Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter and producer NAV’s wavy sing-rap flow and mesmerising trap beats have seen him amass a collection of chart-topping hits in a relatively short time period. Hailing from humble beginnings, the Toronto native’s high-profile connections have helped propel his career forward, and he’s now sitting on a pile of successful projects through collaborating with many of the industry’s top names.
2020 was an equally massive year for Nav, topping the Billboard 200 with his third studio album, the feature-heavy Good Intentions, and closing out the year by teaming up with Wheezy on the Emergency Tsunami mixtape. It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least; Headliner recently checked in to see how he’s enjoying the ride…
Born Navraj Goraya in Toronto, the now 31-year old Nav had his first taste of fame when reality TV star Kylie Jenner posted a Snapchat video of herself singing along to his song Myself, yet this was by no means the catalyst for the superstar rep that he’s since secured. Having steadily built a large following through a string of SoundCloud releases, beginning in 2015 with Take Me Simple, he had long been ready for the big time.
Fast forward to 2021, and Nav has established himself as one of the most sought-after producers and artists in the trap game. Everyone needs a little time off now and again though, and he joins Headliner for a chat just before taking a well-earned trip to Turks and Caicos.
“When it comes to the lockdown these days, my manager [and co-founder of record label XO] Cash built a studio in his guest house, so I can go over there whenever I want to get some stuff done and just play basketball in the backyard,” he begins. “Things are slower, and it’s given me time to think about a whole bunch of things that I didn’t before.”
Nav is clearly appreciating the downtime that, like many others, he has suddenly been thrust into, although it’s a far cry from the hectic start he had as a recording engineer and producer.
Growing up listening to the likes of Nas, 50 Cent and The Diplomats, Nav spent most of his high school days experimenting with production and making beats for friends, and soon turned his hand to engineering in order to make a quick buck.
“There’s not that many studios in Toronto and you’ve got to start at the bottom - it really was all about beats for me at the start,” he shares. “My uncle was a singer in India and he had a little studio where I used to go watch him record. Indian music is made very professionally; if there’s even a little scratch in their voice they’ll redo the whole thing, so that was how I learned to cut tapes together.
“So when it came to me making beats for local artists in Toronto, I’d try to be super flexible and responsive, and I knew how to add FX to make shit sound good, so everyone all of a sudden wanted to record with me. I was making $300 or $400 a week off of that which was amazing for me at the time, so I just kept it moving.”