Camden, New Jersey rapper Nate Nato says he is aiming for Grammy Awards in the coming years. The Rutgers alum comes from some of the most talked-about streets in America, and uses his music to not only show many sides to his hometown, but to advance the lyricism that’s made Hip Hop so enduring.
With a new DJ Whoo Kid-hosted License To Kill mixtape, Nate Nato is adding to a repertoire that includes producing BET Uncut favorite “Mucho Humpty Hump.” Nato’s album Skywalker is fast on the way and will showcase the dynamic creations that he’s concocted over time. No stone will be left unturned as he touches on many topics and supports efforts with banging beats and a true producers guidance. DX chats with Nate on the highlights of his musical ensemble.
HipHopDX: So why do you feel that you’re being considered as lyrically great?
Nate Nato: I think I’m in a good position. I think it’s really flattering that people are back to listening to lyrics nowadays. I appreciate that and it humbles me. To be one of the upcoming artist that are on the rise in Hip Hop who can push the direction of the music beyond tradition is great. There are a lot of new artists out that may be similar, as far has having the lyrical talent and be able to contribute something towards the commercial end of the industry. With the position that I’m in it allows me to be able to step up lyrically and be a contributor by putting the entire project together from the hook to the track. I’m in a position of total control right now, especially as a lyricist, it makes me happy that people let me know that they’re feeling my music.
DX: Can you speak about the customization of your artistry?
Nate Nato: Well I first started off as a rapper. When I was younger I realized that I had the talent to put the words together in a way that would appeal to people. I had the talent as a writer. Actually, when I started to become a producer it was more of a challenge because I had to start from scratch and teach myself every single thing. I had to really work at it. Being able to shape myself completely as a rapper and as a producer are both parts of the portrait that I’m trying to display for the world. I’m able to hear where I want to go with the music and turn around to deliver such. Having the ability to do that came from a lot of hard work and I continue to work hard every day.
DX: Tell us about your expansion into production…
Nate Nato: Yeah when I was in college I was in a group, and I just got tired of rapping over instrumentals and begging people to make us a beat or use their resources. So basically I got a [tax] refund check and decided to go out and buy a keyboard and try to make my own beats. When I did that I just had to work at it everyday and each time I figured something different out and learned a little more. It’s something that I kind of fell into out of necessity but I learned to love it.
DX: As you see it, what’s the personal difference between being a producer and beat maker?
Nate Nato: I would say I probably started off as a beat-maker just tinkering with certain sounds and whatnot. When I really started to recognize the difference between being a beat maker and a producer is when I was working on my first project 2005 called The Unbelievable Truth. It went from making beats and taking them out of a stock pile to actually going through and creating song structures. Learning what you want the song to have added or taken out of it to make it have a certain feel. The key to a great producer is that he or she knows how to remove elements from a song that aren’t necessary while leaving all of the right components that enable the song to still make an impact on listeners.
DX: What does it take to make commercial viable music today without selling out?
Nate Nato: I think I’m a unique situation. I read a lot and I watch a lot of the news and that leads to shaping the content that I create for my music. I understand the kinds of things that are going on now with people and how they may choose to live their lives. Whether that’s all about having fun and partying or something serious, I have a gift to be able to tap into that and write about it. I mentor kids and I’ve seen kids go through a lot so I write about that as well especially on my album. I can see things and live things then turn around and present them in a way that were it’s not selling and too mainstream nor is it underground because it wasn’t commercial enough. The people that I interact have created a correlation for my music.
DX: What was the process of putting together License to Kill?
Nate Nato: License to Kill was the first installment to my mixtape series. I wanted to just kill it lyrically and production wise. Fans expect for you to kill the music on a mixtape so it was only right that I gave the people what they wanted. The motivation behind the project was to let the people know to pay attention to the lyrics because lyrically I’m not to be overlooked. I was lyrically driven and focused on that project.
DX: And your album, Skywalker is next?
Nate Nato: Well Skywalker I’ve been working on for a while, it’s been an ongoing project. Basically it’s all of the best components that I have to offer lyrically and through my production. I want it to have a global appeal to everybody. The beats are gritty and commercial. Its been a process and I deep learning curve to put this album together. It’s definitely marketable and I’m certain it will be approved through the masses.
DX: Do you pursue that as intensely as your music career?
Nate Nato: I would say I act but I was featured in an independent film I was technically suppose to just do the score for the film but I just decided to do the casting call and read a few lines and landed the role. I knew where the director wanted to go with the role and they loved how a delivered the script so things took off. As far as me acting in other films, I don’t won’t to limit myself so I will say maybe but as far as me being a full fledged actor my interest is mainly on the music so the money would have to definitely be right.
DX: What are your expectations for Skywalker?
Nate Nato: My expectations for Skywalker are at the top; I’m talking Grammy Awards. That’s the highest expectations I can have so I don’t want to shoot for anything less. I want to be known as the greatest artist and producer known to man. I definitely have some hits that are Grammy-worthy and I expect for my project to get all the notoriety and acclaim that I know it deserves.