Gentlemen, treat your ladies right because Nathaniel is ready to take her off your hands if you don’t!
R&B singer, songwriter, and producer, Nathaniel is a Brooklyn native who hails from Fort Greene projects. In his rising career he has collaborated with many heavyweights in the industry including, Remy Ma, Papoose, Ludacris, Swizz Beatz, French Montana, Jadakiss, LL Cool J, Ray J, and many more.
Apart from being a multi-talented artist, and quite the ladies’ man, Nathaniel is a single father to an adorable teenage boy and the founder of his own company.
Read on to learn more about Nathaniel’s inspiration behind ‘Stickup Kid,’ the message behind his music, and his ultimate goal in life.
Congrats on all of your success so far! And on your newest single “Stickup Kid.”
Thank you, thank you.
Now I have to ask, what was the inspiration behind ‘Stickup Kid’?
I would say that there was multiple people that were in that situation where you are outside looking in like, “This dude, man. What are you doing over there?” The funny thing is it can come from the standpoint of a female friend and me, like, nothing too intimate. I have a female friend and she’s in a situation [like this]. But then I have a male friend that took a guy from a girl because it was the same situation. Not only is it a story that is directly related to me, but it is a story that one of my friends is in. There are so many things that attributed to me making the record.
Okay, so do you believe that all is fair in love and war?
I think so [laughs]. There’s a war out here!
[Laughs] I guess if there’s no ring then it’s fair game.
Exactly. It’s on an poppin’! [Laughs].
Oh alright. So you have a little savage side.
Yeah. I’m the lord of the rings. Let’s go! [Laughs].
At what age did you realize that you had talent?
Well I actually grew up singing in church with my family and I was forced into choir. It’s a culture thing for us. Everybody was in church and the kids sung. I think even if you couldn’t sing at that point you were singing in the church. They were like, “Oh, you’re a kid. You have to sing.” I don’t think I was always naturally a singer. My whole family sings, but I think I was always the worst one. I don’t have a singing voice, but over time, just singing and singing, I started to develop the muscle. I think that’s where it developed for me. I think maybe in junior high I realized I could really actually sing though. Beyond just the church and the choir. So I was singing around junior high at about 12, 13.
You have had the chance to work with a lot of prominent people in the industry. Is there any piece of advice that one of them has given you that really stuck with you?
I would say don’t burn any bridges is one of the constant things I hear from a lot of industry guys and women that I’ve worked with. They always say that relationships are everything. Don’t burn bridges and build relationships because relationships are going to get you the furthest in this industry. It’s not only talent. Gimmicks can work too, but relationships—who you know, and who can plug and vouch for you are everything.
I watched your documentary The Real Nate, and I really loved the New York vibe that it had. Right in the beginning you stated that there are 1 million and 1 people who can do what you do, and you understand that from being a NY native. You are obviously very talented, but what is something you have that no other artist does?
That’s interesting because it’s one of the most common questions that every artist is going to get asked on multiple interviews. I really think it’s being able to develop the music from the perspective of your own life. It’s really the only thing that we have. We all sing, we all have unique voices; we all are able to rhyme and work with metaphors. None of that is really going to make us stand out. It’s really when you begin to take your stories and the stories that apply to you, and deliver it through your music. It’s the only thing that’s really going to individualize you because it’s your perspective, your stories, your experiences, but that’s if you actually decide to deliver that in your music. Some artists—they just want to make a song about the club. It’s when artists decide to dig a little deeper into what they’ve been through and things that relate to them through their eyes, their lenses, that’s when you start to see the difference in that artist. So, I would say that’s what makes me stand out as an artist. When you start to hear my stories, or the way that I deliver a love song based on how I experienced love.
You’re also a father. How has being as father shaped you as an artist?
I think it’s cool because my son is into the newer music. He’s 12 and I’m a single parent so my views are really primary over any other parent. He’s with me all the time. I feel like he looks up to me. He hears my music and it may seem a little older for him, but I know that I always want to apply a certain level of wisdom and intelligence in my music because my son is listening. You get what I’m saying? My son is listening to this. I can talk crazy, but I can’t talk too crazy.
So you have him in mind when you make a song.
Not every song because some songs I’m talking like it’s beyond him, but he even dabbles in music a little bit too. At the end of the day if I want to set an example, if I wanted my son to be a musician, I want him to be a musician with content. A real musician, you know? I would never drop the ball because I have to be a role model for him first.
In your documentary, Papoose said that you are an artist of substance and I got that vibe from you instantly. What kind of message do you want to send with your music?
I definitely have those songs that are just for fun in the club, right? I’m doing this, or I’m meeting a girl. I always want it to bring some feeling of happiness first off, but I want it to mean something even if it’s a club song. If it’s ‘Stickup Kid,’ I’m taking the girl from her guy. The message is treat your woman right; women don’t be in an abusive relationship. I want my songs to hit and leave something every time if I can. Some songs, I’m not going to lie, you just can’t because you are having too much fun, but that’s what I really want my music to do. I want people to listen to it, and there is always an underlying message to each record. And the “Stickup Kid” video is coming soon. You’ll see there’s a message to it. It’s not just me taking a girl from a guy, you know? [Laughs].
It’s not that simple?
