Nick Grant is having the best week ever. The Return of the Cool rapper rocked the stage at the 2017 Budweiser Made In America Festival last weekend and just days later, it was announced that he would join the PowerNomics Tour with Nas, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Dave Chappelle.
We caught up with the South Carolina-born, ATL-raised rapper just before his MIA set to talk about what he learned from Jay-Z’s 4:44, the advice he’s gotten from industry OGs, and how Chance the Rapper would fare on his old stomping grounds.
On the most important lesson he’s learned throughout his journey:
“When things slow, just keep forward. You’ll have your time again. I’m one of those people that plan to be here for the next twenty years. So, I know I have my work cut out for me. I know there’s going to be other people who are hot in times when I want the spotlight…you have to be a very, very patient person when you’re working in this industry. Patience is a virtue.”
On the music that changed his life:
“We’ll say ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ by Jay Z… ’cause around that time, you know, I was… (laughs), yea, so that’s one. The first album was Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg. I remember taking it to school for show-and-tell. Mind you, I was very mischievous as a child—I would get in trouble, get whippings, all kinds of stuff. So, I took this CD to school for show-and-tell and my teacher saw me. There was a lot of commotion in class because the artwork was so graphic. She called my mother and when my mom took me [home], she was like, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ Mind you, I was getting whippings for everything else, so in my mind I always felt like that meant something. Also, Nas’ ‘Rewind,’ when he told the story backwards. It was a different approach, I’d never heard anything like that, and that inspired me to try different things with music.”
On the feedback he’s received from hip-hop legends:
“Andre 3000 told me I’m one of the best rappers right now. Nas told me it’s a good time for hip-hop to have me. Jay-Z told me I was special and to keep going.”
If he had to choose between 4:44 and Lemonade:
“4:44,” he replied without hesitation. “It’s for me like Lemonade is for you. 4:44 taught me different things, like how to be vulnerable. I felt he’d been vulnerable in different areas in his life over time, but with 4:44 he gave us so much at once. For him to give us that and to be around for so long and still be the best rapper in the game, it’s like you can’t compete with that. It’s Jay-Z. 4:44.”
On Chance the Rapper’s interest in Clark Atlanta:
“Wow, that’s dope,” Grant remarked after hearing that Lil’ Chano tweeted about wanting to attend the HBCU. “Either one that he attends is cool, but I would say [he should choose] Clark Atlanta just because of my loyalty and the things I went through on that campus,” he added in response to hearing the social media manager for AUC rival Morehouse College encouraged the Chicago emcee to consider them.
On whether Chance can cut it on Clark’s famed Promenade:
“I don’t know, it’s a lot of competitive lyricists and it’s different from making songs when you’re out there battling. But I don’t even know if the temperature is still the same…back in the day, it was different. It was rough, people were fighting just because they were losing back then. It was different.”