Music

SZA And Kanye West Collaborator Nascent Talks His Four 2022 Grammy Nominations

“This sh*t took a little too long,” Nascent says with a laugh.

The Chicago-bred, Mexican-American producer has navigated a long road prior to notching the four Grammy nominations (Best Melodic Rap Performance, Best Rap Album, Best R&B Song, and Album Of The Year) he now lays claim to. Being fully independent is a major point of pride for “The Tallest Mexican” as he has earned his way into some huge credits and gained knowledge along the way that he commits to passing along to other producers. Nascent got his start at 18 years old, traveling to New York City on a whim to connect with DJ Kay Slay, ultimately to no avail. However, he made the most of his trip by walking to Madison Square Garden to the G-Unit office and got two placements with 50 Cent on “Redrum” and “Strong Enough.” These achievements pushed him to drop out of community college, fully commit to his craft, and now the work speaks for itself.

Prior to the SZA “Good Days” and Kanye West “Hurricane” placements, Nascent’s most notable work was helping to break Brent Faiyaz, contributing to the now RIAA platinum-certified “Trust,” gold-certified “Clouded,” and “Been Away,” among other Faiyaz records. He has also worked with Lil Wayne, Ty Dolla Sign, Kiana Lede, Offset, Elle Varner, and many more. Despite collaborating with these major names, the 33-year old has mostly played the shadows but is now ready to fully break out, especially having turned down a million-dollar publishing deal after the success of “Good Days.”

Though he advocates for independence, Nascent understands that’s not an easy thing for everyone to stick to. He even admits himself that had he been offered a publishing deal upon his first placements with 50 Cent, 20-year-old Nascent likely would have taken it. Now, he can look back and revel in his self-belief as he has the potential to walk out of the upcoming Grammys with four awards; something he believed should have happened a year prior if F*ck The World was submitted.

We spoke on New Year’s Eve, with tequila and Tecate in hand, about manifesting this moment in his life through tweets, how “Good Days” and “Hurricane” came together, his plans for the Grammys, independence, and what is next in his production career.

Describe the feeling of being Grammy-nominated in four words.

Holy sh*t, is this real? Nah that’s five words. Shocked, grateful, recognized, and alreadyknewthatsh*twasgonnahappen. I’ve been talking about this sh*t for years. So many years I thought we were close because of Brent or others projects I’ve been a part of. We’re continually doing things outside of what the norm is, but I knew “Good Days” had to be nominated. “Hurricane” came out of nowhere and I wasn’t too sure because I don’t know how them people feel about Kanye. I don’t think he cares. That’s where I got the most nominations. It felt good to get here.

Did you know the songs you’re nominated for were submitted?

I assumed. It wasn’t smart to assume but I figured they had to submit for this sh*t. I had no knowledge of it prior though.

Where were you when you found out you were nominated?

I was home in Chicago with my family when nominations came out. In Humboldt Park, a neighborhood I spent a lot of time in when I was broke. I was doing what I’m doing now, but I was broke thinking I was doing sh*t. I had a long way to go. It was symbolic in that aspect, being back home with family in that environment where up the street I used to crash at my ex-girlfriend’s crib when I wasn’t couch surfing in Los Angeles. It was a perfect way for me to get the first one.

How did the “Hurricane” placement come together?

I went home to work with Chance The Rapper on “Good Ass Job” in 2018. We were at CRD Studio; Chance had the whole main level booked and Kanye was upstairs. I saw ‘Ye in the bathroom and was awestruck. “F*ck, that’s Kanye, bro.” We’re in Chicago and that’s Kanye. If you make beats, you studied him. You’re influenced by him in some way, but being from the crib and doing the sh*t he did, chopping samples up as he started, it means even more. I overheard someone say Boogz was upstairs and I was like “Oh sh*t, my boy Boogz.” He’s a Chicago legend and I’m happy for him because he’s getting his flowers. He’s a wizard and one of Kanye’s closest friends. I texted Boogz and he said “Man, come up you good!” I gave Boogz hella ideas that day. “Hurricane” was an idea I started and he went and did what he did. There were two ideas I kept hearing when I would walk around the rooms. I heard Kanye rapping to “Hurricane” and I was like “Damn, that’s crazy.” I knew my position and my role. I didn’t get ahead of myself. I trusted who I was working with. Some producers are reluctant to give up control and follow someone else’s lead, but dealing with Boogz, he’s someone of high character and he got it done.