[Laughs]. No it is not that simple. You have to absorb everything that happens in it. The bigger message behind it is one of domestic violence, like a walk away type of thing.
I was curious, because you write your own songs, do you think you’re a better songwriter when you’re happy or sad?
That’s a good question. I think I am a better songwriter when I’m sad. When I’m upset. When I go through something, mainly love-related. I have a home studio, and I literally don’t write my songs with pen and paper because, I don’t know, I set the mic up, I play the beat, hum melodies, and sing the words. I’ll stop, go back, and build he record that way. But when I’m emotional, and it can be any type of emotion, it’s a whole different way that I deliver a message because I’m literally sitting there thinking about what I can to say to you. I’ve even had women who would tell me, “Listen, I listened to your songs because the stuff you say in the songs, you don’t say that to me.” I’ll make a song and he like, “Here that’s for you.” They’ll be like, “You never said that to me, but this is how you feel?” The funny thing is it took me a while to realize it’s true. Then, not only am I saying it, I’m singing it so I’m giving you the emotion behind it because music is what feelings sound like at the end of the day. You can hear my depression, or my distress, or my dissatisfaction, or my concern, and the way that I say it. It’s way better than doing it cold. When you feel a way it just comes on it’s own.
You once said, “Once I’m in the zone and I’m on stage I pretty much make a transformation. Whether I’m singing or I’m rapping.” Can you describe the transformation you go through when you go on stage?
Yes! It’s an interesting moment when you know you’re next up. When the person goes, “Nate, you’re next. Get ready.” I hate that, man [laughs]. It’s just like, don’t tell me when I have to go. Of course they have to tell me, but that moment is—all of a sudden you have to go to the bathroom and pee. It’s like, yo I just peed five times because I knew I was going to have to pee, but he just told me I’m next and I still have to pee [laughs]. It’s just nerves. The more that I perform, and the more that I do music; the more I’ve learned to turn that into excitement. Before I’m on stage I’m literally like, is my mic right? All of the questions are passing through my head. You are literally thinking about everything. As I’m walking to the mic, or the forefront, I’m shedding all of those questions and it’s like the closer I get to it, the more that it’s behind me. The minute the first sound comes out of my mouth I’m on cloud nine. It’s like I don’t even know any other place. You don’t even realize that you would be so into it. It’s two different people. The guy that had to pee is completely not the guy that doesn’t want to get off [the stage].
How does that compare to a studio vibe? That’s a different type of transformation, I suppose.
It’s more private and my studio is at home. I don’t even feel the studio vibe. I just feel like I’m home, and I’ve been living in my house for over eight years now. I’ve had moments though when I’m working with bigger artists. I remember I did a record for Wu Tang because they wanted to do a reunion in 2015 after all these years. They wanted to come out. They wanted to put out a single. They didn’t know what single to choose. My manager put me in the studio like, “Listen, put him in the chorus of something. He could probably create something that can go for your single.” I was in the studio with four of them and they were like, “Okay, cool. Put him in the booth and let’s see what he can do.” So, you’re under pressure, a whole different kind of pressure, because they didn’t give me a chance to try to write. They just put me in the booth, behind the mic, and just said, “What he got?” Just straight up like that. I came up with this record that they used called, ‘Keep Watch.’ Those moments in the studio were like—those were tough because you literally have to show what you got. Every shot I get, I have to win. I don’t have any room to fail. For me, those moments are everything. It’s scary because if you get it wrong then you might not get this shot again. There are a million people that are dreaming of being here.
Speaking of studio time, we’ve heard your single, ‘Stickup Kid.’ Is there going to be an album coming soon?
It’s interesting because I have a whole project ready to go, but I’m trying to decide when I’m going to drop it. I’m trying to decide if I should rush an album and just attach it to the video link so that people that see that video can be like, ‘Oh, new music here?,” or if I want to make the release of the project a separate thing. I’m also trying to decide if I want to do an EP first, and then an album. Whatever it is I’m going to put it out for free.
What is your ultimate goal as an artist?
I own an IT company separate from music. I graduated from college and started an IT company. I definitely want to build that and the information technology unit of my life. I know music can be a big platform for that. Imagine on the Grammy’s like, “Is anybody’s computer broken? Just call me.” [Laughs]. It would be an amazing platform to drive business to my IT company. My brother does IT too so he’s a partner. He can run it while I’m doing the music. Other than just doing the music I really want to have opportunities to do more for people. I don’t have to start a label and do things to create revenue to say that I’m complete. I really want to be able to create some type of image of myself as somebody who did things for the world. If we can’t find a way to make this make sense and help people, it’s all for nothing. Why do we [artists] deserve it? Why would we really deserve this out of the millions of singers in the world if we’re not going to do anything for anybody? Even if it means going to the hood and helping people pay for college and scholarship programs. If we don’t do anything for people we don’t deserve this. I’m definitely going to do scholarships. I’m going to do food drives. That’s light stuff. I want to find a way to just really create a system that people can replicate when I’m gone. I want to help people and make more musicians do it too. What does it mean to be a star if you can’t do anything for humanity? That’s my own logic. I just always talk about this with my crew.
You kind of sounded like Tupac just then.
He was one of those artists that always did speak in that direction, understanding that it’s bigger than us.