Nick Grant has a way with words. Or, perhaps it’s more fitting, considering his occupation, to label him a gifted lyricist. By any measure, the Culture Republic/Epic recording artist is among the most potent rappers alive right now currently spitting 16’s.
NG is a metaphoric representation of MC.
And while that’s been evident since his arrival with 2016’s 88 mixtape and his critically-acclaimed debut project, Return of the Cool, the South Carolina native looks to build on his reputation for craft and much more with his sophomore collection, Dreamin’ Out Loud.
“I grew to learn life is about experiences,” Grant says about his new collection. “Everything that I created I was inspired by something, from going on tour with Nas, to having conversations with different people that I love or respect. Things that I experienced opened the door to create when inspired or led me through something to talk about it.”
As a young man raised by all women, including a grandmother, aunt and sister, Grant’s “Black Woman” record is a personal testimony to the triumph of family over circumstances. The powerful message chronicles his relationship with his mother, who was in and out of his life as she battled drug addiction. “Forever a queen, pure black and ever so clean,” Grant begins in his first verse before widening his lens for a larger look at the thankless tasks African-American women often bear with grace. “You like the closest thing to God still we call you b***.”
“To not make that record would have been an injustice,” he says. “I wouldn’t be telling my truth. Those are the things, for me, that shows me growing as an artist.”
From the sunny “Gentlemen’s Paradise” to the swaggering ‘96 Bulls, Grant’s evolution is at the forefront throughout. “You lost your noodle thinking I’m not really drippin’ sauce,” he spits on the latter. Working with a bevy of upstart producers plus stalwarts such as Dominic Gordon (Luke James), J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League (Rick Ross) and Hit-Boy (Drake), Grant aims to craft a sonic experience with Dreamin’ Out Loud that can pierce today’s ears and still resonate with tomorrow’s listeners.
“When you have a Biggie or André 3000, that’s when you can listen to something from 20 years ago and you just get it,” he says. “I want to be an artist like that. Able to give you that timeless, classic feeling.”
“The Switch Up” featuring Yo Gotti (“Small town n*** but I’m worldwide/ Man I blew the check like I’m verified), and “Nicky Bomaye” (“Trying to throw Lox on my Styles, still I keep it so Sheek”) are just a few of the contenders capable of going the distance.
“I’m rapping with a chip on my shoulder,” Grant explains. “This go round I’m in a place where I don’t want people to forget who I am. I want to compete.”
He also wants to compel.
Dreamin’ Out Loud centerpiece “Father Figure” features a posthumous conversation Grant has with his father, taking on both personas—pop and progeny—with the slow burning “The Funeral” as an addendum.
“It was a conversation I wanted to have with him but ego wouldn’t allow me to have it,” Grant shares. “We had a rocky relationship but also, in a sense, he was someone that I wanted to be. This is your father, someone that you look up and have an undying love for.
“I came from nothing and I made something out of it,” he continues. “I want to show anyone that’s listening that anything is possible. I’m just an everyday person with a talent that God gave me. “And I’ll continue to use it as long as people want to hear it.”
From Dreamin’ to reality.