Headliner Interviewzzzz: Nyle

Nyle is a young rapper from Philadelphia who has been living in New York City for the past five years. His music is a unique blend of humor, self conscious introspection and left-field insight. Last year, a video Nyle shot as a senior project went viral, garnering a million views on Youtube, which you can check out on his site here. Last week, I interviewed Nyle near his apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn about music, life and more. Check it out:

1)   Tell us a little bit about your self. What projects are you currently working on? My name is Nyle, and I am the lead vocalist/rapper of Nyle vs. the Naysayers. I’ve been in New York for about five years now, and we are about to release our first album

2)   You released one college-themed mixtape. Now that you have graduated, what is the concept of your upcoming album? What I originally wanted to do was to complete Capstone as an EP, and we were going to switch it to the Capstone LP/Capstone album. We were working on the same songs for so long, and we had so many more new songs we decided to take the new things we’d been working on and some new songs we had been playing live and get some of those down. Right now, I think we are still formulating the “concept” of the new album, but it already has a vibe of its own. The album is going to be called Nyle vs. the Naysayers because of our creative arguing in the studio for the past 8 months. We want to get everything perfect, and I think the concept is going to be battling the Naysayers that are in your head when you really decide to do your dream. Whether you’re a business entrepreneur or you’re just doing something that everybody says you can’t do. If you say, “I want to be a doctor” and everyone is like “You’re too stupid to be a doctor” or if you say “I want to be a rapper” and people are like “Everyone wants to be a rapper, why would you do that?” The naysayer is the voice that says you can’t do what you’re doing.

3)   When did you know you wanted to make music for a living? I wanted to do a lot of different things. I never really thought I was cool enough to rap. I’ve been rapping since 8thh grade just because everybody does it. So I started to be a DJ, but I didn’t have enough money to be a DJ. I bought these cheap turntable packs, and they broke. I wanted to be a b-boy.  I couldn’t stick with it; my knees hurt and I was like ‘fuck this’! I still did a lot of acting and a lot of poetry, but I didn’t really like working with directors and stuff like that. So music was the only thing that stuck with me. I guess the moment when I really knew that I wanted to do music was after senior year. I got on stage  at the Patti Labelle concert this 4th of July. She had this thing where she pulled people from the audience, and I kicked a freestyle. I was rocking in-front of tens of thousands of people on the Art Museum Parkway, and it was one of the coolest moments of my life . I was like: ‘Alright. I didn’t choke, and I was cool enough to  really be able to take control of this .Maybe I can do this.”‘ So that was like the first step. This was after I had been accepted to music school, but it wasn’t until that moment that I got the confidence to be like ‘okay I can do this’.

4)   Last Spring your video for “Let The Beat Build” went viral. Besides actually making the video what kind of work went on behind the scenes to make that happen? I was working with a company called Springshot started by my friends in Vamoose. The guys in the group are rappers but also businessmen, so they created this Start-up, and then one of their friends was a publicist Archie from Springshot actually pushed the video. He sent it to a bunch of his contacts, and through that, it went to Nahright; it spread to 2dopeboys and then Okayplayer picked it up. Then all these other people picked it up, but Archie was the initial fire. It spread faster than anybody thought it would. I went to school the day after we had this Kids In The Hall concert. It was my end of the year performance, and we released the video. We thought that that(the concert/release) was going to be the big thing, but there was a protest from Take Back NYU which happened the night of the concert. There were supposed to be 400 people coming, but the protest cut the attendance in half, so that sucked, but we did the concert. We blazed it. The next day, I came to get my drums from NYU, Funk Nasty’s drums, to bring back to my crib and my friend called and was like:” Nahright  got the video,” and I was like “Sweet I was hoping that maybe I would be able to get on Nahright.” It was a really great moment, and by the time I got home, it was already on 2dopeboys and that was it. I was like: ‘alright I made it! That’s great!’ Then next Monday it was on Okayplayer, and then Gawker picked it up, and Kanye picked it up, and then it was on the front page of Youtube. It just kept on spreading, and Springshot was  behind the scenes doing that.

5)   What do you think the future holds for the medium of music videos? I think the music video is becoming more and more essential. MTV and VH1 have stopped showing videos, but at the same time, MTV, VH1 and Fuse have channels that ONLY play music videos,– like MTV Jams, Vh1 Soul. There are a whole lot of places to see videos. Bands that consider themselves professional or really want to do something or really want to be heard– they all have videos to go along with their music. That’s how our generation and the generation coming up view music. They don’t want to just hear they want to see. They want to experience the entire image of the band and who they are and what  they stand for. So I think the music video is becoming a more and more important part of music and of the way people experience music.

6)      Who are your favorite “emerging” rappers? My favorite emerging rapper right now is Blu, of Blu and Exile. I play Below the Heavens probably everyday. It’s on my Blackberry and on my Ipod, and when I wrote the capstone EP, it was inspired by that album. A lot of stuff I’m writing now has been inspired by Below the Heavens, and besides that I would say..that does K-os count? I guess not; he’s not really “emerging.” FashaWn has been making really ill stuff. I guess right now I’m on the Exile bandwagon  Nick: What do you think about Jay Electronica? Jay Electronica makes me jealous because he is married to Erykah Badu, so we’re not going to discuss anybody that steals my wife. Jay Electronica  is ill; I want to see a full length work from him. The stuff he has put out so far, just a bunch of songs, has been dope, but I’m really an album person. Until he does that…well, that’s when I’ll be a big fan. J Cole is really ill. I have been listening to a lot of his work. And this guy, I don’t think a lot of people have heard of– Ayomari. He is from California. We played a show together at my crib. He has this album called PB and J Solution with him and his homey Tiron. They are both from this same Pac- Div, Blu and Exile kind of clique. You don’t see a lot of stuff about him on the blogs, but he’s really, really good.

7)   You use a lot of improvisation in your live performances. Why did you think it is important for a rapper to freestyle and why don’t more rappers do it live? Freestyling was just the way I was brought up when I started rapping. Right after I started writing songs, I started freestyling. At my high school I used to freestyle with the Jazz band and stuff like that, and that’s where my band first came from. I freestyled with the jazz band, and we started to make songs. There was this community class at Temple that became an excuse for a bunch of MC’s to come through to Temple and put a boom box on and freestyle for hours. When I was coming up;  a lot of people were freestlying. That’s what I was really into– that’s why I do a lot of it onstage. I think it’s important because it makes you a better all around MC.  If you really want to do this for a living or just really love it, you need to be able to do everything.  You need to be good in the studio which is a lot different from being able to rock a stage and that’s a lot different than being able to kick a written freestyle for hours on end like they do in Philly. And that’s a lot different from being able to kick an off-the- head freestyle which is also different from being able to battle. To be well rounded you need to be able to freestyle, but it is really hard, and it’s not necessary. I think a lot of people don’t do it because its not necessary.

8)   What cheaper end recording equipment have you had good experiences with ? I really am a fan of the studio condenser C1. We record at the Zoo studio up in the Bronx and that’s their low end mic. I like the sound of it. Sometimes I’m like “Oh should I use the C-1 or maybe I’ll use the Neumann which is a several thousand dollar mic.”  I also use the MXL although I’m not that big of a fan of it. I always have rocked the Mbox; I’ve never had a problem with it. In terms of speakers and monitors, I’ve always like the KRKs. I have the KRK Rocket 8’s– the really old ones before they started making them out of plastic. I’ve had them for a long time; they are really cheap monitors. And my favorite microphone in the world is not THAT expensive. It’s the Electro voice RE 20, and think it’s 300 400 dollars. That’s my favorite mic in the world.