Take a step into the mind of Atlanta’s homegrown sensation.
The breakout career of Nessly can be attributed to his love for what he does. It takes a special kind of person to meticulously sit in a room for an endless amount of hours, with all focus on creating a hit song. Not to mention, it takes a whole other type of individual to succeed in making that hit song.
In the final preparation before the release of his new project “Wildflower,” we spoke with Nessly to get an idea of what we can expect with his upcoming release, his recent birthday festivities, being an autotune rapper and his unorthodox process of making music.
Read our conversation below and be sure to stream Nessly’s brand new single “Back 2 Life.”
In an age where people blow up overnight, do you feel you have a chip on your shoulder since you’ve been on the grind for a while?
Yeah. Absolutely, but the chip on my shoulder will turn into diamonds around my neck. That’s how I feel. I mean, I innovate all the time, I feel like I create swag for people. I feel good about that when there is homage involved, but when people just take it and there is no credit given or no attempt to reach out, I feel like that’s when it can be harmful; you know?
Anyone that has ever inspired me, I plan on working with them. It’s fun and the sport of it. Why would you not want to play basketball with Michael Jordan one day, if you aspire to be like Michael Jordan, or better? It’s about homage.
An older song of yours, “Sade Cadence,” has a different style than what you have now. What influenced you to become what you are now?
Actually, what’s crazy is that my style wasn’t different. That was one song that I made differently than others.
My first song was auto-tuned. I was 12- years-old. That was 2007, I think. I’ve been an autotune rapper since the first thing ever came out. From 2007 to 2012, I put out five mixtapes a year using Myspace, Band Music and LiveMixtapes. I used to have a plug at LiveMixtapes and they would get me in. I’m from Atlanta, so LiveMixtapes was the biggest thing that ever happened to the culture.
We weren’t worried about SoundCloud or YouTube; it was all the streets. Even though I didn’t even really make music for the streets necessarily, that’s just where I’d just grown up. The trap sound the autotune sound, it’s all a big part of our music culture here. I would stop and make a couple sampled influenced records all the time; I don’t listen to just trap music. I’m just one of those people where if you sent me a beat, I did it. I attack any beat, and if I have to slow down on my autotune style to effectively use that beat I would, and that’s what “Sade Cadence” was.
I had found a pocket in that beat, and I felt that it would be best to execute it with no autotune, no adlibs. And I still have songs like that now, I might not release them as often, but I have them. I have a song called “Look At You” on “Still Finessin.” It’s the same kind of thing, just a different beat choice. I do it a lot on my new project, and a couple of unreleased records I’m holding onto for future purposes. It’s not really a different swag or a different style, it’s just something that I occasionally incorporate in the same records.
Can you tell us anything about “Wildflower” that’s to come out soon?
“Wildflower” just shows each dimension to Nessly. That’s my answer every time somebody asks me about a project, because I find something new about myself before I release something new. I find a new flow, I find new technique, I find new producers, and I incorporate it. “Wildflower” is just about being; it’s a paradox, you know? Usually wild and flower don’t usually go together. It’s like something bad and something beautiful all in one, and I feel like I bring the beauty out in so many things that people find to be negative.
I’ve been the underdog for so long. I shed light to the darkest situations, and I come out on top. I feel like that’s what all my music is about, not even just “Wildflower,” but “Wildflower” specifically is just a symbolism to my growth. I’ve used a rose for my symbolism for a minute now, and I’m just carrying off of that imagery to reinvent, and it’s just a collection of all my thoughts and my emotions. Some people know where I’m heading with my new music, some people know where I’m heading with my maturing as a person; “Wildflower” is a reinvention in general.
Do you have any day one friends who you are still making music with?
Yeah, here and there. I focus on making a lot of music by myself, so if I don’t have music with somebody, it’s not necessarily a reflection of if I want to do music with them or not.
It has to feel super organic for me. It’s all about energy, and if the energy isn’t all the way there, I don’t do it. And that’s why I don’t do music with a lot of people, because it’s not even about the opportunity or the sound, it’s about both. It just has to make sense.
