Scottie Armonie, a 26 year old female rapper hailing from Long Island, NY, grew up in a place where hiphop’s roots run deep.
In her song “House on West 15th”, Scottie says, “Maybe it’s my childhood that’s been holding me back,” and goes on to contrast that idea with the possibility that expressing her feelings in her work might be the first step to her recovery from past traumas. Despite said traumas, Scottie comes off as extraordinarily strong, and yet willingly explores vulnerable moments with finesse and dignity. Composing some of the most heart wrenching lines I’ve ever heard, as with the line, “And yeah I got a man that I love, but I can’t open up, and I’m startin’ to think he’s gettin’ sick of me.” She paints a vivid narrative with expertly chosen details, both vague and enigmatic, but still poignant enough to get the story across. She speaks also of a man that she can still hear creeping up the stairs, and mentions that she didn’t want to tell her sisters about it, because — heartbreakingly enough — she didn’t want them to have to deal with it. She comes off as the incidental heroine of her own story, as if she herself is unaware that she is something so brave and unbreakable, yet so raw and accessible.
Storytelling like this hasn’t been seen in hiphop’s mainstream all that much in the recent past, but it is something I think we all want to see more of. With narrative driven bars like hers, Scottie is reminiscent of the best storyteller’s the genre has had to offer; I see a little Nas, a little Lupe Fiasco, and a lot of Tupac (who she says inspired her growing up) in the narrative aspects of her work.
The production in this song is something to note. The envelope pushing audio-glitch effect she has woven into her soundscape adds an ingenious contrast to her throwback vocal stylings, like a young Tupac jumped on an XXXTentacion beat — and it actually worked. The production may be a step outside of your comfort zone, but there’s a lot to be said for this risk taking composition. It might seem cutting-room floor to some, but would likely be hailed as cutting-edge if it came from someone like Kanye or Clipse, which begs the question: Is it maybe our expectations of where our innovators can come from that should be shifted some, before decreeing which is which?
In “House on West 15th” Scottie asks, “What’s wrong with being weird?” — said every creative genius, ever. Maybe, we all have been settling for less than this genre truly deserves, and if one thing has become clear to me, it’s that hip hop deserves more artists like this.