Natia Talks Real Hip-Hop and Making Music for People Everywhere
When it comes to what or who he stands for, Natia doesn’t want to pigeonhole himself. “I’m representing the small man,” he tells TIDAL. “The people. Russia, Tokyo, Japan. People everywhere.”
As TIDAL Rising Artist of the Week, the Inglewood-based rapper has a universal story defined by struggle, survival and persistence. And although his sound may be distinctly SoCal, his message and reach are not confined to countries or coasts. Influenced by the greats, from Nas and Em to Biggie and Big L, Natia embraces the power of community in his craft.
“I want kids to listen,” he says. “I want the kids to know that what I’m doing is hip-hop, rap. This is what actual hip-hop is. I’m real passionate for this.” In our conversation with TIDAL, Natia breaks down the personal story that spawned the passion, the precision that went into 10K Hours and why, in spite of his rough beginnings, he can today describe himself “happy as fuck.”
Tell me about your background and break your story down for me.
I’m from North Inglewood, California. I’ve been a struggling artist. I’ve been homeless for seven years, hungry, sleeping outside the tennis court at a high school. I’ve been rapping since [I was] 12. Lived in the hood. My mom still lives in the same place since I was zero, in a small, little apartment. That’s pretty much it. A struggling mother fucker, robbing mother fuckers and shit. Doing what I gotta do to survive to make money, to put a roof over my head and making these rhymes in a tennis court.
How did you get started with rapping?
I’ve been rapping since I was 12 years old. I had Eminem’s shit. I had a book called Angry Blood, and I used to say like, “This my rhyme: ‘I met a retarded kid named Greg with a wooden leg,’” but it was really Em’s shit.
I just kept going, writing my own shit. Then I listened to people from Interscope like Tunji and this group called Warm Brew. I hooked up with them and talked to their manager from Interscope and kept going, going. This was when I was like 19 or 20. These were meetings just to talk. It was really nothing. And I was going through hardship.
For two more years, I was sleeping on the street. You know, drug use and shit like that. I was trying to find a manager, but I couldn’t do it by myself. I had to really do everything by myself. I had a team, but they fucked me over, so I would wake up by myself on the tennis court, go to sleep by myself every day. Then I got a good manager.
How do you feel about the space you’re in right now putting out your debut album?
I’m happy as fuck. I put my blood, sweat and tears into this shit. I hand selected each word, down to the word “the.” A lot of shit goes over people’s heads because the world accepted so much of mediocre music that they’re not used to hearing my shit. We selected each word very strategically so people can be like, “Woah.” And I’m proud as fuck because I don’t usually think in this type of way. I don’t usually go back and analyze and proofread my shit. I recorded songs with different hooks seven times with each beat. From intro to outro, this is probably my best work. My life’s work. This is my baby.
What about the content of the album? What is this album about?
It’s called 10K Hours. Actually JAY-Z was talking about some shit like that. To be a professional is to be a professional. You gotta put in them hours to be the greatest at what you do. I’ve been on that since I was about 12 or 13. It’s just all the work I’ve been putting into this music scene. My whole life is on that shit. So it’s like ten thousand hours. I’m a professional at life.
Do you feel like you’re representing LA in your music?
[I represent] the people. Just the people. Russia, Tokyo, Japan, people everywhere. I’m representing the small man. The white collar and the blue collar.
Your music tends to have a darker tone to it. Has it always been that way?
Well my life sucks, you know? You know that part in the movie where it’s like oh my god [bad], and then it becomes happy. That’s how my shit is.
You look happy at least.
Yeah, that’s my middle name.
Okay, so your life sucks but your middle name is Happy.
I used to think it was a curse but it’s a blessing too.
How do you feel you rise above the circumstances?
It’s the music. I just keep pushing, pushing, pushing. It’s a really emotional thing sometimes. Sometimes I could cry or be happy. I know a lot of people just make shit and I don’t know if they’re proud of it. People do music just because it’s cool, like skateboarding, until they eat shit. All of this shit means a lot to me. It makes me happy as fuck. Even in the darkest situations I’ve been in. That’s the only thing that gets me by.
TIDAL is proud to announce the world's first music service with High Fidelity sound quality, High Definition music videos and expertly curated Editorial.