When did you hear the final version?

I heard a leak on YouTube, but just with Lil Baby at first. I knew it was out of here once I heard The Weeknd on it. It sounded different from the original, but it is what it is. I figured it was going to go crazy though. I didn’t think it was going to come out. It was from over three years ago, and on top of that, Kanye does what he wants. It was interesting to see the process.

Did you get to make any of the listening sessions?

No, but I watched at the crib.

Talk about now three-time platinum “Good Days” and how it felt to make that alongside people you consider family.

That was a special one for me. I made it with my friends. Working on the SZA record was more in-house and it felt like more of my signature along with LosHendrix. It felt more personal. I was able to do the beat and add little details Los and I do. “Good Days” was done around 2018 but it feels like more of a timeless classic. It doesn’t have a date on it.

What was cooler — “Good Days” being Grammy-nominated or put on Barack Obama’s Summer 2021 playlist?

Ah, that’s hard bro! Shoutout to Barry but the Grammys for sure! That’s tight though man. It’s cool because the Grammy situation, we don’t do this for that. Some of our favorite records we’ve worked on haven’t even been nominated, but they’re still great and impacted music in many ways. The Grammys is our championship. It’s our way of telling people we got something. It’s cap when people say they don’t give a f*ck; they do give a f*ck. A little recognition, who doesn’t want that?

In your 2010 interview with ThisIs50, you mentioned wanting to work with Jazmine Sullivan. How does it feel seeing her get her recognition?

I love it. It’s going to be her year. Jazmine Sullivan is a legend, she’s a GOAT. That’s tight as f*ck she got nominated. It’s about time. It’s about being patient. I still want to work with her because we would make some sh*t. I’m gonna put it out there in the universe and manifest it. She’s on my list.

Describe how it feels to have reached this point, all things considered.

All that playing yourself down to make other people comfortable is over with. It’s a dub. You don’t know what people have to do to get through what they go through. You can still be confident and not be an asshole. I’m gonna talk my sh*t a little bit because it’s been a long journey.

You’ve tweeted in the past about your Grammy outfit. Take me through the night, what you plan to wear, what bottle you’re popping if you win, and what Mexican dish you’ll have.

I’m going to be in some clean, sleek ass Saint Laurent or Tom Ford. There’s going to be a statement or something on my outfit. I think it’s important if I’m there and take some pictures, it’s got to say something and mean something. Shake the tree up a little. I’m probably gonna pop a bottle of champagne, Ace of Spades or some Mezcal tequila. I might go out that night. As for my meal, some rice and beans. My mom makes these great fried chicken taquitos with guacamole. We’ve got to go all out, bro. A lot of times the narrative is the good guys don’t win. F*ck that. We’re doing it how we want to do it–our way, independently. Unfortunately, you’ve got to eat more sh*t and be patient but you can get there. When you do it like that, nobody can tell you sh*t.

What would you tell the nine-year-old kid who wanted to be a pilot?

I always wanted to fly planes up until I turned 11 or 12 and bought Stillmatic, which changed my life. I would tell nine-year-old me that everything you’re feeling, you’re right. Knowing you’re going to do something, you’re right. There isn’t a thing I would change. Do everything you did. I would wait as long as I had to wait because it’s more rewarding. It happens just as it’s supposed to happen, especially when you move with character and integrity.

You’ve spoken in the past about going to Mexico and exposing people to music, production, and information. What’s the scope of that vision now?

I want to do it in Mexico and Chicago, too. I want to make it for everybody. I do it now in the way I do business with collaborators. A lot of times I’ll be in sessions working with people and try to read the room to see if I can talk about it with them. They may not want to hear it or they may be doing the opposite of what I’m doing, so I don’t want to add insult to injury preaching independence when they’re signed to a f*cked up deal. Often times I’ll be telling producers about standard stuff that I already know on the business side, but they don’t because of information gatekeepers or simply being given the wrong information. It’s so important to give the game because it’s free and the game don’t lie. It’s not like I’m giving you the DaVinci Code, I’m giving some basic sh*t. It’s f*cked up. The way I do my business is fair and I only want credit for what I do.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on an album with BJ The Chicago Kid and another project with Orion Sun. I’ve got a couple of placements on Brent’s next album and hopefully, we can get him on my album, too. I plan to drop my second album by the end of next year.

Some of the artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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