My Neck, My Back, My Pussy, and My Life

Ten years since "My Neck, My Back," an interview with Khia.

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Mar 6 2012, 10:40pm

This December, the New York Times wrote that the presence of several upcoming white female rappers is beginning to challenge “hip-hop’s masculine ideal,” declaring that “the conversation in hip-hop is, and always has been, about black men." For me, however, hip-hop has been about the ladies since at least 2002, when a line from Missy Elliot’s “Work It” became my outgoing voicemail message (“If you a fly girl, get your nails done, get a pedicure, get your hair did”) and Khia’s “My Neck My Back” taught me that the best head comes from a thug. Then again, I—white law school student—am not exactly the authority on hip-hop. (Although I’m not sure the New York Times is either…). Curious that music critics are just now seeing hip-hop as something that women can do, and well aware that Missy would never answer my phone calls, I decide to hit up my girl Khia, who has been creating hip-hop since far before anyone knew who or what a Kreayshawn was.

VICE: When did you first know you wanted to be a rapper?

Khia: I wouldn’t say rapping is what I wanted to do. I enjoy singing. I don’t do metaphors, I create and compose songs. In the late 90s, when I began creating music, R&B took a back seat to hip-hop and it was easier for me to "make it" as a rapper. 

It seems like just as many people are familiar with the Smoking Gun’s infamous mug-shot collage documenting your 30-plus arrests between 1994-1999, and the rumor that spread around the Internet in 2002 that your boyfriend had killed you. What do you think about this reputation you can't seem to shake? 

I’m no stranger to jail, but I've stayed out of jail since achieving fame. I attribute most of my stints in jail to growing up in the Tampa hood. If you're in the ghetto, you know, shit happens. You might get into a fight. In my neighborhood, you couldn’t leave the house not strapped. I step in when I think something isn't right, and that's how I've always gotten into fights. I have a soft spot for the underdogs. Animals, people, it doesn't matter. Leave the dog alone! 

Are you grateful for your time in jail as a teenager at all? 

I am. It allowed me to perfect my craft. During those years jail became my only opportunity to write and work on my music because life outside was full of distractions. When I would get out, then it was back to the block, back to the streets, back to the hustle. In jail I even wrote poetry and comic books, but when you get out and get back to your friends, you ain't thinkin' about no comic book. But when my mom died in 2001, I realized that I didn't need to be in jail to write. After that I isolated myself for three months and then put my album Thug Misses out. That album went to #1 and I never looked back. 

Except for that one time in August of 2011 when you were arrested in Atlanta for supposedly trying to hide a car that you weren't making payments on. Were you harassed by your fellow inmates during that time because of your celebrity status?

On the contrary! It was like Jail House Rock! It seemed like my presence uplifted everybody and they kinda forgot they were in jail. I made friends with the other women and was preachin' and counselin' the young ones. 

You have kids, right? What's it like being a role model to them?

I have a daughter named Khia who's 20, and a son, Rayshawn who's 19. I got pregnant the first time I had sex, so I had Khia when I was 14. Having children so young meant that they grew up together and got to share my dream. They've been with me through it all. They're my biggest cheerleaders. I'm glad I had them early actually. If I had waited till now then my mom wouldn't have been able to see her grandbabies born. I think it all happened for a reason. 

You and your husband recently split. Now that you're dating again, or able to, what sort of guys are you attracted to?

You'd be surprised. I like nerdy guys. I like bad boys too, don't get me wrong, but relationship wise, I'm all about the nerds. 

Do you think that the music industry is harder on women?

Yes. I'm always up against men. They just want to run the show. But I'm aggressive and dominant in everything I do, which is a trait that comes out in my music. I dismiss female rappers like Lil' Kim whose songs are often written by men and whose behavior, dress, and lyrics are aimed at pleasing men. I write for the ladies. Don't trust no nigga, get your own. Respect me. Lick my pussy AND my crack. We can ball like they do. If they can be a thug, I can be a gangstress. They can be a boss and I can be a boss lady. I don't care what kinda car you drive, 'cause I got one too. 

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