Rapzilla Freshmen Nic D Aims to Impact People & Uplift Others Before Focusing on Himself
I hadn’t heard of Nic D until his name was announced as a Rapzilla freshman for the 2020 class. I knew I’d be interviewing him in the near future, so I looked him up on Apple Music, hit “play all,” and took to Google in order to educate myself.
His flows are thoughtful and pointed, a mixture of honesty and refinement. The music is easy to listen to, the kind of music that can bring you to a hypnotic trance momentarily. As the background music rose and fell, I began to click his name on YouTube and various sites. He seemed to be an artist intensely devout to his craft, and he had gobs of videos to pour through. His long brown locks and his wire-rimmed glasses add a mystique to his overall vibe. “I can dig it.” I thought.
Watch Nic D Below:
A few days later our schedules finally sync up. It’s night here in Vegas, around 7:30 so in Virginia, it’s three hours later. I texted him after I put my kids to bed to make sure he’s still cool with the call, and I receive nothing but a “hang loose” emoji. What else should I have expected?
I call him and immediately it’s like he’s interviewing me. He’s very comfortable and personable. His voice has me at ease.
“We just put our kid down for the night as well. I guess he goes to sleep a little later than yours.” He observes.
I respond with my normal twin dad cliches about how life is crazy with double of everything and he proceeds, noticing my area code. “Are you calling from Colorado?” I explain that I just moved my family to Las Vegas after 13 years in Colorado. “Ok cool, how are you liking it?” he continues.
Without even saying anything about himself he’s already said a lot to me. This is someone who is genuinely interested in others. This is more to him than a flash in the pan artistic jaunt, this is about relationships, this is about listening to people rather than spitting out his opinions and agendas on wax.
After some more small talk and literally talking about the weather, eventually, I’m able to navigate the conversation to its purpose. I really called to know more about him.
“So… you’re a professional photographer?” I ask.
It was then, in Nashville when they were all around a table together that Hoppie, Hill, and Nic realized they were all part of the same freshman class. He had no other thoughts about being a Rapzilla freshman past that. As a person who strives to live in the moment, he says his mind is bad at latching onto certain points in time.
“Here’s a little backstory,” He says, like an old friend settling down to share conversation over a cigar on his back porch.
“When I started really pushing my music in January of 2019, I never went to follow people for follow backs, I didn’t do any type of networking, I just kept my head down. I wasn’t in the loop of CHH or other artists who were. Not in a ‘disrespect to them’ way, but just a genuine ‘I just want to keep my head down and focus, I don’t want to be distracted’ type of way.”
“I don’t make music to impress Christians.” He asserts, growing more pointed in his conversation. “My intention is to reach the farthest person out. Someone who wouldn’t even have a conversation about Jesus if you tried to shove it down their throat. Someone who really likes hip-hop and finally gets a moment to listen to what I’m saying and wonders ‘why does he speak this way,’ or ‘what’s different about him?’ That person then DM’s me and I have an opportunity to answer with Jesus, and not lead with Jesus.”
Intentionality is an important trait for any creative person. It’s refreshing to hear of his passion to reach those who are the farthest away. Without saying it again it’s evident he’s driven by the notion of impacting people.
“Typically there’s three things I write about. Glorifying my wife. All my love songs are about my wife – I want to make that cool. I want to make loving your wife cool. I want to make being a good father cool. I want to make being a Christian cool. I write about how I view people with a platform who don’t put good things into the world with their platform. And if I don’t write about those things then I was in my feelings about something. More often than not it’s just an instrumental that sets a feeling, and I go off of that.”
The three tiers represented here are pieces of who he is and what he’s devoted to. He’s a zag to the common zig of pop culture that pushes finding identity in personal freedoms and selfishness. “He wants to make being a good father cool” I tell myself. I like the sound of that, it’s so relatable and it’s easily something I’m on board with.
“I had never really treated music as something I could do for a living or a career until January of 2019.” He says, seemingly sifting through the memories of how this new journey started. “It began from scratch. I had zero Spotify streams and around 1,000 Instagram followers who were just probably a bunch of friends from High School.”
“I had a lot of growth last year and it was really cool, I think it was because I put out a single and a video every two weeks. So I put out 24 songs last year with 24 music videos. I think that might have helped a little bit.”
He started out the year trying to do the videos himself. The first six in fact were him directing and handing a camera to a friend, then trying to add some magic himself to the video in post-production.
As the year moved on, he accumulated new friends and people who believed in what he was doing. One of those was Cakes Mitchell, a media company owner from Baltimore. Later it was St. Finnikin, who was able to elevate a lot of Nic’s craft, as they zeroed in more on creative direction, thought and style. With Nic, Cakes, and St. Finnikin, the three became a cord that’s not easily broken.
“The three pieces coming together was beautiful,” he explained. “My drive to meet the goals I had set, Cakes who was good with a camera, and then St. Finnikin who takes the creative focus in the proper direction.. the three of us collaborating really took things to the next level.”
Watch Nic D Below:
His videos are full of unique concepts, perspectives, and occasional props. There’s obviously a lot of creative force brewing in the minds of these three, but he still remains grounded. “Even though I was pushing on music more than ever, still my last priority was music.” It’s only after the routine day of work, fatherhood, and husbandry, he said, that the group would sit around thinking of something new to do that hadn’t been done before.
He recalls the feeling of finding himself within the secular scene, and at times it felt like he was being eaten alive. I compare him to Tobe Nwigwe, referencing how this is a person putting positive music out at a similar pace as Nic, who also finds himself in the secular market.
We both agree that whoever it may be, in this market you have to find new ways to gain traction. Xay Hill is another artist who comes to mind for us, who continues to work hard and shell out song after song.
“By the way this video I was in Nashville filming with Xay… it’s one of the best songs I have heard…” he says, pondering his next word. “I don’t want to even put a ‘…since..’ on it. It’s a very good song,” stated seemingly through a glowing smile.
“You know… I filmed this video, so every time I do that I’m usually tired of the song because I have to listen to it repeatedly. Not with this song though. Every time I watch this video I get chills three to four times. I’m telling you, this song is phenomenal. Have Xay send this song to you. I’m telling you it will blow up!”
It was like we took a journey away from how he wanted the conversation to go and now we’re back where we started. This is where Nic is comfortable – talking about others. His “other-centeredness” comes out of him naturally. He’s pushed a Xay Hill track stronger than he’s pushed his own stuff. That’s so dope to me, but it doesn’t mean he’s not methodical.
When asked if there’s any wisdom or encouragement he’d like to leave for his new fans, he stated. “Love people well, and leave it better than you found it.” I jokingly quip those are the same words written on his merch, but he holds fast.
“Those were things that my grandfather never said to me out loud with his words, but he modeled them to me in his actions.” Nic continues, “He’s a gardener, so the back of one of my shirts says ‘Plant Seeds’. There’s the real sense of planting seeds in people, seeds of inspirational thought, motivation or love. Cultivating them, harvesting them and watering them.”
In this 20 minute conversation, I’m left equally inspired and refreshed. This is someone who took to heart the actions of his grandfather and is impacting others with the noticeable light he holds inside of himself. My hope is that today you are also enlightened and challenged by the heart that is evident behind what Nic is bringing to the culture. Nic D isn’t only a person that we didn’t really know, but he’s a person we didn’t really know we needed.
Nic D’s new single, “Mona Lisa” will drop March 27th.