If you're not familiar with rapper/sound engineer N!c, now is the perfect chance to tap in with the North Carolina native. After consistently dropping for the past 5 years, N!c recently dropped his sophomore project, Playground, a month ago on September 24th. Using enthralling melodies heavily inspired by R&B, alt-rock, and rap music, N!c is one of the most promising young artists budding out of the emergent North Carolina music scene. We got to sit down and talk about his inspirations, passion for music, his latest EP, and how staying genuine to himself and his music as he continues to establish himself in the music industry:
Introduce yourself, who is N!c?
I am a 25-year-old artist from Raleigh, NC. I have been making music since I was a kid but never really felt confident enough to share it with anyone until I was in college. At first, I thought I wanted to just be a producer but I grew up with a fairly musical family so I have always been singing and stuff like that so I think over time as I grew into my voice and gained more confidence I wanted to be in front of the mic rather than making the beats.
Describe the North Carolina music scene. Has it been supportive or have you really had to grind in order to make a name for yourself?
I think I am still trying to figure out the North Carolina music scene like a lot of other artists because I feel that for the first time in a while, artists from North Carolina other than J Cole and DaBaby have been getting recognized. Those guys are great of course, but it is nice to see other artists getting some flowers and it definitely gives me a lot of hope for the future. I think since there are so many different artists in North Carolina you can't really put the sound in a box. It's different from places like New York, Atlanta, and out West that have recognizable sounds which I think is super dope because it really just shows the talent and versatility of the artist that are in North Carolina. I feel like with every new song or project or piece of content I put out, I gain more support. I am still paying my dues as an underground artist, but I do appreciate the progression I have seen from when I first started to now. I definitely had to grind to get where I am now and I know at first I wanted immediate validation for what I was doing, but I think I had to let go of that "pick me" attitude in order to really come into a space creatively where I am not people-pleasing and I am just making what feels good to me.
Who are some of your biggest influences musically? Your music really draws upon a couple of different genres.
I have a lot of influences from different genres and that is why I feel like my music probably does draw upon those other genres. Also when I was growing up, my parents didn't allow me to listen to rap music so I was often listening to music from other genres up until a certain age. That's why I am a big fan of Paramore, Fall Out Boy, and Green Day but I was also listening to a lot of the radio R&B that was out at the time like Usher and Chris Brown. It wasn't until I started sneaking around with my older brother to listen to the rap music that was out at the time that I started to appreciate rap. That is when I became a huge fan of guys like Lil Wayne, T.I, and Busta Rhymes. I think now my biggest influences come from the artist whose music I resonate with the most mentally and emotionally. So artists like Drake, J Cole, 6lack, Bryson Tiller, SZA, and Anderson .Paak are always inspiring me.
Your most recent project, Playground, just dropped at the end of September. How long has that been in the making?
Some of those songs like "IIWII" and "Ties" I made around last winter and had been holding on to them because I knew they were some of the stronger songs I had made at the time that I wanted to wait for the right time to drop them. It wasn't until maybe July that I decided I wanted to work on a project so from July to September was really the time that the majority of the project got done.
Were there some things you learned in between making your last two projects? I’m sure there had to be some major growth going from your debut in 2020 (Things Are Quite Different) to your second release.
Definitely, I think the biggest thing I learned was about my mixes and just the composition of my songs. Since I do my own engineering right now I am constantly learning new things and getting better so that my songs can have a quality sound so I feel that the mixing on this project is definitely a few steps up from my first project. I think the other thing that I learned was just about having confidence in myself and in my voice to really be able to attack the mic every time I recorded. I think you can really hear a difference in my voice and my confidence from Things Are Quite Different to Playground.
Where do you get most of your motivation and drive to pursue music from?
I really think the motivation and drive come from a passion for the art form. I truly love music and don't know what I would do without music in my life, not only the ability to make music but the ability to listen to it too. The other part of my motivation comes from a fear of being mediocre or just "ok". Especially since making music is such a vulnerable thing, I'm going to make sure that I can present that vulnerability in the best way so that my real feelings aren't being overshadowed by mediocre music. I love the fact that I can say however I am feeling in my songs and because it also sounds good other people are able to receive and digest it and have it resonate with them and their own lives. It makes my day when people reach out to me and point out certain lyrics in my songs cause it shows they were actually listening.
You recently just dropped a music video for the new single “Without Me” on October 22nd. How important have music videos been to you, as you continuously build up your name and following?
Music videos and any kind of visuals are a super important aspect of being an artist because your fans can put a face and a personality to the music they are listening to. I also think that sometimes visuals for your songs can help further drive the song's concept and vision that might not necessarily be clear or understood by just listening. Music videos can definitely open doors for you as an artist that I feel just the songs alone can't sometimes.
What advice would you give to a new artist, or advice you got when you were starting out that has been really helpful in your career?
My best advice would be to do what you want and what you feel is best for you as an artist and for your character. I feel that keeping that in mind while you are going through your journey can help you stay on course and not fall off track. I have had a lot of people try to tell me what kind of music I should be making, where I should be living, how I should dress, how I should be marketing myself, and all types of other stuff but I rarely ever let any of those things throw me off to what I felt was right for me and my career. To be honest, the times where things didn't work out or did not go as planned were because of the fact that I got other people involved and tried to listen to them about what I should be doing.
Listen to N!c's latest project Playground, out now: