When Nitty Scott, MC began working on her upcoming album, The Art Of Chill, she felt it was time to reveal information about her life that she hadn’t rapped about before.
"I am going ahead and opening up with my story about sexual abuse,” Scott says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “It's something that I think happens way too often…I think [this album is] going to speak to so many women out there that can relate, and that have buried that and carried that with them.”
Scott’s carried this part of her story for years. She isn’t sure when she was first sexually abused, but that it likely began when she was about five years old.
Like many victims of sexual abuse, Scott didn’t report the crimes when they took place. Less than 10 percent of sexual molestation is reported, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Also and like many victims of sexual abuse, Scott was sexually abused by people she knew. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, perpetrators of female rape victims are intimate partners 51.1 percent of the time, acquaintances 40.8 percent of the time, strangers 13.8 percent of the time and family members 12.5 percent of the time.
"It's always a family member or an authority figure, somebody that you trust, typically,” Nitty says. ”It was definitely an authority figure. [It was] somebody that I trusted, and I think when it happens that way, it definitely messes up your idea of trust, and your ability to trust. But, as an adult that is not responsible for my past, but completely responsible for the present and the future, that’s something that I've had to work on and build because it definitely instills a feeling of distrust in you, that you just grow up with. You know, a part of all of the therapy and music is about unlearning those bad habits, and those bad truths, and not allowing things that are beyond your control, that you didn't ask for, to literally rob you of your present joy.
“That’s what makes it so dangerous,” Scott continues, adding that she was sexually abused by a family member and at least one other person. “It’s usually a person when guards are down, and it occurs to somebody that the victim might have a conflict with even accusing them of that, or being honest about that because of the person’s relationship. It really happens way too often.”
Nitty Scott, MC Describes Eminem & Tupac's Influence
As she grappled with the mental and physical tumult over her abuse, Scott found solace in music. When Eminem released 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP, for instance, she found herself releasing much of the anger that she had about her life as she recited the lyrics to “The Way I Am.”
“I remember communicating and living vicariously through [Eminem] at some point,” Scott says. “I would get into these really heated arguments sometimes with my parents, and slam my door, and go in my room and blast Eminem. It was my way of saying the things I couldn't say. Saying all of the things that I would have probably, literally gotten slapped in the face for saying, but I can come in here and blare this so loud, and you can't shut Em up. You can't make him be quiet, and he feels how I feel, so fuck you.”
Scott also found peace in other works, including Tupac’s “Changes,” where the late rapper wonders if life is worth living. “Should I blast myself?” ‘Pac asks on the track, one that was therapeutic for Scott to listen to when she was particularly frustrated.
Nitty Scott, MC Explains Therapy's Aid In Bouts With Clinical Depression
Scott’s battle with sexual abuse was coupled with a battle with depression. In 2009, she was diagnosed with clinical depression. She felt it was a sign of her lifelong struggles coming to a head.
“When I was 17, I think all those feelings sort of hit me,” she says, acknowledging suicidal thoughts crept into her mind around this time. “Just the reality of a lot of things that I had never really wanted to acknowledge or deal with.”
In order to come to terms with a lot of the turmoil she had experienced, Scott says she sought help through therapy.
"Part of me was proud of myself for taking that step and doing something that I had a lot of pre-judgement towards," Scott says. "I still had a little bit of disdain for it. I think part of me was bitter about the fact that I had to go. I think that I was angry about the fact that things had gotten so bad that I had to take it there and that feeling slowly wore off when I saw how beneficial it was for me."
During her sessions, Scott spoke to her therapist about being a victim of verbal, physical and sexual abuse. After a few sessions, Scott arrived at an uncomfortable and unfamiliar place. That uncomfortable space is “where the healing takes place,” she says. “When you delve deep and you choose to own and make peace with what is there, it gives you this sense of power and freedom over your problems and over yourself.”
Scott acknowledges that therapy may not be for everybody, but she says it helped her.
"To me, [therapy] just means there's hope," she says. "There's light and there's possibility. When you think that you just can't go on any further, there are tools. There are resources and sometimes just knowing that can get you through the day."
Though she no longer sees a therapist, she credits the process with helping her escape the suicidal thoughts that once consumed her.
