“I’m Able To Express Every Piece Of My World” – An MM Exclusive With GRAMMY Winning Producer Nascent

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

3 May 2024

Mexican-American producer Nascent is coming into a world of his own. Raised in Chicago before relocating to Los Angeles, he has managed to work with some of the biggest names across Hip-Hop and R&B, from the likes of SZA and Brent Faiyaz to 50 Cent and Kanye West, the latter of whom he won a GRAMMY for his work on ‘Hurricane’. He has also carved out his own sonic niche in his solo work, producing two albums that feel deeply personal and inimitable thanks to his innate song making ability.

In the week that his latest album, ‘Don’t Grow Up Too Soon’ was released, I sat down with Nascent to discuss his journey so far, his motivations as an artist, and the changing role of the producer in recent years: 

Talk to me about growing up in Chicago. How do you think it has shaped you musically?

Growing up in Chicago, it definitely shaped me to be very soulful, and then also on the other side, very kind of aggressive. It’s just the type of environment that brings out a lot of rage. It brings out the best of both worlds. I grew up listening to a lot of Dr Dre and Nas – those were the first two albums I listened to in like sixth grade. That was when I was really first diving into Hip-Hop. But definitely I think my earliest influences were Dre and Kanye West.

And how did your own musical journey start?

I played basketball my whole life and that was something I really wanted to do. I would say I was around 13 when I first thought that I wanted to DJ and I wanted to rap. It was around then that I realised it cost money to DJ, because I wanted to buy a turntable but that’s expensive, bro! So I couldn’t do that, but once I realised what a producer does – like making beats and how all of that works – I just dove into it and that was it.

Then you kind of got your break working with 50 Cent…

Yeah, I was 18 going on 19 when that opportunity happened. I was supposed to go to New York to work with somebody else at the time, and when I got there it didn’t work out. It was one of those trips where I’m already in New York and I’m trying to think on my feet because I didn’t want to waste the trip. I spent all the money that I had saved up to go there! 

I ended up watching an interview with the G-Unit staff and I just decided to walk over there and pull up on them. When I got there I started talking to their intern and I gave him a CD of my beats and we went from there. You just can’t explain how these things even happen or why they happen. You’re put in that position and it was already there for you almost. Everything that happened after that just showed me and proved to me that this is where I was supposed to be already. After that first meeting, I ended up on his album and his mixtapes, and the relationship started from there. So it was a little bit weird to kind of start my journey backwards in a way. 

Do you feel like that relationship started to open doors for you?

A thousand percent. It opened the door for me in New York a lot and also back home when the songs started to come out. This is like 2009 so we were at the back end of the hard, street, aggressive Rap before going into the 2010’s where that wasn’t as popping anymore. I caught it right at the end and it opened up a lot of doors for me in Chicago with a lot of artists out there. I was still giving out a lot of beats for free in Chicago even after 50 Cent because like I said, I had to kind of work backwards. I was just trying to put my name on in the city but I ended up working with a lot of good dudes in Chicago.

Around this time was when the Drill era started in Chicago. Were you involved in that in any capacity?

I was walking with this group called LEP Bogus Boys who were like the biggest thing in Chicago right before Drill happened. As Drill started taking off it was crazy and a lot of producers that I knew started changing their style a lot because it was the next big thing. For me, I fuck with Drill but it wasn’t authentic to me to make. I started to study music more and was experimenting with Jazzy beats and stuff, trying to go a different route. I was working with Chance (The Rapper), Saba, Mick Jenkins. It shifted my sound a little bit. I was integrating trap drums over soulful loops. I just tried to grow and elevate from the hard, aggressive street shit that I was making earlier. Then I came to LA and my sound shifted again. 

What made you move to LA?

I was already planning on moving but I was literally broke and you need some money before you go out because it’s a big move. One of my friends was actually working with Bibi Bourelly and he thought we would work well together so he invited me to crash on his couch. At the time I didn’t know if that’s what I wanted to do but in the end I thought what’s the worst that could happen? Two weeks later I left and never went back. 

You sacrifice a lot because it’s not easy and it’s definitely not for everybody. You have to want it that bad in order to be able to survive in this shit. If not, it’s going to be over for you quick. I never felt once that I wanted to quit, even when I was sleeping in my car, sleeping on people’s couches. That shit was years, bro. I just thought that this was my journey and I was going to figure it out. 

Throughout your career you’ve worked with a lot of amazing artists. Is there anyone in particular who has blown you away with their talent?

I think Bibi (Bourelly). At that time I was coming from Chicago which kind of had a lower ceiling in terms of opportunities. When I got to LA, I realised that there are a lot of people who aren’t from here who are trying to do similar things and want it just as bad as you do. They’re probably more talented than you are as well. That’s why I needed to come here because it would force me to get better. Bibi could write a song on the spot in five minutes, and it would be good. That’s when I thought that this is really another level. Being in the studio with a lot of people I looked up to was crazy as well. Dr Dre, DJ Khalil – these guys have been doing this for more than thirty years so it was cool to see first hand how good they are at what they do.