There are a lot of people who are popcorn artists. You can pop them in a microwave and they might burn out, but I feel like I’m in this position where if I have one style that burns out, I can become equally as popular or more popular with my next style. So you know, I’m not really worried about who’s hot in the moment. I just want to genuinely enjoy someone’s music if I do it.
I do have my day one friends that I still work with, but I want to develop them first. I’m still trying to help them reach higher ground with their sound, with their techniques so people can understand them for who they are genuinely before I give them too many features or whatever and people just remember them for being with Nessly. I don’t want people to listen to them and not think of them, you know? I want people to think of us all as stand alone acts, rather than we all fall under the same family tree.
But I have Brandon24k. That’ my best friend, he does a lot of my engineering, but he’s also a producer and singer and he’s really amazing. I would do a lot of music with him, but you see the thing is, I just don’t want to overshadow anything yet because of the positions we both play right now. I want people to enjoy his music on the level that they enjoy mine. Even if it’s a separate fan base and that’s what it turns out being, then that’s how I’ll have it.
So you like to make music by yourself and independently, what does a normal studio session look like to you?
There’s no norm. I kind of just feed off of the energy in the room. There will be times where I record at home around people and I don’t process it as nervousness, but maybe I won’t hit as high of a pitch because I know they hear me with no autotune, and sometimes that’ll create an essence for the song that’s what made it so good, because I didn’t go high pitch like I would have by myself. Or maybe I started mumbling in the middle of a the song because I felt like I didn’t want them to hear what I was saying if I said it so loud, and that’s what made it so good. I feed off the elements that the room has 90% of the time; the other 10% is just losing myself in the music, it’s almost like a trance. I will take my headphones off and be like “Woah, what the fuck did I just say?” Most times when I’m recording around people, I will say something like really witty with my punchlines, I’ll look around like nodding my head or looking for objects in the room for inspiration, and I always notice people jaws drop. Just surprised that I said an intricate metaphor with no preparation no premeditation, it’s just always a shock to people. That’s something that drives me to keep saying cooler things in my songs too.
You have that and then you have me in the studio, in the actual studio which creates a whole different type of environment too. There is a pressure, an unspoken pressure because you are with new engineers and new producers. For me, it just drives me to make something new, and something that I know will be undeniable because I have people to impress who don’t even know me. It helps me think outside the box, but every environment that I’m in when I record affects what I create and how I create it.
Have you always strictly freestyled while recording?
For the past three years, yes. I have not written anything.
Different songs take me a different amount of time to create. It just depends on the record, it depends on the different layers of the record. There’ve been some songs where I record the adlibs first. Like on “Giddy Up,” I just recorded the adlibs first. I didn’t record any vocals. I just knew how I wanted the adlibs to be. On that song, I probably recorded for 15 minutes one day, slept on the song, and recorded for like another 30 minutes.
Once I already had a first verse or course and a first verse, I’m kinda like “Okay how do you make this better,” so it might take me a little longer to really do the next verse, but then you have songs. I have this song called “Thank God” off of “Wildflower,” still freestyling, but the thing is when I tell you I freestyle my music, and you hear a song like “Giddy Up” and you hear a song like “Thank God” you’re going to be like “Nah, that has to be written.” But I mean, we can set up webcams all over the studio and you can see, I don’t write anything, but that song took me probably like six hours. I was still freestyling, but there were times where I would just get stuck because I wanted that song to be like my Mona Lisa. I wanted it to be the most beautiful song I made, and I think it is. It really is a supreme song, and it is one of my most impressive. I’ll play that song for anybody. I’ll play that for Barack Obama.
Is this song on “Wildflower”?
