A Grammy-nominated hip-hop legend strolls into the studio where you’re recording and asks if you’d like to work together on a song that will represent your home state. What do you say?
“I was not afraid,” Virginia Beach-based artist Kingna Scott says of the moment Pusha T of Clipse proposed they collaborate on a song about their shared Virginian origins. “I wasn’t nervous. I was like, ‘Yes.’”
The resulting track, “VA Sway,” is part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Heart & Soul campaign, which shines a light on a Black creator or influencer each month. Scott grew up in Farmville before moving east to attend Norfolk State University in 2003. She made plenty of waves as a musician in her hometown, first making the local paper at just 3 years old, but she had to start over after relocating. “I felt like nothing,” she says. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to get this city to know who I am.’”
Now, with the support of Virginia Tourism and her collaboration with Pusha T racking up streaming numbers, Scott is getting her name out more than ever. [Also if you haven’t heard, Pusha T is playing an all-ages show on Brown’s Island on Saturday, Oct. 22].
Style: How does it feel to be representing a whole state with your music?
Kingna Scott: It really feels good that internally what I feel and what I felt growing up, even, is now being externalized and exposed to so many people on such a grand stage. So I’m very grateful.
What was it like meeting Pusha T for the first time?
I like picking with people, and I like trying to get them out of character a little bit. I was opening up for J. Cole and Wale, and I saw Push backstage ... I started making cracks on his outfit — freestyling, pointing at him — and it was great. He loved it, and we stayed in touch on and off. I kept running into him, physically. I think he was feeling it too, like, “I’m supposed to do something with her. We’re supposed to do something together.”
“VA Sway” paints such a vivid picture of growing up in Farmville. What made you want to focus on family in the song’s lyrics?
That’s my whole goal with this song, to have you drone over my life and visualize growing up like this. Some people, when you’re going through it, you kind of feel like it’s a burden, but honestly at three, four, seven, 12 years old, I’d have these moments of clarity. I’d look around in my grandma’s packed small apartment in the projects, and she’s got like 19 grandkids running all over couches, and my great-aunts are talking to her, and everybody’s yelling and screaming, and there’s love. I’d have these moments where I’d go, “Man, I hate this,” and then I’d be like, “I love this.”
What advice did Pusha T have for writing the song?
He actually told me to get more personal, and I felt like I was taking my clothes off in front of people, especially [talking about] the fish fry at my aunt’s house ... I was embarrassed at first to expose how nostalgic and sentimental I am, [but] so many people are enjoying this all around the world. People from Japan are sending me messages like “Your song made me feel good.”
I just heard it the other day and I got emotional, because I thought about all those kids I grew up with in the projects ... I was like the leader of everybody, and they’re listening to this, and I know they’re feeling how much I love them, and how much I remember everything. We are all in this song.”
Are there any other Virginian artists who have been especially inspiring?
There are a lot of underground artists who are really talented. A lot of talent comes out of here. I don’t even know why. Maybe we’re sitting on a big quartz crystal or something ... Missy Elliot has shaped so much of everything, mixing quirk with hip-hop so much that she gave the body a new joint. I respect her style and what she’s done, and she’s working with a lot of artists out here.
What’s on the horizon now that “VA Sway” has caught the attention of so many listeners?
I’ve been ready for this. I had 86 songs at one point ready to go, so I can always go back in and grab from those ... You gotta put the work in, and then when it’s your time, all you gotta do is sit back and let your work work for you. And that’s where I’m hoping to get to. The next song that we’re going to release is “Believer,” and it’s fire. It’s produced by 6th Sense. Amazing producer. A talented guy with a lot of soul, a lot of groove. I’m just excited.
To learn more and hear “VA Sway,” visit kingnascott.com. To learn more about the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Heart & Soul campaign, visit virginia.org.