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It's something of a curse, really: despite huge sales, respect from her peers, and a growing music empire of her own, Da Brat is still known in many circles as nothing more than "that female rapper with the dirty mouth."

That's a shame, because over the course of two albums (and with a third ready to drop), Shawntae Harris has proven to be one of hip-hop's most compelling stars. Sure, her lyrics might still occasionally make Millie Jackson sound like Shirley Temple by comparison, but beneath the rawness, there's often a bedrock of sly, self-knowing humor.

It's pretty clear that even if it's her rep as a bad girl that gets some people listening in the first place, Da Brat's all right with that. Once the novelty fades, her fans will no doubt stick around to follow her continuing growth as a performer and producer.

Roger Coletti of the MTV Radio Network spoke with Da Brat recently, touching on such topics as the lack of respect given to her native Chicago; her hopes for the new album, "Unrestricted;" and her plans for a very, very, verrry comfortable retirement.

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