We kicked it with Nick Grant and discussed his recent success; meeting Nas, working with BJ The Chicago Kid and much more.
Get familiar with the Carolina rapper below.
Tell us about your most recent project ‘Return Of The Cool.’ What was the process like?
No disrespect to Epic Records and Culture Republic but for me, it was meant to be a mixtape, so I treated it like a mixtape. I had so many quick ideas that I wanted to shoot – I wasn’t thinking “album,” I was thinking “something to just put out and stay in conversation” but it started sounding so good. [The Project] sounded so good to the executives and the business people that they wanted to put it out as an album – my first album – but in my mind and in my heart it’s not really my first album. It’s great though. It’s a great body of work.
It sounds amazing.
Thank you. Just for me, I just knew how much better it could have been.
For the title “album” I understand – I feel like there is so much power behind that, especially for an artist.
Absolutely. I wanted my first album to be hard-hitter. You know, I come from Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Reasonable Doubt, Ready To Die, 2PACalypse Now, Illmatic – great classic first albums. I wanna be in that conversation of “first” or “debut” album, you know? Just that cloth of people.
How was working with BJ The Chicago Kid?
Man crazy. That’s like my brother, I work with him any chance I get. For me, that’s the second project he was on. He was on 88, the record called “Trouble On My Mind” just singing background vocals. I just try to have him included in everything that I do musically. Great energy, very inspiring person. Just helpful, [he’s] one of those people that just wants to help – if you’re dope though. You gotta be dope. He’ll go out of his way, he’s just one of those people – if you’re helping yourself then he’s gonna help you too. I just get so much knowledge from him, hopefully, he can say the same thing about me.
You partially answered this question above, but are there any other past/old school albums you gain inspiration and insight from?
So all those ones I named, but we’ll stay away from Hip-Hop.
Joe Sample –– Old Places Old Faces
Miles Davis – Rebirth Of Cool
Marvin Gaye… honestly, I have so many different records
Michael Jackson – Off The Wall
I’ll just name artists – Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder who’s my all-time favourite, I’ll say Stevie Wonder’s Hotter Than July. Oh man, I have so many, so many different people I listen to just to clear my head. More that than rap, whether it’s Erykah Badu – Baduism, any Erykah Badu album. D’ Angelo, who’s another one of my favourites. Maxwell, Angie Stone. I listen to a lot more of that than rap, it helps me with my writing too.
How do you feel about being referred to as a “90s” or “throwback” rapper?
I don’t really like that. I mean I’m glad that they like a lot of my influences come from that, but I’m much more than just that time capsule.
I don’t think we can box artists like that anymore as well because there’s so much new music and sound and subgenres of Hip-Hop now, that when we box people in “Oh, you’re a 90’s artist” or “Oh, you’re part of that Nelly South-Funk wave” we’ve passed that.
Yes, exactly. We’re so much far passed that. For me, I’m much bigger than that. It’s dope that you can say that “Oh, he sound like he from this time or that time” that’s cool because a lot of great people come from that time period. But why is it that everybody that raps, they put in the 90’s box? That’s crazy. Nah, get me outta that. Matter of fact, I’ll step outta it myself. I’m just a guy that talks about his life and his experiences, and if it comes off a certain kinda way, cool. Everything I do is different. Even if I sample a new record, they gon’ say he sounds like a 90’s rapper. We know what this Hip-Hop thing is built on and how we came up with it, but Nick Grant is not a 90’s rapper. I’m not a just-stuck-in-the-90’s-rapper at all.
What are your 5 favourite songs right now?
Raphael Saadiq x D’Angelo “You Should Be Here”
Kindred The Family Soul “Far Away”
Playboi Carti “Wokeuplikethis*”
The entire DAMN album
J. Cole “Neighbours”
How’s the tour going? Tell us some highlights and lowlights.
Oh man. When I went back home to Atlanta – I’m from South Carolina but I live in Atlanta now, I’ve been there half my life – when I went back home to perform, the crowd was just insane. Crazy. Standing ovation. Jumpin’ around. I’m just looking at the crowd with amazement, it was just one of those moments where you had to be there to experience that.
Other than that, Ab-Soul is just a good dude, just a genuine dude, he’s always like “share my rider with me,” “share my room,” “do you need gas money,” and I’m just like “huh!?” Haha. Just a solid person. You can have everything in the world, and he’s still going to offer you whatever, he’s just a genuine and honest person. He carries himself a certain kind of way, same energy BJ has. Good people have similar energy. If I’m anything like Ab-Soul I’m good. That’s a solid, cool dude, just 100 all the way through.
What was it like meeting Nas?
Just sitting down with Nas, like that’s NAS. I was speechless. We were talking about everything from the mentality our people are supposed to have, to how to save your money, to Hip-Hop, to who’s his favourite – I was one of ‘em which is dope. Just talking about everything, [how we were] growing up. I didn’t know he had ties in the South, in the Carolinas to be exact. His grandmother was from North Carolina so he would go down there to visit her. Just to hear that I was in awe. So many of the same experiences that I would go through, so many of the same stuff that I would hate as a kid in Carolina. Just those stories that I would relate to, it made me look at him deeper than just a ‘rapper’. Now he’s one of my favourite people. He’s accomplished so much, yet he still took the time to sit down and converse with me. It’s Nas man – arguably the greatest rapper ever.
What do you have planned after the tour?
Me and DJ Drama are working on a project. I’m actually prepping it as we speak. In my mind it’s not the traditional way of doing it, I’m still kind of making it like an album. It’s sounding dope. Shout out to Chance The Rapper too, he made it to where mixtapes can be nominated for Grammy’s.
I really think this shit is gonna turn into an album – how it’s sounding, and the type of records I have on it, Dear Mama-esque Rap Songs on this project, so I’m real confident about what’s to come.
Be sure to cop Nick Grant’s Return of The Cool here and stream it below.