NTHN is on a wave that might not subside. This is a new era of rap he is helping to usher in. The sub-genre of cloud rap has become especially strong now, and this artist is among the spearheads. There is a palpable excitement in the way he approaches his music. Signs is his latest release, follow along for an interview piece with this fantastic composer.
The muted acoustic is what opens this track, the rhythm inscribed within the strums. The beat soon follows, while NTHN has his signature entrance-sharp lyrics and powerful imagery. He has the power of conjuring up an image with the dextrous hands of a painter. There are several reasons why he is able to do this with a strong sense of flow that he owns.
1) With Drowning, you’ve cemented a legacy for yourself. Did you expect the track to be a part of so many people’s design?
I can’t believe the way that track has taken off! I had a good feeling about it when I released it, especially with the feature from my close friend Teorstan who tied it all together at the end, but I didn’t expect it to gain so much attention! A lot of that is about finding the right community of fans and artists; my ‘following’ on social media isn’t huge, but I’m close friends with almost everyone on there, and I’m really appreciative of the support network I have.
Also, huge shoutout to IDLEGLANCE – the AMV for the track and the support I’ve had from that whole community really is the reason it’s reached so many people. They have such a solid mix of well-curated tracks and loyal listeners, it’s amazing to be welcomed into that and feel such genuine love for the music I make.
To balance through trial
It is a relatively short track, so NTHN makes sure every moment counts. The synth flows leading the chorus, no compromise in how the track is perceived, though many artists aim only to make the bars count. Here, each effect has incredible detail in it, showing the tenacity the track needs to be compositionally sound.
2) You’re at the forefront of Cloud Rap. In what ways has that changed the way you approach these stories?
That’s crazy to hear. I mean, I still make tracks off the same laptop that I used before I even recorded vocals and in a way, I feel like not a lot has changed. I’m definitely reaching a wider audience now, and I’m so grateful for that, but I think the approach is pretty much the same.
Furthermore, I will say though, when I was trying to get myself out there, I think I backed off from the really experimental production style that I used to have, so maybe now it’s time to bring some of that back and get a little more daring with the production again.
Detailing a listening experience
It is a solid impact that tech has in NTHN and his compositions. Instead of depending on it like a crutch, he makes it to be a Swiss knife that he has found all the right utilities for. Approaching a new phase in making music, he makes sure that he is wary what impact it has in the quality of music he makes and take some risks and new directions with the sound that is associated with him.
3) The verses you write work very well in tandem with the instrumentals. Are there moments where instrumentals take a back seat when you have a powerful verse to perform?
Thanks so much! I think that’s because everything I do is self-produced, so I have that extra level of control. I write the verses and instrumentals at the same time, tweaking each one to fit the other, so it’s great to hear you think it’s working! There are definitely moments where the instrumentals have to take a back seat though, yeah – I never used to do that, then I realized all the standout moments in my favourite tracks were the dropouts, acapellas or stripped back sections, that give real impact to the rest of the track. I was like, “why am I not doing that in my own music?”, haha!
To work with other atists and composers is every musicians dream. Art transcends art and the same goes with life. These intersections produce very interesting and unexpected results, as it is seen in the case of NTHN with Teorstan and Fletcher.
The tales of cloud rap
4) What’s the story on the next album after Delta? Any collabs you are excited to feature?
I’m always working with different artists, I think it’s really important to get that feedback and often step outside of your comfort zone when you feature on someone else’s track.Kerem Goral is great for that, he always pushes me to work on different styles and try new things – he’s got a project coming out for Halloween that I’m part of, which I’m super excited for!
Other than that, I’ve got tracks I’m working on with Teorstan and Fletcher, James, with our collective eighteenSAINT, and a few singles coming out that I really want to get other friends involved with.
An intangible sphere
5) This is a relatively new sub-genre, what are the possibilities you see with it which others might not, especially because you delved into it so early?
I don’t know, I feel like Cloud Rap has been around for a while, with all the early Clams Casino produced A$AP Rocky and Lil B tracks, then Yung Lean really pushed the sadboys movement and Lil Peep did so much for Emo Rap… I guess I’m somewhere between all of that, with a little Alt R&B influence, so who knows where it might go next!
That’s where the ‘cloudsampling’ name came from, it just feels like the best way to describe my own genre and method of making music. As for the future, I’m just going to keep making the music I love and hopefully connecting with listeners, and see where it takes me… I’m really excited to get more experimental again, maybe I’ll be able to define my own genre on a bigger scale.
It has been in this large virtual boat that NTHN travels, learning from new places and faces. He’s had an active 2022, with now 9 singles under his belt. That’s an album to me, and we’ll hopefully see the release some time soon. This is the new wave of hip-hop, and it rises above us all. Listen to his new single here: