Nadia Rose is becoming one of the UK’s most interesting and infectiously charismatic hip-hop exports. The emcee’s first single “Skwod” boasts over seven million views on Youtube, thanks to her animated, machine gun flows and quirky cadence. Through appearances on Radio Shows like BBC Radio 1 and DJ Semtex, Nadia proved she was just as sharp live.
The 25-year-old’s music contains elements of the Grime sound the U.K has become famous for, but Nadia’s high-octane energy is more reminiscent of hip-hop legends like Missy Elliot and Eve. In the past two years alone, she’s released her debut record Highly Flammable, performed at festivals like Wireless, signed to Relentless Records and even beefed with Azealia Banks.
In anticipation of her appearances at this year’s Melbourne Music Week, we got on the phone with Nadia to talk about her initial interest in hip-hop, the importance of touring and women in rap music today.
Henry Owens: Hi Nadia, we’re excited to have you coming back to Australia.I’ve seen you say that you got into music from your father playing it around the house, but what made you gravitate to hip-hop?
Nadia Rose: There was this confidence in rap music, an arrogance almost, that I could relate to. It was something that I understood. I found it really relatable.
You went to a music school during your teens. How was it rapping in a somewhat formal environment?
It was cool actually! I wasn’t the only one doing it. I few of my peers did it, mostly boys actually, but it wasn’t like I was the only one doing it. It was nice, we’d have little rap battles and cyphers and stuff.
Grime and UK hip-hop have exploded online over the past few years, but their origins are real-world experiences: raves, pirate radios and youth clubs. Did these play a part in your life, growing up in Croydon?
Yeah, definitely. Because Croydon is on the outskirts of London, we were disconnected from a lot of the culture that was going on [in the inner city]. Everybody here kind of came together and built our own kind of Croydon force, like “Yeah we’re here, we’re ready to break through.” I think it was this collective energy that helped us grow together.
Your music is fun, and deliberately upbeat, but also very accomplished when it comes to lyricism. I’d say that’s a part of hip-hop that isn’t as prioritised as much as it used to be. How does that make you feel as a songwriter?
It’s quite frustrating, to be honest. I speak to a lot of people who I consider lyricists, and the general consensus is that we’re kind of hard done by at the moment. But there is a lot of elements that make up a good song, so it shouldn’t always be the main focus. However, I feel like this time will pass. What is real and true will always prevail.
On the flipside of that lyricism, where does that upbeat vibe come from?
Naturally I’m just an upbeat person. I am the life of the party; centre stage you know. I think my go-to sound is the upbeat style with lots of energy, simply because I want people to feel good!
I think a big part of your success has been the reputation of your live shows. You really deliver. Do you think touring is still important for early career artists?
I love touring. I love being on stage, it’s my second home. When I step on the stage I’m in my element. I think it’s important because it solidifies an artist. I used to love music videos and stuff from artists I love, but seeing them in the flesh is a whole different experience. I kind of just want to give that experience to people. These are things I’ve written and created and I want to show that.
Lastly, confidence seems to be a huge part in your rise, but confidence can be a hard thing to grasp. How did you obtain it in the first place?
I believe that practice makes perfect. I’m just doing what I do for a living. The more I do it, the more confident I get. Even when people around me get more confident in our movement, I feel a boost. It’s a combination of the squad and being the best at my craft.
Nadia Rose will be closing out Melbourne Music Week on the 24th of November. For more info, head here.