NAIIM’s distinct fusion of rap, pop, R&B and funk reflects his unique individuality, as it transcends conventional genre boundaries. His music is a reflection of his dynamic personality, and encapsulates all its multifaceted aspects. He disregards the traditional conventions of genre continuity, stating, “The beauty of the music is what matters most, and as long as it evokes positive emotions, I consider my job to be accomplished.”
His single “No Peace” has received widespread recognition, garnering over 150,000 streams, and has been featured on Spotify’s Northern Bars and Shisha Lounge playlists. His more recent single, “Starburst,” has also garnered attention, finding a spot on Spotify’s Fresh Finds and Fresh Finds: Pop playlists. NAIIM’s goal is to continue to let his creative impulses flow freely, without succumbing to external expectations, but rather, staying true to his own vision. He hopes that his music will serve as a source of solace and inspiration for others, just as it has for him.
We sat down with NAIIM earlier this month, and discussed his background, who he is as an artist, and his upcoming single and EP:
Q: Where are you from, and what’s your background?
A: I was born in Montreal, Canada, and then moved with my family to Toronto when I was about seven years old. My father is from northern Somalia, and my mother is French Canadian.
Q: When did you start making music, and how did you get into making music?
A: I think I started at around 13-ish, something like that. I had bought my first rap tape, a Ludicrous tape, called the Red-Light District, which I hid from my parents because there’s no way they would have let you listen to that, right? I was just super fascinated by all of it, especially hip-hop music. And so I started writing little raps instead of doing my homework, and I discovered that I could record these songs on my dad’s computer. So I liked to play a beat in the background and just rap the verses. From then, it slowly escalated just by learning on YouTube how to use GarageBand and then Logic and vocal produce and all that stuff. So, from that day on, it just escalated.
Q: How would you describe yourself as an artist, and what type of music do you work on?
A: I feel like I’m highly versatile. It would be hard to just put my sound in a box because I make so many different sounds. I’m also a songwriter, so I’ll write pop music, electronic music and hip-hop, which is specific for this release and the next couple of drops. But I do a lot of pop and electronic-type stuff as well. As an artist, I think it’s good to know and not seclude yourself in one genre, almost being essential. As human beings, we operate on the spectrum of emotions. So why limit yourself to just one little box when you play in multiple different boxes and expand your sound? So, for instance, I had dropped a record with this band from Los Angeles called “Wake the Wild,” and they’re more on the Funk Anderson type, bordering electronics slightly. And so through things like that, it’s a fun time, and I’m still able to inject myself within all of those mediums and still make it sound like this is a NAIIM record.
Q: Let’s talk about your single, “No Peace.” Were you expecting over 150,00 streams? How did it feel to see your song play on different Spotify playlists like The Spotify Northern Bars and Shisha Lounge playlists?
A: Obviously, it was exhilarating. I wasn’t expecting it whatsoever. And it’s like when you’re first releasing music, even having a thousand streams at first, it’s like, oh, God damn, a thousand people listen to the song. If you think about it, try putting a thousand people into a room, that’s a lot of people. So seeing 150,000 streams on it at first was crazy. I was grateful, and I just thought it was super exciting, and could see myself excelling and getting into the millions of streams and progressing in that sense.
Q: How did it feel from seeing 1000 streams, which is a big deal, to 150,000, and now your most recent single almost hitting a million streams?
A: I mean, I’m super grateful and I don’t know, starting this out, I didn’t think that I’d get a million plays on anything. I was just doing it for the pure sheer joy of it at the end of the day. But then also, you get to a certain point where you’re really involved in your career as an artist, and then you kind of get sometimes lost where you tell yourself it’s only a million streams, I need to get my stuff up way higher. So you get to a specific goal, you’re happy for the moment, and then after that, you’re like, okay, that’s not enough; I need to get this thing even more significant and bigger and bigger. I’m grateful that we’re literally just about to hit a million, but now I’m already on what’s next?
Q: From what I understand, you’re soon to drop your newest single called “Dusty Winds” later this month. Can you give us some background about the song and the music video that’s supposed to be released with it?
A: “Dusty Winds” was recorded about a year and a half ago with my guy Shaz who produced a couple of my records. I drove up to see him, and I was like, bro, we just need to do a whole week where we’re locked in. So through that, the song came about. The song to me, is a statement piece that embodies the feeling of invincibility. It’s almost like a positive affirmation, in a sense. You listen to it, and you get pumped up. It’s really about winning and progressing with the team to state that we’re going to come in and get this shit, and nobody can stop us. Basically, it’s like my re-entrance as an artist to show that I’m here and it’s time to take over type of thing. My hope with it is that people feel with it and feel the exact same way that I felt when I listened to it and just really get pumped up by it. It’s a good song if you need to hit a new PR in the gym, just turn that on, and you might lift 40 pounds heavier.
Q: So the music video drops the same day. Can you disclose a little sneak peek of what we’re expected to see in the music video? And what the inspiration behind the video was?
A: The inspiration behind the music video actually comes from the sample you hear at the start of the song, which gives a Western feel. The second the song was done, and we thought about it, it was a no-brainer to go shoot this in the desert. So we drove about an hour outside of LA and started rolling. There’s no specific storyline to the music video other than just being a cinematic piece that corresponds to the song. I hope that when people view the video, they can see the cinematics behind it well. Overall, I was trying to create a piece of art that really parallels the song. So we thought that doing it in the desert and being very cinematic would be perfect for that song and sound.
Q: The song stems from your upcoming EP. When is that supposed to drop? Are you able to give us some background on what to expect from this EP and its sound?
A: So that’s supposed to drop probably in Q1 of 2023. We don’t have a confirmed date yet, however. I think this EP will be more of a storytelling of everything I’ve gone through in the last five years in terms of going from somebody who just looked at music as a hobby to it now becoming his profession. To me, it goes to say that we’re coming in, and we’re here to stay kind of deal. I would say that’s pretty much the essence of the tape in itself. It’s not inspired by any Western thing; that was just a one-off for “Dusty Winds,” specifically. A lot of the music is very cinematic and tells stories of things that I’ve gone through in the past couple of years. Like losing my father two years ago, as well as the relationships that I’ve had. All things of nature. So overall, it’s a re-entrance and a statement piece that says, I’m here, and not going anywhere.
Q: Do you have anything else that you plan to release after the EP, or has that been your main focus right now?
A: No, I mean, I’ve already got two tapes done, so I know what’s coming out right after this project. In the last two years, I took the time to build the team and create the music. That way, we don’t have to play the catch-up game where it’s like you drop something, and then you wonder, what’s next? There are over 600 songs in the bank right now, and then we’ve got two solid projects already completed. My main focus is just focusing on the music itself. I’m lucky to have the team that I have and make the music that inspires me so that I create the projects, create the words for them, and then I just toss it over, and they do what they got to do. But I’m definitely already working on the next thing and the next thing and the next thing.
Q: What do you hope to put out in the music industry, and what are you looking forward to?
A: Yeah. I mean. Take the world by storm. But obviously, perform in front of larger crowds and have the music playing worldwide. I also hope for people to get a message out of my music and maybe be able to inject their own story into it, within my story, and for them to actually feel what I’ve gone through. I’m sure that many people will be able to relate to some of the stuff because, in the end, they were all humans, and we all go through shit. I mean, it’s very cathartic for me to make music, and I’m hoping it can be cathartic for somebody to take in what I’m putting out and maybe find solace in that.