Nathaniel is a Brooklynite, vocalist, actor, and writer with credits for French Montana, DJ Khaled, Wiz Khalifa, Remy Ma, Swizz Beatz, and more. Nathaniel has been thriving throughout the years and we recently spoke with him about the current state of music, being talented versus popular and his new single Tear It Up.
When did you first realize that music was your passion?
Well, I grew up singing in church and I come from a musical family. So everybody pretty much sang and I think I kind of was forced into it in a weird way. Personally, I fell in love with it outside of the choir. Around 12 or 13, my brothers and I started practicing R&B records and I started moving toward the R&B thing.
Jacket: Artist in Residence x Sharon Leslie | Denim: Zara | Watch: Techno
What was your favorite song to sing at that time?
Dru Hill 5 Steps. We actually practiced more of their songs than anyone else. We did Boyz II Men songs and Shai, If I ever fell in love. But I would say, Dru Hill’s 5 Steps is my favorite when I was with the group.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, how did that influence your sound?
A lot of my music and some of the messages that I spread through my music is from my own personal experience. There’s always the question that comes up, “how are you different from every other artist?” I think the one true way that we are different is based on our perspectives. We all sing about love, we all sing about hate, we all sing about the club and we all sing about partying. What differentiates us is our perspective and how we deliver that message. So, me coming from Brooklyn, my experiences, the background, the fights, the girls, everything, all contributed to the way that I tell my story through music.
You’ve worked with some of the best in the industry. What did you learn from working with the likes of French Montana and DJ Khaled?
One of the things that I did learn is to never stop working and never get comfortable no matter where you are. I look at some of the guys that I’ve worked with and they are still working where they are now. It taught me no matter where you are, never get complacent. Just make sure you continue to be creative, reinvent yourself and continue to push yourself if you never made it anywhere.
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How did you get started in acting?
In high school, I use to do a lot of plays. I remember going to an audition for the “Night of the Living Dead” because my best friend Fresh wanted to go. I said, “I’ll just come to support you with the audition”. He tells me to “Just sign up”. So I ended up auditioning with him and I’m not taking it seriously. I’m reading the script not that serious and he is going in, but the next day when they post it on the wall, they gave me the lead role. So, that’s when I started acting.
What is your process when it comes to writing music?
I got a studio in my crib and my mic and setup are literally right next to my bed. So I roll up out of bed, brush my teeth before of course, turn on the mic, turn on the beat and I’ll come up with a melody alongside the beat. Then I kinda go over that melody with words and kind of think line to line. It’s been a while since I actually took a pen and paper and wrote because I feel like I need melodies. I need those melodies to bounce off of for the words.
Who would you like to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?
Musiq Soulchild. That was the first artist album I bought. He’s my favorite writer. I would like to work with Jay Z, of course, because he’s from Marcy [projects]. I think that’d be super dope. Fabolous is another person. I’m open to working with anybody but I think that’s probably top three.
What do you think about the state of music right now?
Well, the state of music as a whole is more wide open for us. You could become anything overnight. You’re not stuck in a demographic or stuck in a geographical region. You can literally be in Brooklyn, dropping records in Germany and the internet gives the German fanbase access to you. Next thing you know, you’re flying out doing a show. I think in that aspect, its a great thing from how open it is. I got to be honest, a lot of the genres are becoming watered down and the water is becoming muddy between R&B and Rap, like rapping singing. Now you have rappers singing, singers rapping and then they meet in between and do this trap thing. It’s a little muddy but you still can make a million dollars overnight by streaming and stuff like that.
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What are your thoughts about talent versus popularity?
Honestly, that’s providing an opportunity for a lot of people to feed their family. It’s a lot of people that can jump on social media, crack a couple jokes, become funny, and then they can become an actor and/or become an artist. You can’t get mad at a new way in that’s not blocking the old way to make it. This is just another way to get it. If you are original and unique enough, can’t nobody get in your way. We can’t complain about that.
Tell us about your latest single Tear It Up.
I actually linked up with a producer named King James. He did a couple joints with Fab and he had this beat and gangstarr sample. His manager sent it to me. It took me a minute to really sink into it because I knew I had to respect the sample and really come with that the right way. It took me a while to really get that record together, but I knew that ultimately I wanted to release a record that had something to do with feeling good, partying, and mentioning someone you hollering at after a party. Just a real feel-good record. I took a chance with it and threw it out there. Then we threw Casanova on it just to give it some steam can and now we getting a lot of feedback on that.
What can we look forward to in terms of new projects?
I’m actually going to do a project, an EP called Limitless. It’s in the works now and it’s definitely coming soon.
Polo Top: T-Christopher | Gray and Orange Jacket: Chuck Collins
What else can we look forward to from Nathaniel?
I just started a label called Fort Greene Music. That’s really what’s coming next. Everything is just going to be on a larger scale, pushed behind an emblem. We are going to start growing in that direction. I no longer want to be looked at as just an artist. I want to change the conversation globally.
Feature Image: White Coat: Wan Hung | Hoodie: T. Christopher | Pants: Zara | Shoes: Hancock