Nolan the Ninja started off as an admirer of Guilty Simpson’s work, and from that he went on to build a musical relationship that grew and has now collaborated with the legend himself. The multi-talented artist produces and raps and has just released a beat tape ‘'lo-fi l∞ps.’!’ which conveys a nostalgic, lo-fi approach of beat chops & loops.
Stimulate Your Soul chats to Nolan about what it was like collaborating with Guilty Simpson, the first beat that got him hooked on producing and what we can expect from future projects. Margaret Tra writes.
You just released a beat tape, tell us about how it came about?
To be honest, 'lo-fi l∞ps' just randomly happened. (laughs) Initially, Dart Adams of ‘Producers I Know’ contacted me about featuring on a compilation project that he was working on. I accepted, then sent him a batch of beats. Once he heard the joints, he decided that he wanted to put out a solo beat tape on me instead. Ironically, the exact set of cuts that I sent him are the 10 tracks featured on the tape. Again, it unknowingly came into play...
Who are your influences?
Music, in-general. I don't have a set artist or band that I look to for influence. Growing up, I was exposed to all genres. My mother was a neo-soul (R&B) fan, my brother was into alternative rock, etc. I learned something from each format of audio, doesn't matter who or how. As for my personal favourites, I enjoy A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, J Dilla, Madlib, Boot Camp Click, The Roots & so forth. I could go on forever. (laughs) As of late, I've been listening to Da King & I, though. (They were a duo signed to Dallas Austin's label in the 90’s.)
What was the first beat that got you into becoming a producer?
Actually, it was a song that I did for ZelooperZ. He's a protegé of Danny Brown. We came up together on the Detroit music scene because we're around the same age. When he was working on his first project, he heard that I was learning how to produce. Then, he asked me for some cuts. Shortly after, I sent him the beat that would later become "CartiAIDS". Honestly, I didn't think that he would use it but he surprised me. He even shot a video for it, which surprised me even more. Listening to it now, I cringe every time that I hear it. The reverb is mad high, there's no melody behind the drums, it's just mad f*cked up. (laughs) Anyway, that's what started me.
You're an emcee and a producer, which one do you prefer?
Well, rhyming came first so I'm going with that. Nonetheless, producing is great as well. It's cool to create music without having to create words to go along with the track. Sometimes, I just want to vibe out & hear nothing but instrumentation, you know? I love them both, though.
You've collaborated with Guilty Simpson and Red Pill, what was that like?
Those are my peoples! I've learned so much from them. Especially, Guilty. I used to only see him on the internet to now, being on a first name basis with him. Same with Pill. I saw him on YouTube back in 2010 or so. Now, I actually have their contacts & able to hit them up whenever. I started out as a fan, to essentially being a friend of theirs. Like I said, they're mad cool & people that I look up to.
What other projects are you working on?
Well, I'm sitting on a few projects. I just love to create. Even if I finish a batch of material, I'm still booking sessions to keep the creative flow going. That's just how I work, though. Nonetheless, everybody'll get a chance to hear everything throughout the next year & a half or so. Keep an eye-out for updates!
Could you walk us through your production process?
Eh, nothing to it. Since I'm a sample-based producer, I start with a record to flip. From there, I chop it & then proceed to add the drums, sound bytes or whatever sounds right. Basically, nothing much. (laughs)
What stimulates your soul?
Life! There's nothing better than experience life & growth...