Da Brat (aka Shawntae Harris) spoke with Concrete Loop earlier this week in a very candid interview describing her time in prison. The rapper (who was released on Monday), shocked a lot of people back ’07 when she was sentenced to three years in prison for assaulting a nightclub waitress.
Proclaiming she now has control over her temper, Brat spoke about what she learned from the experience, writing a book and so much more. Make sure to check out the full interview below.
DA BRAT “PART 1″
(SPEAKS ON SERVING TIME, WRITING A BOOK & MORE)
DA BRAT: Hi Angel!
ANGEL: Hey what’s up Da Brat? Thank you for sitting with us and talking to us.
DA BRAT What’s happening? I’m chillin, chillin’. Just got finished eating me some steamed vegetables and tilapia.
ANGEL: Ok, I was going to ask you, what was one of the first things you did when you got out?
DA BRAT I went to this restaurant in the country called the Huddle House and had me some country fried steak w/ a lot of gravy on it and some mushrooms. It was good as hell.
ANGEL: [laughs] That’s wassup. Yeah that’s the first thing a lot of people do right? Get that food.
DA BRAT Un huh.
ANGEL: So, we know you completed three years in prison..
DA BRAT Two and a half, two and a half years. And I’m on an ankle monitor right now. They got me on house arrest right now. they just won’t leave me alone.
ANGEL:Yeah I read that you were going to be on probation for seven more years?
DA BRAT Yeah probation seven years. I’m on parole til August and I’m on an ankle monitor right now, I can’t leave the house. At least I’m in the comfort of my own spot and I’m getting everything setup right now.
ANGEL: Well we hit up the Concrete Loop twitter followers earlier and told them that we would be speaking with you and one of the questions they asked the most is ‘What have you learned from your prison experience”?
DA BRAT I learned not to take things for granted so much. A lot of things that I had right at my feet. When it’s kind of taken away from you and you can’t do those things anymore, you really really learn to appreciate them more. Like studio time, a lot of times J.D. might be like “Brat, come to the studio” and I was like “naw I’ll be there later.”[laughs] I would go to sleep and not go but when you in prison you wish you could go. You can do the things you have a passion for, you wish you could hug and kiss your family when you want to. I missed flying back and forth to Chicago every week to see my family. My grandmother had been sick so and losing love ones and all that and not being able to go to the funeral. And those things really hit hard when you can’t do things that you are so used to doing. I learned a lot of patience as well, you know in prison you can’t just flip out on somebody…you kinda just gotta be like “okay, okay..” You just mind your own business.
ANGEL: While you were in prison, did you have any major learning lessons in there or was it just you sitting down doing what you had to do?
DA BRAT I sat down and did my work and I wrote a book. I went to lock down a couple times. Most of the time though, for officers who were like haters. Not all of them, cause there was a lot of them were real cool and real down with me and down for me. But you had a few of them that tried to show out on me when I first got there and they did some locking down and stuff like that.
ANGEL: Wow. They see that power, that’s what it is. They see that they have that power over you.
DA BRAT Yeah they see that and some of the officers were real young. So they really tried to flex that power. [There] was a little bit of racism here and there and the ones that are black, some of them acting like they weren’t black. I had a little young punk try to front on me and lock me down. But it was all good. I was very proud of myself because I could have cussed his ass out. All the way walking up to the block. So I’ve learned patience and I learned to just chill. My temper is like nothing like it used to be. Cause I ain’t trying to go back there. I mean it wasn’t bad, I just missed the things that I loved doing. Nobody bothered me, it wasn’t like a maximum security facility like you see on “Lock Up” on T.V. It ain’t nothing like that.
ANGEL: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna ask like what type of security.
DA BRAT Half the women there couldn’t take it. They couldn’t deal with the pressures or whatever it is that was happening. You got a lot of cutters. A lot of girls walking up in there with slit wrists and slits up they arms. I guess that’s how they deal with the pain. There were people there trying to hang theyself, tie sheets to the bar and you wake up and somebody hanging ’cause they tried to kill theyself. Or set their beds on fire and then get in then. Like there was a lot of things that I saw. A lot of people didn’t have family, didn’t have nobody to care for them. You know, weren’t getting no food from the store. I got like 20-30 pieces of mail a day, I knew when they called my name I would need like a bag to carry my stuff. I was blessed. Even though it was a bad situation. It wasn’t a horrible horrible thing. You know there was a lot of be learned and I’m grateful for everything that has happened to me because in it there is always something to learn.
ANGEL: Exactly. You just said you wrote a book, so what is your book about?
