On June 15th indie tribe. rapper nobigdyl. dropped his highly anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed debut Canopy. This time, armed with a Capitol CMG deal and tribe clearly on the move, dyl’s SOLAR debuted at No. 6 on the charts. Now was the time for everyone to hear the scope of the rapper’s time and efforts. From the first listen, you can tell that the record goes more than surface level deep. Luckily for us, nobigdyl. chatted with Rapzilla.com to take us past the treetops and into space.
The rest of this article will be in nobigdyl.’s own words, transcribed from a phone interview.
My mindset was to try to be as honest as I can with the music. I try to make music that is true to me that I personally like. Also, that I know for sure will benefit other people. It is therapeutic to me. I’m a story-based guy, I’m just trying to tell my story and the stories of people around me in an honest way that’s dope to listen to and make you think.
The timeline of this record isn’t necessarily linear either.
It was originally called “Goten” but I didn’t want to step on Aha Gazelle’s toes with his “Vegeta” track. I didn’t want to seem like piggybacking off what he did. If you listen to the song, it’s the story a protagonist in an anime will go through. The story it tells sets up for the whole project. It’s like an arc in an anime, especially the last verse.
block me back
I love playing that one live and people go hard for it. I feel like people in the crowd are more spiteful than me. It’s always a funny moment. I think people feel like if you really care about someone and break up, it’s wrong to cut off all communication with them if you still care and it’s not an ugly breakup. That causes so many problems where you end up not loving that person well. At best you are emotionally manipulating each other. That gray area has been very detrimental in my life. Sometimes the best way to love yourself is to cut that relationship off. Obviously, there are a lot of people who remain friends with their ex’s and their new significant others are friends and it was the right move. This is for the situations where it’s not. It’s definitely autobiographical.
I wanted OB on the production, and it’s still upbeat and happy sounding. It doesn’t have to be this epic tragedy. I go a lot with emotion and feeling. When I was writing it, I wanted it to feel like if you were actually in the act of cutting that relationship off. I want it to empower you and don’t want to make you sadder.
bad motives ft. Medisin
Medisin mixes Jarry Manna and Parris Chariz’s stuff. He killed the hook on here.
The creation of that song is really cool. It was from a sound message. I have 100s of sound messages where I have melodies and little lyric ideas that I record on my phone. It was just a tiny part of the hook and rhyme. I don’t play any instruments, I need someone to put a chord progression to finish writing this. So, I sent it to Medisin. He put the chords to it over the guitar and mumbled out a little more of a melody. I wrote the lyrics to his melody. Then we took the hook to Christian Sager and based on that hook we built out the rest of the beat. Then I wrote the rest of it. That was one of my favorite processes ever.
I need to learn an instrument because I have so many of those sketches. It comes from real place of always being the guy who people see in their life. He’s a really good guy. He’s always doing the right thing, has a good reputation, but when you look in his heart and motives, he’s just trying to get over on people just like everyone else. He just figured out a way to do it by being a good guy without being a jerk or a snake. You have the same motivations.
cordial ft. Weathrman
Wtherman is Wit and 42 North. They came together and made a production group. They are not actually on the song.
That’s probably top three for me on the album. The song was originally called “Oliver and Company” based on the Dodger and Oliver line. Disney doesn’t play though. What if we stylized it as “Oliver + CO?” We decided to leave it alone.
The line “I see you and I try to be cordial” is hyper autobiographical. You’re in a new relationship that you’re supposed to be in. But, early on into the new one, and shortly after the clean break of the old one, you miss the other person. You think, “Was that the right choice?” “D they think of me, I wonder what they’re doing?”
I did the block me back thing, but they keep popping up because they’re not letting you forget them. You feel like you just want the world to burn now. “I see you and I try to be cordial, not out loud, I just tap it in Morse code.” When you’re really anxious and upset and tapping your fingers on the table. If you took that same energy and expressed it out loud you’d be yelling. “I don’t want to spaz on you but why do I see your face in followers.” New numbers and social media, they keep popping up.
The album is not supposed to be “screw your ex’s.” The overarching thing in Solar – I feel like believers make music about four or five things and we shy away at any kind of meaningful discussion of relationships. We have the obligatory wife song or the one you’re waiting for type of song. But everybody has complicated, messy, confusing, frustrating, extremely ecstatic, tragic, and joyous relationships. When we only make songs like those, then we are saying to other believers who have regular messy relationships, go get your music for those moments. Get that music from Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, and Eminem. “We don’t have anything for you at this time,” but I do.
It was a vent session and a recap of how the last year went. I’m not trying to wrap this in a pretty bow, I’m just trying to rap. I didn’t rewrite anything. Exactly what came out, came out. I’m taking it back to some real hip-hop. It’s therapeutic and honest.
Dre Beats got a hold of it and wanted to partner with me for the album. That’s what the headphones are in the video. “We’ll take care of the video if he wears the headphones,” they told me.
pressure ft. John Givez
1995 (Anthony Cruz) sent me that track and I immediately loved it. It was very easy to write. It was just what was in my heart. When I finished it, I felt like it was a perfect sound and content for John Givez. That’s the only way that I do features. The song always comes first and then everything is informed by that. The few times that I haven’t approached it like that, then it comes out corny.