Coming from Chicago and working with Ye, and winning a GRAMMY for ‘Hurricane’ that must have been a crazy feeling?

A lot of times in my career, bro, I just stumble upon opportunities. At the time I was working with Chance when he and Kanye were going to do an album together called ‘Good Ass Job’. After that Kanye took over and decided he wanted to do his own album called ‘Yandhi’. I was working on something with Boogz (dabeast) who is one of Kanye’s main producers and almost his right hand man. We worked on a beat called ‘80 Degrees’, but ultimately what came out was a stripped down version that was derivative of our beat with The Weeknd on it.

What I will say about Kanye is that you will get a credit and they’re going to make sure you get paid, because I think he understood how hard it was for a producer to fight for all that. I forgot about that song to be honest with you, bro, because it was back in 2018. I was so surprised when it came out because I thought it would be one of those songs where it stays in the vault. It was crazy though seeing him in the studio rapping over my beats because he’s one of my biggest influences, for real.

Your new record, ‘Don’t Grow Up Too Soon’, has just dropped. What’s the meaning behind that title?

It’s a conceptual album and it’s about healing your inner child. That’s a journey I’ve been going on for about the last two years I would say. It was something I really wanted to make that’s a piece of me and that’s authentic. I like to tell stories and I like to create these worlds. Having said that, you want to get your concept off in a way that isn’t corny. You want to get your point across but the music still has to be enjoyable. Sonically, I nailed it and I’m really excited about it. There’s levels to this shit, bro.

What’s the difference for you between producing your own work and producing for others?

I feel like I have more control. This is my world so I’m able to express every piece of my world. I do like producing for other artists a lot, especially new artists. That’s kind of always been my thing. My career has worked around producing for artists before they take off. I just go with the flow and don’t really play the placement game. I don’t chase bigger artists because it’s not organic. I’d rather work with someone that I believe in early and build up with them.

Obviously as you’re a producer there’s going to be a lot of featured artists on the project. How do you manage to keep the album so cohesive?

It’s all feeling, bro. There’s a point in the process of making an album where you don’t know what you’re doing. I start to look at playlists of my music and just start the process of making music. From there I see what fits and then it’s like a puzzle. If you build the border of a puzzle you know exactly what it’s missing. I try not to get too caught up in making it perfect. If you keep fine tuning and tweaking the sound sometimes the music will never see the light of day, so at some point you just have to let go.

The album has come out three years on from your last project, ‘Minus The Bullshit Life’s Good’. What’s changed for you across those three years?

A lot personally and career wise. I won a GRAMMY with Kanye after that, and SZA. It was cool to step into the artist/producer space and see it resonate with people. A lot of the artists I worked with back then have blown up even in that time period. It definitely gave me a new perspective to see that I can actually do this my way now. I’m 100%, fully invested in myself and in this world with what I’m doing.

What do you think of the role of the producer in modern music? Obviously you have people like Metro Boomin and yourself almost stepping into the spotlight…

I think the difference is that the producers who have good taste can make amazing albums. Kaytranada is someone else who I have a lot of respect for. I think there’s a reason that people gravitate towards these albums because although there’s different collaborators working on the project, there’s one person who is guiding the ship, and you can hear it. When there’s too many cooks in the kitchen, you can hear that too. You just need one cook and maybe a sous chef and then you get an amazing meal. I think it’s cool, man. The producer is such an important role and sometimes they can be a little underappreciated. Especially when it comes to the business side too, because sometimes we’ll be the last ones to get paid.

Does this album feel like a new chapter for you?

1000% yes. If I’m being honest, I was maybe a little bit more insecure and lacking in confidence when I started this creative process. This is the first time I just had to go with it myself without anyone else really around me. Once I started getting momentum, I knew that I was on the right path. Everything we’ve done has been something that has come out of my brain from the merch, the artwork, the concept, the rollout. It’s definitely given me a little confidence.

What keeps you motivated?

I’m super competitive, man. I think the work needs to speak for itself and I just want to do better than the last thing I did. There’s always something you can work on and there’s always some area you can improve. I genuinely love doing this, and I need to do this because it’s a form of expression within itself. 

To me, it is art. If it was purely for the money, I wouldn’t do music, because this is the jankiest business of all businesses. Both of us here, we’re doing this because we love this shit, and we wouldn’t want to do anything else because we love it. When you enter with that energy and that intent, things open up for you and it becomes enjoyable. When all is said and done, I know where I want to be, and that keeps me motivated.

And finally, where do you see yourself in the next few years?

I’m going to keep pushing this project because I think it’s really important for artists to keep promoting their work even after the rollout. I already have a few projects done with other artists so we’ll see if they come out. I’ve also got the concept ready for my third album. That’s the next thing, probably in 2026. It’s all part of the trilogy and the kind of world I’ve created.

Thanks for your time.

Thank you bro, I appreciate it ■

Nascent’s second album, ‘Don’t Grow Up Too Soon’ Is available now across all platforms.