By Rahul Lal
Nick Grant is one of the hottest up-and-coming artists in hip-hop; he recently spoke with Play.it’s Rap Radar podcast co-hosts Elliott Wilson and Brian “B.Dot” Miller about his career so far.
“I feel like hip-hop is based on being competitive,” the lyricist began. “I’m going for something different, I’m not going for the number one hit. I’m trying to be the number one rapper in the game so I feel like that confidence comes from just knowing what you have to do to be number one. You can’t half-step, you can’t slack, you got to give your all so that’s where my confidence comes from.”
“That [confidence] developed over time,” he explained. “I don’t feel like I was the best rapper overnight. I felt like I had to grow and figure out who I wanted to be and which path and which route I wanted to go and how I wanted people to view me. The best way I figured that out was just being myself because it just felt right. It felt right with the type of records I started making and just the people I was still hanging around. Life in general and different experiences, I just wanted people to view me as somebody that wasn’t doing it for the money, wasn’t making trendy records and just doing what he really believed in.”
His album, Return to the Cool, has a very specific meaning to him. “I used the term ‘the cool’ to to describe what I feel like hip-hop should be in the present day, based on the people I grew up listening to, whether it was Jay Z, Nas, 2Pac, Biggie, A Tribe Called Quest… but it didn’t stop right there,” said Grant as he was explaining the motivation behind the title for Return of the Cool. “It was also Marvin Gaye, Joe Sample, Take 6, Curtis Mayfield, Luther Vandross, Earth Wind & Fire, so just pulling from all these inspirational people and all my biggest influences and putting them into this project. I felt like the way they made music was from their heart and they were here twenty to thirty years, and that was for a reason. I want to follow that same path.”
Many artists release mixtapes in preparation for their big project; Grant is doing the same. He is gearing up for a new project which he announced will be called Sunday Dinner. The new album, which he revealed already has a finished track with Usher, will be the most personal collection he’s put together as it draws on his own family and the people who shaped him to be the person that he has become.
“I want to get more personal within the music so I chose the title Sunday Dinner because it’s like, the only time I really saw my family was like cookouts, funerals and Sunday dinner,” he explained. “Sunday dinner being the most intimate, you had all these different personalities whether it was your mother who was on drugs, your father who was never really around, your aunt with the drug habit, your uncle with the gambling problem, your bad ass cousins and you got all these people around the table and you just sitting at the end looking at them. They helped make you who you are in a sense… Every person and every experience with that person becomes a record so therefore, Sunday Dinner.”
Talking about today’s artists, he mentioned that two of his favorites are J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.
“I feel like those guys make music from their heart. They don’t compromise who they are for nobody,” he said. “I feel like Cole switched his whole style and people still love him the same way as if it was the first album. That just shows you how genuine he is and how honest he is with himself and his music. Those guys don’t compromise for nobody and I’m the same way… I love those guys, man. I’m glad I’m existing with these guys. I’m just thankful for them because there aren’t many of them so I’m just grateful for the work they put out.”
“There’s so much going on in the world that you can talk about and we have a responsibility as an artist,” he added. “Not just for putting out good music, but I feel like kids are very impressionable and you have to say the right things and that’s what I’m here for.”
To hear the full interview with Nick Grant, listen to the latest episode of the Rap Radar podcast.