Artist Spotlight: Nay

20XX Team

March 16, 2023

We got a chance to speak with Brooklyn based rapper, fitness guru, and positive soul Nay (@naybk08). On the heels of his latest release, King Kong, Nay tells us about his work as a musician and where his creative energy and vibe come from. When I spoke with Nay, I could get a real sense of stoicism and positivity; he is resolute in who he is as a person and a musician, and isn't shy about the type of work he wants to create. He says just what needs to be said and nothing more, getting straight to the point and standing in that, whatever that point is. His freestyle game is sick, appearing on any stage or show to crush mics and nothing less, with bars that break beats in true destructive, King Kong fashion. Hear what Nay had to say about who he is, the city he's from, and where he's taking his craft.

Interview by Matthew Loyd

20XX: Tell me about your craft and where you're from.

Nay: I'm from Brooklyn. My craft, I'm a personal trainer, and I'm an artist too. I rap.

How much would you say being from  Brooklyn influences and shapes your craft and what it is you do?

It is my craft, I wouldn't be me if I wasn't from Brooklyn.

Can you elaborate on that? Like speak on your experiences and the vibe, the Brooklyn culture that influences you.

I feel like, to be from New York there's a certain level of street smarts that we have. It's not common. Depending on the borough that you're from, you just come with a different swag, but I feel like Brooklyn got the best sauce ‘cause I’m from Brooklyn, feel me?

Which borough-And I feel like I already know your answer-do you think has had the best bars since Hip-Hop has begun?

That's a good question. I'm gonna go with Brooklyn. Not because I'm from Brooklyn, but I go with Brooklyn.

Who were some standout artists for you when you were growing up that were in Hip-Hop that you really looked up to and influenced that answer?

Big L, and Biggie. From New York, those are like my two most–oh and then Jay-Z, close second. Rakim, really just I think that whole period, the 90s era, was so impactful, so crazy.

Yeah it was pretty prolific in Brooklyn, I'm a big Mos Def fan myself.

A lot of what you've shown on your socials and your appearances on different shows, events, and venues, is you freestyling. How important would you say that is to Hip-Hop, and a rapper's ability to rap?

Depends on who you're talking to. If people really respect the skills, then people who can freestyle would be where Drake would be, commercially, you know what I'm saying? Personally, I think you can't be a rapper without knowing how to freestyle. You don’t have to be the best at it, but that’s a part of the craft, that’s one of the tools. It doesn't have to be a marketing tool, but how can you be the best that you can be as an artist, if you don’t have one of the essential tools that make you an artist?

Would you say that freestyling is a constant thing that you're working on, or do you focus more on making finished songs?

Both, they’re two different crafts. That's the way that it’s looked at too. People who have the best songs, they're considered to be the best rappers of all time. But I know somebody who could freestyle about this whole interview right now, and break it down crazy and make you think about some crazy shit, but they’re not looked at like that. It’s two different crafts for sure and I work on both all the time.

What do you think it is about the two of them that make them so distinct? You were saying somebody can like freestyle and just go crazy, but then there's the part of it where you have a finished song and people appreciate that. What would you say is different about the two?

I think when you make a song, you want to say things that people want to repeat, and when you freestyle, it’s good for the moment. And that's what makes it really great, because it's in the moment, it's very skillful. But for making songs, the hits that are always remembered are the ones that you remember the words to. So you got to say memorable shit.

In your song King Kong-very nice song by the way- it has an afrobeat kind of upbeatness to it with the percussion, as well as with your delivery of the lyrics. Do you think that's a style you wanna continue in? Do you see yourself doing more like that?

For sure, I think that's the style, to be honest with you. I feel like afrobeats are just great music to listen to if you want to move. Like even if it's just the instrumental, you hear an afrobeat, you're moving your body. So putting the right words behind it, obviously, people who originate from where afrobeat comes from make it sound lit. We don’t really have anyone who’s doing it. You know who was doing it? Pop Smoke. But he died. He was making it wavy because it was relating to New Yorkers and people from the hood, like us.

When I was listening to your song, honestly, I kind of got a little bit of that vibe too, and I didn't even know that Pop Smoke was moving into that space. I think maybe it's the deepness of your voice as well as the way you delivered the bars.

Yeah, because it's like the shit that we do all the time, you know what I'm saying? And once Pop Smoke started to tap into that, he died. It's crazy like that. I think that's the way to go, to really bridge the gap because afrobeat is lit. Don’t get me wrong, the way it is now, I wouldn't change it at all. I think afrobeats period is WAVY, but for the audiences who don't really connect with us the way they should; [the goal is]  to understand the way they speak, and connect to that. Some people aren't willing to do that as  listeners. So if you can get somebody with a sound like that to bridge that connection, it’s gonna go crazy.

Absolutely, I like that. Do you dance? Do you like to dance?

Of course, absolutely.

So why the name King Kong? Are you a fan of the movies?

I am a fan of the movie, but it's just how the hook came about. I was just vibing, and that’s what I said, and then I was like “That’s the name of the song”.

Is there anything else on the way that you can talk about that maybe is within that same route, maybe it’s a bit different?

I shot a music video yesterday, actually. I'm not gonna reveal any details about it yet, but that's what's coming next, you feel me?

Bet, nice! We ready.

What are some things that you do to keep you know your passion and motivation for your craft and for music lively?

I'm not gonna lie to you, every morning when I wake up, the first thing I do is put on a motivational speech. I just search on YouTube “Motivational speech” and I put one on.

Who do you like to listen to?

It don't matter. I don't care, it’s the same message.

That's cool. What do you think the importance of that is, especially in starting your day that way?

I think…personally, for me, I'm at a point in my life where it's like I absolutely love what I do, but I'm realizing how much of a routine it Is. You have to do it all the time, even if you love it, you have to do it all the time. If you don't do anything, that's still a routine. So I'm really trying to maximize and I'm like “oh, Man”. Forreal.

Would you describe yourself as an underground artist?

I guess? Because the city don't know what's up yet, but it's gonna happen soon.

What are your thoughts on even that term “underground” and that space?

I mean, I fuck with it. I don't see anything wrong with it. That's more motivation for me, that come up from underground you know? Because that's what everybody’s gotta do, right?

Do your due diligence.

Yeah you gotta do your due diligence. It's definitely getting done, so it's only a matter of time.

What do you think about the up and coming music scene in New York City right now?

I think it's great, and I actually think the ladies are running the scene. 

Yo, for real, I'm glad you mentioned that because I've been trying to figure out how other people are seeing that, because they're really coming up right now. This is something that has come to my attention lately; the lady rappers are really killing it.

Yo and that doesn't have anything to do with them being ladies; I mean whoever feels bad about it, they got to step their game up. But the ladies are killing it right now.

Where are you trying to make your place in that scene?

I’m trying to be the best, so it doesn't matter who's who.

Got you. And if There was one thing you could say to all of New York City right now, what would it be?

We about to be back on the map.