad that that’s where we’ve gotten. I just really want to challenge that and say that it’s OK for us to support each other.”
“I’m becoming more and more comfortable with my sexuality and nudity.”
The album is an experimental and ambitious project that reflects Nitty’s own musical influences as an Afro-Boricua, hailing from the midwest, raised in the deep south, and living in New York City. Between electronic atmospheres, tumba hits, guitar riffs, and trap 808s, her deft rhymes remain ever-present. “This is the first album that I was able to curate from beginning to end…So it’s really deep in that it’s almost me proving to myself that I can do this because it’s very scary, because I think these men try to control and try to piss out women in the industry,” she explains. “They really lead you to believe that you won’t be OK without them, and this is me saying I am going to be OK; I’m not only going to survive, I’m going to thrive.”
Ultimately, Creature! blends hard truths with beautiful resistance, creating a potent cocktail that tastes like mango nectar and just a little bit like home. It is a fierce celebration of black and brown femme agency, from island roots to city stoops.
Nitty Scott’s Creature! is out now. Stream it here.