“I won’t stop till I change the narrative of what it means to make it out of Brooklyn,” the rapper Najjee, who hails from the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, wrote on his Facebook page. Of course, Bed-Stuy, a sprawling community with deep cultural and historic roots in the area, spawned legends such as Jay Z and Biggie Smalls a few decades ago, showing the world the way out from poverty to fame. But that was then before New York’s ubiquitous gentrification process came along and fundamentally altered the city’s demographics and socio-economy. Now, people want in to the neighborhood, with its multi-million dollar brownstones and artisanal coffee shops. So, is creativity dead in this new, richer, and whiter Bed-Stuy?
Not quite. Enter Najjee, a bright, 23-year-old star who proves that there’s still culture and brilliance to be found in Bed-Stuy.
Najjee, a first-generation American, grew up in a Trinidadian household with seven brothers and a sister. Their mother was a singer in the 90s gospel group Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens and his father was a popular reggae artist. Music might have been a dominant force in the family but as a youngster, Najjee had a different idea for his career: he hoped to become a stockbroker.
“I wanted to wear suits everywhere I went by age 30,” he told me during a recent phone interview. That changed, however, during his final years of high school, when he said he suddenly realized the extent of his natural musical talent. In 2017 he dropped his debut single, “Walk It Out,” which gained so much attention and traction that he decided to pursue a career in music, releasing 19 singles and 13 visuals over the years.
In April, Najjee dropped his debut album titled, Uninvited. The album, which showcases his versatility and pure artistry consists of 13 songs and only 3 features. There are songs on the album like “All Money In” where he explores his vocal range and delivers a strong message. In other songs like “Kick Door,” he boasts his lyrical marksmanship, which is nothing short of impressive.
Najjee has big plans for his career, aiming to reach a worldwide audience without signing to a major label. Rather, he hopes to do so by solidifying beneficial relationships and brand partnerships with his 15-men collective called The Krookz. Even at this fledgling stage, he’s already had a taste of the international music market when last year he performed alongside Alamo Records signee wifisfuneral at the Hidden Festival, a touring festival that stops in a number of Australian cities.
“Performing is my drug of choice,” the rising star admitted, as he described the excitement of performing in front of 10,000-person crowds in Australia.
Circling back to his Facebook post about “making it out of Brooklyn,” I wondered if that means he has dreams of moving out of New York. But Najjee made it clear that he plans to be in “all places” rather than just one, but his love for New York is special and it will always be home.
“New York is the hustle and bustle,” he said. “If you ain’t here you ain’t nowhere, everywhere else is slow. You can go get what you want right now in New York, that’s why it’s like a mini China.”
Najjee plans to continue working with other artists in his hometown, with music on the way featuring Jay Critch, Kirk Knight, Flipp Dinero, and producers such as A Lau, Judah Hex, Slayron, and Matt Marvin.
We can’t wait to see how this year plays out for Najjee!
Check out the visuals for “All Money In” below.