When you think of a rapper from Canada, your mind will most likely instantly go to the most influential and famous artists in the game – Drake. Since he started rapping in 2006, Drake has been the face of Canada as far as music is concerned. That might very well change in the coming years with a new face becoming more and more popular.
NAV, a 27-year-old rapper and producer from Rexdale, Metropolitan Toronto, Canada, is making a name for himself. He lets his music do the talking and that is what has been the difference between this young Canadian and all the other up-and-coming artists of today.
Nobody really knows exactly when or how NAV started out rapping; it all remains to be a mystery. One clue that could be used is his SoundCloud, where his music was first put out to the public. The problem is some of his songs have been taken down and deleted, but still some of them remain. Even then, NAV still hadn’t made an impact with his music.
It wasn’t until 2015 that NAV finally made his first noteworthy production credit with none other than Drake himself. NAV helped co-produce “Back To Back” Drake’s second diss track aimed towards Meek Mill.
A year later, he was featured on Travis Scott’s “biebs in the trap” which was the highlight song of Scott’s second album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.
It wasn’t until last February that NAV finally made his mark on the culture. He dropped “Some Way” which was ultimately his biggest solo yet. It featured his XO label boss The Weeknd on the intro and hooks. The song was released days before he let us have his debut mixtape NAV. The album was produced mostly by NAV himself, but also had some co-production, one of which was Metro Boomin who would join together with NAV in the summer.
With this first project, NAV put his name out there for good. Throughout any of the 11 tracks on the album, you can easily hear his gift for lyrical meaning and rhymes.“Good For It” can be debated as one of his best songs of all time. This is really the only song he chooses to deliver a hard flow. He really puts his whole image into that one track. Although any one of them has plenty of mind-blowing bars. “Lonely”, “Myself”, “Sleep”, and “Up” were also popular hits off of the album.
NAV was described as many things after the tape was made available. His unique style separates him from many other rappers. His tracks often include a repeating hook which can be heard two, three or even four times followed by usually two, sometimes three, verses. The hooks are catchy and not complex, which is just the opposite of the verses. His clever rhyming skills mixed with references to his past, present, and future makes his sound come together like a bow on top of a present. NAV sticks to expressing himself through his own life, and doesn’t stray from what is happening with himself rather than with other people, or a general message like most other rappers.
In July, Metro Boomin and NAV gave us the highly anticipated debut collaboration album Perfect Timing.
Before the release, two songs were teased ahead of time to give a small taste of what all the album would be like. “Perfect Timing (Intro)” and “Call Me” were made available, and received a great deal of hype over social media. With all the attention NAV was getting, he did nothing but impress with his second project. Seven features were included on six of the 15 songs. NAV teamed up with some of the top artists on the charts with Gucci Mane, 21 Savage, Offset, Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert.
Belly was also featured, and this was the second time we have heard these two together. Back in 2016, NAV was included on “Re Up” which was part of Belly’s album Inzombia.
The stickiest beats were in every song on this project, which just gave more of a reason for NAV to do what he did. “Hit” and “I Am” were two of the nine solo tracks. Both of these gave us the familiar NAV sound we had heard in his previous album with the song “Good For It”.
As far as familiar goes, other solo songs on the album such as “Bring It Back”, “Rich” and “I Don’t Care” can be compared to most of his other songs, which all feature his rapping voice in a more vocal than aggressive way.
But one of the things that stood out the most from this project is that no matter what song you might listen to, they all relate back to NAV’s life. Even with his features, he only raps about what he does, what he has, and what he has been through.
“Did You See NAV” could be described as the most controversial song on the project. In this track, NAV goes in third person with his rapping. Throughout the three minutes and 37 seconds, he raps about how everyone views him as a rapper. This is something that really nobody has done like he has. Instead of just a couple lines about haters or enemies, NAV goes in depth and expresses how his image is in the media and how the public treats him as a rapper.
That wasn’t the only surprise NAV threw at us. “Held Me Down” was another look at NAV we had never seen. Instead of his usual hard-hitting raps about how women don’t mean anything to him, he comes at us with a love story. In this track, he describes a lover he used to have, and how him turning famous made him forget about her. This song is something to use for future songs, as he might not be finished reaching someone through his music.
With all of these songs, NAV shows us his gift for music is better than most of the rappers we think of as being the best. His lyrics mean more than you hear, and he proved he can flow with someone else in a collab. With all of those features, you can almost expect to see him pop up in the near future.
The question is, “What happens next?”. The young artist has made his mark on the world of hip-hop, and if you haven’t heard of him then that might be something you want to switch around. He’s only published two official projects, and hasn’t even reached the age of 30. It’s clear that he intends to pursue his rapping career, but his production is also something that goes under the radar. The fact that he writes, produces, and raps all by himself is remarkable in this day and age. His skills may be used by some of the other rappers looking to add something to their sound.
His most recent work was featured on “What Do You Do” on Ferg’s album Still Striving which was released last month. With that song, it goes to show all types of rappers would be willing to work with him. Remember his name, you’ll be hearing it frequently real soon.