I had never asked John for a feature. I sent it to him and just asked if he liked it. He said it was “super dope” and asked if I needed anything for it. I said, “Whatever you think it needs.” And it was basically in the same format it is in now. I usually don’t dictate to the artist what I want exactly. When he sent it back, it was the version that’s on the album. John sang the harmonies and on the hook. He said he was going to do a verse, but I just felt like the song was complete and done. “The only way I could enhance without distracting from what you did is the singing vocals.” That’s what I try to do too, is just compliment the artist.
be a man ft. WHATUPRG
Someone asked, “What inspired this song?” and I said, “The fact that it took me so long to become one.” A lot of what we’re taught when we’re young about being manly is just toxic masculinity.
People will have good intentions. They’ll never say, “Women are sex toys,” but in a roundabout way they are digging into the stereotypes that women are inferior and just supporting characters in the movie that is about men. Then you mix people who are like, “Well, we need to protect women in every way because they are weaker physically, intellectually, emotionally.” What they’re trying to say is, “Don’t take advantage of women” but they’re framing it as they are not as competent as men. And the other side is, “Nah, just straight up oversexualize them and overtly devalue them.” Even the good side is still pretty bad. “I probably shouldn’t beat women but they are kinda here for my pleasure and boost my status. I should protect them from danger.” “be a Man” is trying to open up those conversations and take an honest look at ourselves.
Then RG came in and laced it.
That explanation point was completing a secret trilogy on the album. You have “twenty eighteen.” with a period and “enemies?” with a question mark.
Grace Fulmer is on the hook, she didn’t want the credit though. It is an important part of the album, it ties a lot of it together. The end of the first verse, “Imma put you through torment and make sure you cannot ignore it.” That’s a call back to “cordial.” A lot of people were like, “Is this an allegory for a spiritual thing?” Man, if it helps you that way…I don’t like to dictate to the fans what stuff is about too much. My favorite artists, that’s what they do. Let the music hit you how it hits you. A lot of art fans will like a song, and someone will explain it and they don’t like it anymore. They won’t like the song, and someone will explain it, and then they’ll like it. I just want you to go by if your ears like it when you hear it, not if I can hype it up enough.
Without songs like “psycho heart!” coming from me, there’s this big hole in content coming from believers, except maybe Justin Bieber. He seems to be taking his faith seriously. I think he’s about to do a worship album. I’d be cool with him doing that and I’d be cool with him doing his old music with a couple of tweaks. A believer making music for life. There’s no hidden deep metaphor, it is what it is.
shadow ft. Jesstaylo and Sarah Juers
Amazing, I love it. If it’s not top three, it’s top four. Songs like “pressure” and “shadow” are for people who like lyricism and deeper cuts. “shadow” is supposed to feel like those moments you look in the mirror and contemplate your existence, what type of person you are, the mistakes you’ve made.
I wrote it on a plane coming back from LA coming home super late. The cabin lights were off. I had written “psycho heart!” And another song that didn’t make the album. That trip was crazy. I wrote “twenty eighteen” in an Uber on the way to the session to write “psycho heart!” Literally, I had my headphones on in the Uber because I didn’t want to talk to the driver. Wrote that and two songs in the actual session and flying back “shadow” came to me.
That one is brutally honest. I don’t want to over explain. If you listen you’ll get it. I had written the whole song without a hook and then I sent it to some of the homies and Lawren was saying he thinks it needs a hook. I was hesitant, but he said I should try. We’re in the studio and I tell him to loop the space between the beat and 30 seconds later came up with the melody and the lyrics. Then we got his friend that lives in his apartment complex to lay down the hook. “I fight my battles beside my shadow,” once I said that, that’s literally it.
I completely opened my whole life for everybody. I feel like we have scars to the benefit of other people because they don’t get the same wounds of us. We can walk them through that in a way that they don’t have to go through that. That song by far is the one that people have hit me up about. “Man, I’m in tears listening to this. I thought I was the only one to have gone through this.” I’m trying to go through the process of storing a lot of the notes I got from people on this album. It’s like the “Suicide Nets” of this album as far as impact, said Mogli. It is straightforward about forgiveness, and grace and failure and redemption and the type of love that when you do wrong it pulls you closer – wife and God. I did that one in LA too.
That’s my favorite one right now. It’s the technical nobigdyl. end of the album with “enemies?” being the bonus track. You come through the whole album and all the ups and downs of the story that started in “anime.” You are made into the protagonist and you go through the events of SOLAR. SOLAR is the name of the “anime” that you are placed in. That’s the arch. You come out in “orion.” That’s like the celebratory track. You’re going through all that and you’re experiencing the love that holds you close. They can’t keep you silent…there’s nothing that can stop you. It’s about being a light in a dark place.
1995 did production in the main part and Derek Minor did the outro part with the chorus. He helped me create that choir. It’s real musicians playing the bass and the keys. He arranged it and put it all together. The choir is made up of my actual friends. It’s mostly non-artists. The ending sermon part is my pastor. I just chopped up one of his sermons that fit.
The choir part makes me emotional. Telling the story through the words and the sounds, it was happening in real life because I used the people who got me through these situations on the album to make the music.
I was at Mogli’s apartment trying to figure out the sequence and “enemies?” was originally third. I wanted to get this super upbeat song out of the way so that it doesn’t mess up the story. We took it out and realized it goes at the end. The story ends with “orion” and then “enemies?” is like in a movie when it says “three years later…”
For more on the social experiment and marketing behind the track, click here.
So there you have it. nobigdyl.’s breakdown of SOLAR. There isn’t much left to say except go listen to it with the knowledge you have now.
Purchase or stream the album here.