f you haven’t heard Nolan The Ninja’s music, now is a good time to start. He’s at a point where he says he’s grown up and is becoming more serious about his career. On the cusp of releasing his sophomore album later this month, we caught up with Nolan to chat about new music and his career thus far.
BLAC: How did you get your start in music?
NOLAN: I was going to school for a few semesters for communications. I had to leave because I couldn’t afford it. So when I left, music was kind of the only thing I had to kind of occupy my time. It kept me out of trouble and everything. I just went full throttle. I started really just digging into music and just figuring out how things work, meeting new people, networking and things like that. When I had to leave college, I thought, “(Music) may be it.”
B: What’s been a highlight of your career so far?
N: Recently the Detroit Institute of Arts honored several MCs, producers and DJs (in exhibit D-Cyphered, open till Feb. 18); people who were pivotal or important to Detroit hip-hop. It’s me, Eminem, Royce da 5’9″ – anybody part of Detroit hip-hop that has contributed a significant amount in some sort of way is on the wall, for the most part. When I started to do music, I wasn’t thinking about all this stuff, I just wanted to rap, keep money in my pocket and just have fun. But I would say the DIA was the moment where I was like “OK, maybe I’m doing something.”
B: What can we expect from your upcoming album YEN?
N: YEN, it’s not like Japanese currency. It’s “yen” as in to want something or to have a desire for something, like a yearn. Throughout the album I touch on my upbringing and how it’s affected the things I want. Certain symbols that I was raised seeing held high as achievements. The first single from the album was called “14K.” 14K is gold. Gold means achievement, it means top ranking. (The album) also deals with being humble, which is the second single off the album – called “Modesty.” Throughout the album I touch on a lot of stuff: where I grew up, how I grew up. My grandmother is on the album. It’s more so a personal album. YEN is me getting older and becoming more aware of what I want.
B: What are your goals?
N: I would like to do a lot of things. I would like to start a media company where we shoot visuals. I would love to direct videos and formulate treatments for videos. I would love to manage up-and-coming younger artists. I’m definitely looking at other outlets and to expand on the production company, expand on businesses. Most of all, I just want to be happy. I’m not trying to be a Drake, I’m not trying to be a Kendrick, I just want to be a person that inspires others. I want to be a person whose work is appreciated. Those are the things that are important to me.
YEN is available Sept. 22 on all streaming platforms. Pre-order a digital copy on iTunes – or on vinyl and cassette at fatbeats.com.