Yes. It’s very reflective of who I am. Again, it’s one of those songs that sheds light to negativity within ourselves. Sometimes we are afraid to adjust our own problems. We’re afraid to look in the mirror. I feel like “Thank God” is really one of those songs because it starts with the line “I don’t thank God enough, I’m so ungrateful.” People will be cocky on their records, but won’t face themselves in the mirror. That’s what that’s about. I won’t give away the record like that, but I know when people hear it, it will strike a cord, and it’s really good. It’s not even a boring song. It’s still entertaining, there are still 808’s. There are parts you can get lit to; but you will probably cry and turn up in the same song.
What else about “Wildflower” can we know? Any dates or any cool features on there that you are happy with?
I got Ski Mask The Slump God on there, he’s like one of my favorite new rappers right now. I have Joji, he’s really dope and creating a buzz too. I know a lot of people are excited for those. I’m hoping to drop it pretty soon. I don’t necessarily have a date, but very soon. In the next two months or so.
Do you have a tour planned with that as well?
Not yet. I want to see the initial response, so I can just look at the analytics and figure out where the best cities to stop are. I just want the people who really enjoy it the most to get that show. I don’t want to do it like in a sister city, and then the people who really listen to it were in X city, and if it’s possible to hit both, I will.
What are your feelings about playing a festival vs. your own private show?
Well, I’m just now starting to get into the festival market. I’ve gotten a lot of requests to do them this year but my view on it is that a lot of artists, especially newer artists who don’t have a lot of experience performing, you can’t take them out of a club experience and then throw them onto a festival stage. I think they get a little nervous or insecure that they know people are not there just for them. But then again, people at festivals come for everybody. Even if you don’t know somebody, you are going to discover. They just don’t give that same energy for one reason or another. I don’t even think it’s like a laziness, I’m sure they are happy to do the show, and I know they get paid good. I think it’s like that deeper insecurity, that’s not allowing them to give it their all. It’s almost like the same effect, it’s kind of weird. It’s like the same effect opening for someone on tour and your music is completely different than theirs.
Let’s just saw you’re this super trapped out dude opening for an EDM artist who doesn’t remix trap songs, like just straight techno type shit. You’re going to think they are going to be like “What the fuck,” but most times they’re going to find a way to get through that shit. I feel like every artist should give it their all on any show they do, no matter what.
I opened up for Ugly God on one of his tours and I thought it would be like that for me, but I didn’t care so I just put whatever thoughts to the side and just did it. I was getting paid. I was seeing the country. I was getting exposure so I gave it my all. So that’s what I plan to do at festivals. And I hope that artists will go a little harder when they do festivals too.
Did you get good feedback on the Ugly God tour?
It was alright. It wasn’t what I wanted because the exposure just isn’t what I thought it would be, but otherwise, the kids had a good time. I had a couple experiences where there was a disconnect because a lot of people are coming for that meme type music. I don’t make that shit, and I’m not ever going to make that shit. Now you got Ugly God on Instagram talking about he doesn’t even want to be a part of that community the same anymore. It goes to show.
It’s all fun and games. I like memes. I laugh at memes every day. I send memes. I make memes. I don’t post them.
You have to let me get my hands on one of your memes.
Bro, I have a million. I have a private Instagram where I post that shit all day.
Last week was your birthday. How’d you spend your 23rd?
I went to Japan actually. I stayed in Tokyo, just so I could open up my eyes to see more. I’ve always wanted to go to there. Japanese culture has been a big influence on everything I do. When I grew up, I use to read Manga and draw it. I still wear Bape and a lot of Japanese brands. There are literally pictures of me at 10-years-old wearing Bape, and that’s literally not an exaggeration. I’ve always always always liked Japanese culture, so I went out there for a week it was really dope. Just a whole new world.
I felt like I went back in the past when I got back to Atlanta. Everything about what they do just feels so futuristic. The cab doors open by themselves. Instead of like sliding doors, you walk up to like a fully glass door and press a button. It’s really flat, you would think it was a doorbell, but instead of it being a doorbell, it opens the door. Just different crazy stuff, just amazing. I love that place and I want to go back.
Just out there to explore, no business?
No business, no. I did have a fan stop me though, twice. That was weird. I didn’t know I had fans out there. It was cool.