Brixton born, but raised in County Clare. Lil’ Nate isn’t afraid to explore his heritage. The Jamaican-Irish rapper crafts conscious and genre-defying music that explores love, hate, war and peace.
Is there something specific that inspired you to become an artist?
Mainly old school Hip hop; Tupac, Biggie, then also J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Gang Starr, OutKast, Big L and Bob Marley. All of them inspire me to tell stories in my music, that’s always what I rap, something that people can relate to.
What do you aim to communicate through your music?
I hope that the music that I put out there can relate to people no matter where they are in the world. I make it for the youth to do better because I’ve been through a lot of stuff – hopefully people can do better than me. I tell stories about my mistakes, talk about positivity, talk about love, talk about hate, talk about war, talk about peace.
Are you represented by a label or do you or do you work independently and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m an independent artist, but I’m also part of a collective called ‘Go For It Records’ which consists of rappers, producers and musicians . I’m also part of a booking agency called UMC Management, So yeah.
I’m working on releasing an EP before December. I just released an EP back in May ‘Hopes and Dreams’.
In the world of hip-hop and rap, what would you say makes your style unique?
I feel I’m unique because I’m an Irish-Jamaican hip hop artist living in the UK. I’m not trying to fit in with any trends. I’m not trying to blend in with anybody just for the sake of being popular enough and I’m trying to stay true to myself and stay true to my craft.
What informs or inspires your creative process?
I find inspiration to make songs depending on my mood, I write them everywhere too. I could be on the bus, I could be on the train, I could be walking and I could be writing some songs depending on what’s going on in the mind. Before I go to sleep, when I wake up, it depends what comes to mind and I write it down. That’s the process.
Do you have a specific audience you’re trying to connect to?
Right now, the audience I’m trying to connect to is around my area in London, then I’ll branch out worldwide.
Tell us about your EP ‘Hopes and Dreams’?
That is my best piece of work to date. It consists of six tracks, all different genres, a bit of grime in there, hip hop, afrobeat. It’s done very well, reaching 40k streams on Spotify, I’m happy with that. We got plenty radio play as well on Reprezent radio, HFM and BBC Introducing.
Which song of yours means the most to you and why?
‘Watch me’ and ‘What Do U Think This Is?’ which I released two years ago because they’re closer to home. I’m talking about the life I used to live when I was raised in Ireland, all the racism I used to go through, all the bullying that I got, all the fights I got involved in, and all the times I got harassed by the police. It’s true stories that are close to heart and soul.
What would you tell someone starting out in your industry?
I’d say keep on going, stay determined on what you’re doing. If you’ve got a passion for what you’re doing, passion for what you love, just keep doing it. Stay creative, keep on writing, keep on doing what you do Never give up, never give up the dream.
Is there anything more you’d like to say about your music and mission?
First and foremost, my mission is to tour the world and to be big in the game. And I’d like to shout out to the ‘Go For It Records’ crew. I’d like to shout out to People’s Army, shout out to my boy Kidzee from back home, shout out to DJ Green back in Ireland. Everyone who keeps it real, shout out to everybody who shows love to Lil Nate. That’s me and my mission, it’s not done, it’s just getting started.
You can find Lil’ Nate’s EP ‘Hopes And Dreams’ here.
Words: Aimee Armstrong
Images and interview: Brandon Thomson