DA BRAT Well see, when the little young punk locked me down. I was locked down for like 3 or 4 days and the title of my infraction on my D.R. (my disciplinary report) he called it insubordination. He said I had said some things I didn’t say and of course he lied on there cause I didn’t cuss him out at all. He put what he wanted to put on there. He was like a young black boy, bout 20, 20 something. So he was trying to flex his little power. But when I was up there. I was so angry that I had to channel it through something and I ain’t got no speakers in there so I can’t really [write] and I wasn’t really motivated to write [raps] in there. So I started just jotting down ideas for a book and started putting it together. As I did that, later I joined the office club and it taught me more about how to write a book. So I wrote a book in there like about my life and about the things that people don’t know about Brat. Like I’m not just a rapper, I can do everything. I grew up in church playing the drums, singing in the choir, directing the choir. Writing songs for the choir. I got a lot of music in me, like that is passion. I’ve written R&B song with Mariah, you know I’ve ghost written for a lot of people. People don’t really know about me. I just kinda want everybody to see that I can do a whole bunch of stuff. I got into writing that book and put myself really into it. The next book will be like about the whole prison thing. Cause you can’t write that while you in there cause if they shake you down if they read it they got the right to take it. So you have to be careful with that.
ANGEL: That’s one thing with celebrities though, when you get famous off of one thing. You get set into that category and people don’t think you’re multifaceted. So that book should be interesting.
DA BRAT Yeah and I don’t like that. I got a lot of different sides to me. On top of everything that I am, I’m a woman first and I’m a God fearing woman. I pray all the time, I always have. No matter how much profanity comes out of my mouth it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in God. He comes first no matter what. And I was raised like that and it gon always going to be like that til the day I’m gone. So I’m blessed. No matter what happens, I’m blessed.
DA BRAT “PART 2″
(SPEAKS ON MARIAH, NICKI MINAJ & THE SHIFT IN MUSIC)
ANGEL: One of the twitter followers (@106th), he asked “Did Mariah ever come visit you in prison?
DA BRAT Yeah she did. Her and Nick Cannon came. They flew out to a private airport in Baldwin near the prison and they came to see me and I almost passed out when I saw them. [laughs] Yeah that was one of my Christmas presents. So I was real grateful for that and lot of the officers changed their tune once they some somebody like that come see me. Cause I was looking at them sideways like “really?” [laugh] I remember when you wanted to fucking cuss at me last week when I ain’t do nothing and now you want to walk me and be my escort to my visit.
ANGEL: Mmhmm. You know the game.
DA BRAT A lot of people changed when they see the respect you had for different people and see the type of friends you have. But it’s all good. That was good it was meant for that to happen. ‘Cause that same officer was just kissing my ass the whole way after that.
ANGEL: You see how it goes that’s how it goes right.
DA BRAT Yep, that’s how it is.
ANGEL: Ok, another twitter followed (@sjaydaEvolution); you know you just spoke about writing a book. Have you been writing any new music or do you plan on releasing any new music?
DA BRAT Yeah I definitely plan on releasing new music, ASAP. I”m getting my studio setup right now in the crib. I gotta get back into the swing of the computers thing. Cause I have not had access to a computer in about 2 and half years.
ANGEL: Oh yeah, alot has changed right?
DA BRAT A lot of has changed. So that’s what’s happening the computer thing. I’m on global14 you know J.D.’s social network. Imma setup my twitter tonight. That facebook that’s out is not me. I don’t know who that is talking back to people like they me. I’m trying to get it shut down but they just take you in circles. That’s the defect in all those. Cause if somebody front like they you you can’t get it erased. Like how do I get it taken off and start over but it don’t matter Imma put up a real one.
ANGEL: Yeah put up a real one and put up a real twitter. Pretty much you use and you blast that fake facebook and your fans will report them to facebook and they’ll close the page down within a day. That’s what most celebrities do now.
DA BRAT That’s exactly what I’m gon do, that’s a great idea. That’s wassup.
ANGEL: Well when you get your twitter and everything situated, make sure to hit us up with the name so we can blast it on ours and go from there.
DA BRAT You can probably go to global14 and get it from there since I’m already on that one right now. So I’ll probably do that and then they can just get it from there. Cause J.D. got the whole thing like hooked up. I saw his and I was like dang you got everything on there. He got everything on there. People from Tokyo, three thousand dollar G Shock watches. I was like dang, I need that in my life.
ANGEL: Yeah he kills it with twitter and the whole internet thing. He knows what he’s doing. So he gets much respect for that.
DA BRAT Yeah he was telling me stuff, I was like “do what?”
ANGEL: You with the right person though. You’ll be right on track by the end of this week.
DA BRAT You better believe it. He is already sending somebody over here with the equipment for me to record. So I’m ready. My mac is waiting on it, waiting on that pro Tools baby, waiting.
ANGEL: Well we just spoke about the music and I think your last album was released seven years ago yeah 2003 right?
DA BRAT Girl, I don’t even remember.
ANGEL: Yeah, you know I’m a fan so I remember. It was 2003 cause it was Limelight, Love and Nightclubz
DA BRAT That’s wassup, that’s wassup! [laughs]
A: So now with the rap game, how do you feel about the rap game right now?
DA BRAT For the females?
A: Yeah, let’s keep it real. How do you feel about Nicki Minaj being the top female rapper right now?
