Written by Glo(w) | Video Embedded | Playlist Embedded
Balance is a necessity. Each characteristic that is expressed through the human form lies on a spectrum. On each opposite end of each individual spectrum, the extreme versions of a characteristic are visible. Just as there is duality between light and darkness, these same dualities exist within everyone. Too often, we resist the fullness of who we are and plant ourselves on one specific end. We group ourselves according to those who are also riding the same wave. Though these forms of classification are sensible, such rigidness causes us to lose out on the opportunity to connect. Balance is the tool used to find harmony with the dualities of this world. And through balance, we all have the opportunity to grow into our full selves.
Many hip-hop artists tend to rely on one end of the spectrum. Their art, though not a full representation of who they are, may promote a single way of thinking. Media contributes to the lack of diversity in music, specifically hip-hop. The presentation of masculinity and femininity is often stark with no flexibility. Men, as the dominant forces, tend to avoid the parts of themselves that align with their full humanity. Though many societal and individual factors contribute to this, it is a reality that creates barriers. Najii Person is an example of clearly defined masculinity that is open and receptive to a variety of emotions. His music feels like balance. There is something for every listener. Whether you prefer classic hip-hop boombap drum cadences or modern ethereal synthesizers, there is something for everyone. Lyrics dipped in bravado and coated in sugar gives pleasure to the ears of men and women alike. Najii Person openly discusses lust and love, God and money, and a variety of real-life topics that apply to the everyday human. His balance is a display of love for self and love for all. And tha's something we all can practice.
Watch Najii Person’s latest release “Not Around” (captured and edited by Louis Quatorze) and get to know the man behind the music below.
Shot and Directed by Louis Quatorze
For the record, what mediums of art do you partake in?
The first kind of art I was influenced by was illustration. Naturally, I took to drawing things like cartoons and stuff like that, which I still do every once in a while. The music just had a stronger calling when it came to me.
How long have you been creating?
I've been creating since the age of 3 years old. So, about 21 years since I first picked up a pencil. I didn't start my writing journey until I was in the 3rd grade and I began producing in the 7th. I’m one of those people who knew from a very young age what I wanted to be in life off the fact that I never felt more alive when in the midst of a bar or a sound.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself through your creative process? What inspires you?
Through my music journey one of the most important things I’ve learned is that I’m persistent in the things I want. I've watched so many people take off and become super stars right in my face and they all have persistence. Never once felt defeated because of how much I believe in the God-given gift which is me. But it’s still a lot of journey left, so I'm still learning new things about me as well. I get inspired by my city a lot and people achieving their goals. Those are things that give me hope and inspire me daily.
A lot of artists pull inspiration from past creations (like older music artists, movies, etc.). Do you do this at all? If so, what are some of your favorite eras to pull from?
Anybody who knows me knows I love the movie Matrix. I pull so much from that movie it's crazy. I literally live my life like I'm Neo. Ironically, movies help me create music. It's weird. But on the music end, my inspirations are 90s gospel like Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin and anything that was dope that came out in the early 2000s including R&B, Soul music, Indie Rock and of course rap because Kanye is 75% of the reason why I started.
What’s on your playlist? Who are you listening to?
James Fauntleroy, Michael Anthony, Vaughn Vibes, Blaack Thomas, me, Eko, Elton Aura, Smino, J.i.d, Thundercat, Phoelix, H.E.R, Seals, SIR, and SZA. These are all the people who are currently on the morning playlist.
What do you think about music’s classification of genres?
I think it's just a way people keep themselves and music organized. It's like how we say that dude is white or that guy is black instead of just saying he’s human or a person. People love classifications and that's good and bad in a lot of ways.
What do you think about the way masculinity is presented in the media and hip-hop specifically?
I never got the song “It's a man’s world” by James Brown until I came of age and understood the privilege men had in America and even the world. Family, friends, TV, and role models all play a role in helping a boy define what it means to be a man AKA his Masculinity. So what do I think about how it's portrayed? Simple: media reinforces male dominance. Masculinity in media and hip-hop have their differences but in a lot of ways the same. I look at hip-hop as a sport because this is what the OGs in the game taught me and I want to be one of the best, so in some aspects I followed their blueprints. Hip-hop includes dominance somewhere in the rule book. Because people classify it as a sport, there must be a winner. Who is the better rapper? Who is the better producer? Best album of the year? I take it that serious but others don't and that's fine.
What do you think about the way femininity is presented in media and hip-hop specifically?
Sex is a system of classification, so in media they make sure masculinity and femininity are portrayed differently and separate. When it comes to femininity, media gives off weakness, submission, passive, disempowerment, etc. Hip-hop is arguably even worse with the way women are portrayed through words on record. I think we tend to forget how powerful words are. The same dude who called shawty a Hoe/bitch/thot on a song probably got a daughter or a wife but in his music he don't act like it. If I had a daughter, I wouldn't want her growing up thinking this is what I think of her or even if I had a son him growing up thinking it's okay to address women as such. But this is where masculinity falls back into hip-hop. EXAMPLE: If I called another rapper a bitch on record, it implies that I’m over you, better than you. The world/media tells me I have dominance over the women so by me calling you a bitch on record I have dominance and the hip-hop culture accepts it. It gets deep. I really wish I could go further.
What larger themes exist in your music? What is the most important idea you want people to get from your art?
The biggest theme of my music probably would be to stay attentive to your surroundings be aware of who you are. I just want people to get themselves. Stay true to the god particle that lies within and not what the matrix forces us to be.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
To be fearless
How do you think the creating process would be different if money wasn’t a factor? Mmmmmmaaaaannnnn so different and in a lot of ways the same but far as equipment way different. The more I have to work with, the more powerful I am, and the less I have to work with the more creative and dangerous I am.
Do you think it’s important for other artists to congregate and work together?
Of course! It’s great for artists to come together. Two minds are always better. That’s something we have been hearing all our lives but still don't understand the concept.
Tell me about your dream project.
My dream project will be called “Children Of Israel” Its a dark album about today's world as I compare my generation to the children of Israel in the bible. It’s very soulful but at the same time dark and heavily influenced by gospel.
When can we expect another project to be released?
My First ep is 75% done and I’m looking to the end of summer.
Is there anything else that you want people to know that they may not have gathered?
I love St. Louis and we gonna win together. STL the new NYC.
Follow Najii Person on Twitter and Soundcloud @NajiiPerson.
Follow Louis Quatorze on Twitter @LouisQuatorze.