Nitty Scott, MC Describes Her Family, Upbringing & Move To New York
Although she was able to suppress her suicidal thoughts, Scott remained angry, a rage fueled by the turbulent household in which she was raised. Her parents split up when she was around five years old. The divorce was a “tumultuous” one, by her account. “A lot of back and forth, being caught up in the middle, and it was just a very ugly thing for me to experience,” Scott says.
Scott switched addresses frequently, attended at least nine different schools in two different states and felt she was “just being uprooted all the time.”
“My parents also remarried, at least twice, both of them,” Scott adds. “So, my family was just always changing. Never really any stability. You know, I have half-brothers and step-sisters and people who were my siblings at some point, but they're not my siblings anymore because they were [my siblings via] marriage, and it's just very complicated. You know, that's just the way I was raised.”
When Scott was 17, she was living with her father and working as a character performer at The Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. This could have been seen as a pleasant turning point in her life. After all, she had been working at “The Happiest Place on Earth” following many dark moments in her early years.
Yet the troubles in her life continued, including a near-fatal car accident. "I didn't see the stop sign and technically continued going when the other [car] had the right of way,” Scott says. “So, a couple in their van smashed into the side of me.”
The case went to court and the city was deemed responsible for the accident because the stop sign had been knocked down prior to the collision. Nonetheless, Scott was fired from her job at Disney World soon after the incident because she says it was difficult to commute to and from the theme park without a car.
“Everything just kind of came crashing,” Scott says. “There was a lot of dysfunction in my family and it all just kind of hit me at once. The only thing I had were these composition books full of poems and it gave me focus in the midst of really not understanding the directions that my life was going in…I definitely hit rock bottom emotionally. The only thing that gave me hope was being able to come to New York City and establish a life for myself. No matter how difficult it would be.”
Nitty Scott, MC Details Overcoming Hardship In New York
Although she hoped a change of scenery would remove complications from her life, Scott’s move from Florida to New York proved troublesome. She had trouble enrolling in a high school without her parents being present. As she bounced from one friend’s couch to another, she had several panic attacks and lost an unhealthy amount of weight.
“It was very difficult," she says. "It was humbling. It was harsh…It taught me a lot about myself…I was really just overwhelmed with how dire my situation was, my condition was, and the fact that the world literally kept spinning.
"In a perfect world, you would think that when you leave that abusive situation that you are going to enter a world of unconditional love and mercy and understanding and that's not necessarily true," Scott adds. "So, not only was I just unprepared for the real world, but I also had this expectation that just because I was a good person and I had sort of built up the guts to leave my dysfunctional home, that everything would be alright and it definitely...I got slapped in the face by reality, as far as that went. And, in the midst of all of this, all I really want to do was rap. All I really want to do was be an artist, and create and express and connect. I got so sidetracked. I don't even want to call it sidetracked because, I got sidetracked with survival. You know, I came out here with a vision for my music and my art and basic survival became so difficult that I got very depressed."
Through the aforementioned therapy and through Rap, Scott found a way to manage her emotions and channel them into her music.
"I've progressed within the music industry more and more every year, and essentially, I have accomplished what I said I was going to come out here and do," Scott says. "I still have goals for my career, but the dream of being a girl that could leave a fucked up home in suburbia and come to the big city and become a part of this community, and have fans, and have a legitimate career, that has happened. I have accomplished that for myself and it was not easy in any way, shape or form. But, as far as proving to myself that I am strong enough, and I am made for this, it has completely manifested itself and that's a part of what The Art of Chill is about."
Scott also finds joy in sharing stories of her struggle and hardship on her upcoming album, and hopes that it may help others the way Eminem and Tupac helped her.
“Creating it was definitely therapeutic in itself,” she says of The Art of Chill. “Writing it, recording it. There was one record, ‘Still I Rise,’ where I could barely get the verses out because I was literally sobbing in the booth, but I actually kept those takes and used them for the final version of the song so that people could actually feel and understand the vulnerability."
“It's just going to be gratifying [to release The Art Of Chill] because it's going to be the way I literally took the things that affected me negatively and turned that energy into something beautiful,” Scott continues. “I created beautiful music that I'm going to share with people, that is going to help them to heal…[The album] is a journey of self-discovery, looking for inner-chillness in the midst of a world where I can't control what is happening to me externally, always sort of feeling misplaced and looking for a sense of stability, and looking within yourself for that.”