DA BRAT I mean I’m happy for her. I don’t know her or nothing yet, but I’m happy for her. You know anybody that can get it and do what they do. Who knows? She probably been rhyming for awhile and it’s just her time. So I’m happy for anybody who is getting it. Especially the females. Cause they wasn’t showing us no love on the real. You know what I’m saying. I don’t know what the problem was with that. I don’t know if it was the label that wasn’t believing in us or I don’t know what it was but it was a point when nothing female was coming out whatsoever. I mean there were females that got skills, so I didn’t understand that and I really still don’t know what happened. So i’m just grateful there is somebody out that is doing their thing. I’m happy to see that. I don’t care about no beef, I don’t get in that. Brat do Brat.
DA BRAT So if that’s what they wanna do that’s on them [NICKI & LIL KIM]. Whatever happens as the outcome of that that’s they shit. Brat gon do Brat.
ANGEL: Well speaking of Nicki, a lot of her fans hit us up on twitter and asked would you be open to do a record with her?
DA BRAT 4sho. She aint never did nothing to me. It’s all good. Unless you done done something to me or whatever and I know for a fact you’ve done something or you done tried to cross me. I ain’t got nothing against nobody doing they thing for real. I’m happy for that lady [NICKI].
ANGEL: Well we talked about the female rappers. How do you feel about the music game in general right now. Cause you know there was a big shift. Everything is turning “electro pop” kinda now. Like even R&B, there is like really no R&B. There is R&B out but I mean all the mainstream music is like this electronic type of pop.
DA BRAT Yeah I hear it [laughs]. It’s very different for me to hear that. I been listening and I’m like wow. I’m not used to that. I like real Hip-Hop. I’m a hip-hop head. So I like that real gutter get into the lyrics type shit.
ANGEL: Bring it back, please bring it back cause its starting to be over-saturated.
DA BRAT Well I got J.D. on my team and I got a whole squad that is very supportive and I’m gonna try to figure out a way to make it all work, but my way. I just gotta get in the studio and make it happen here at the crib cause I got this ankle monitor on, cause I’m on house arrest right. So imma just get in there and boo up with some stuff and see what happens but I gotta give them raw lyrics. I can’t half step on that. I can’t water me down. I’m sorry I can’t. But now there is the whole internet thing so I’ll be able to freak it. I ain’t even worried about that. but I’m just wondering. Cause all of the radio stations you here are playing just what you talked about So I’m sure we still got the real folks making these records but I think they just not playing them.
ANGEL: That’s true. You made a good point. That’s true.
DA BRAT I just gotta figure out how to get them to play it. Cause I know these real artist still making these real joints but that’s not what is playing on the radio or what the program director is letting them be allowed to play. How do we intervene? You what I mean? So Imma do that mixtape thing, imma do that internet thing and every possible thing to see which works best. I gotta get on top of my shit and master the game. So once I get this figured out, it’s just like a video game. Once you master that game, you know the ins and outs and where to shoot the bullets at and not shoot and duck in and out. Imma figure it out and when I get it figured out it’s gonna be all good cause I got great talented genius support.
DA BRAT “PART 3″
(FINAL QUESTIONS, ETC)
ANGEL: Well I have a couple of questions left. This is another question from a twitter follower (@blackqueen1010). She said, “What would Da Brat today, tell Da Brat from 10 years ago?”
DA BRAT Calm your ass down. [laughs] Calm your ass down. But I think everything happens for a reason and I think it was meant for me to sit out for a minute. Cause I heard them couple years I sat out was like the worse ever for everybody. Economy wise, music wise everything. And plus, you know. Ain’t no telling, I could possibly be in the dirt right now for my temper. So, I think God does everything for a reason and I’m grateful for everything that happens to me whether it be bad or good there is a lesson to be learned in everything. So I think I’m better, I’m wiser. I’m more patient and my temper is better. I’m more hungry and eager cause all this time done went pass so I gotta make up for this lost time now. I’m not trying to hit the grown crawling, I’m trying to hit the ground sprinting. So I got a lot to do and I feel like it’s little time because I wasted so much time being locked up.
ANGEL: So your birthday is coming up next month. So I know you probably gonna throw a big party or are you gonna chill back?
DA BRAT [laughs] Imma chill back. [laughs] Imma just fall back. One, I don’t need to be in nobody’s club. Two, I don’t need to be drunk. Imma chill back and do it a little different. Imma do it the grown folks way this time. Imma just be with my family and my close friends and we gon just chill and keep it sexy. You know we gon do the hot tub thing, we gonna do the cookout. Everybody round gon want to drink some drink, they can smoke, they can do what they wanna do. I know what I ain’t supposed to do, so I know what I’m not gon be doing but I’m gon be enjoying myself. And I aint trying to make none of them same mistakes I ain’t trying to go back. The worst part of that is missing what I do and missing my family and the people who love and support me. And writing music and working. So I aint trying to lose that no more, no more. Never again.
ANGEL: And that’s real talk. Thanx so much Da Brat for taking the time out to speak to me.
DA BRAT It’s all good, anytime anytime.
ANGEL: Aiight. Enjoy your food [laughs]
DA BRAT [laughs] All the time.
For the latest info on Da Brat, make sure to check out GLOBAL14.COM