The global attention on the UK music scene seems to be at an all-time high and British Nigerian rapper and singer Not3s is one of the main attractions.
On first encounter, the name Not3s usually requires a second look, seeing how a number replaces a letter but the 3 represents much more than just a fancy spelling for the Hackney bred rapper. Infact, the 3-part meaning (money notes, music notes, take note of Not3s) perfectly forms the tenets that now guide Lanre’s professional music career (Yup that’s his Nigerian name!).
Signed to Sony partnered Relentless Records, Not3s’ journey has been a short but intensely sweet one. 2016 into 2017, Addison Lee went from a random Soundcloud drop to raking in tens of millions in views and streaming. It’s 2018 now and with a few more singles, tons of features and 1 project in the bag, Not3s is booked way past mid-year for a variety of shows including his own tour which has reportedly sold out.
‘…I just wanted my music to be heard so now that it’s happening, I’m kinda happy with it. It’s a good thing…’
It might be uncommon for very young artistes to reach this level of relevance in such brief timing but we must admit that Not3s started paying his dues early. Not only did he begin churning out music materials from his early teens, his mum has it that the first set of vocabulary that Not3s ever mouthed, were the entire lyrical content of DMX’s millennium smash- Party Up. Now, that’s one epic career head start if you ask me.
As I listened to music on hold while waiting for Not3s to reach the phone, I thought of how much present day music had evolved, feeding heavily off the sound patterns from the late 90s and the early-noughties . DMX’s ‘Party Up’ for instance was a millennium rave and it is no coincidence that the formative years of Not3s and his new school peers happened around that same era. It’s been 2 decades down that line and global music has taken another innovative and experimental turn. All the genres that used to be somewhat clear-cut are now synthesized daily to form various colours of music that hold even deeper enjoyable essence.
Afrobeats, Grime, R&B, dancehall and Hiphop are the major elements that lay the foundations of Not3s’ style and it is this fusion that a large part of the world is crazy about right now.
Younger audiences cannot get enough of the lazy urban demeanor that make the songs “wavy” while the older ones simply glean off as much nostalgia as they possibly can. A classic example of this would be the 7th track off the Take Not3s EP titled ‘Notice’. Although it is a completely fresh vibe, it is decorated with shavings of 50 cent’s ’21 questions’, causing it to feel soothingly familiar to those of us who binged on Fifty’s ‘Get Rich or Die Trying’ album.
‘…All the music that we are here creating is becoming songs that are hitting UK charts and American charts so why not classify it as what Katie Perry and Taylor Swift and all of these people want to put their music as?’
In terms of lyrics and general music structure, Not3s has many times proven his ability to be super fluid, fitting into any flow that the music requires of him. Like he rightly mentions in the intro of Take Not3s, he can “take a rapper’s place and a singer’s too”.
There’s also great beauty in the manner with which he sings his reality. On the same intro track, Not3s rapped his intentions of getting his mum a new car to partly make up for the stress his past lifestyle may have brought and just last week, he lived up to his music.
B-Young’s ‘Jumanji’ and Tinashe’s ‘No drama’ had just finished playing on the line when I heard the rich baritone voice of my interview guest from the other end. Although I knew answers to about half of the questions I had for him, hearing it from the horse’s mouth threw in more perspective. I could almost “hear” him roll his eyes from the phone when I brought up Addison Lee but there was no way I was leaving out the song that fully delivered him onto the global radar. We also spoke of his most recent groove -Sit Back-Down which features fellow British Nigerian Maleek Berry, the songs that have made the biggest mark yet in his career, his influences and a slew of other matters.
P.S: The process of this interview opened me to a lot of new music, one of which is Pushing Up by a UK Afrobeats/Hiphop collective named NSG. Not3s is featured as the hook bearer on the track and with the job he did, I must agree with GRM daily’s comment on his Sit Back Down video: Not3s makes the waviest hooks!
Vibe: There’s a lot of buzz around Afrobeats and Grime like never before. How do you feel about this, did you think it was going to happen at some point?
Not3s: Being an artiste and making music as much as I was making music before, I was always hoping that it would turn into something bigger. I didn’t think it would happen so soon I would say, but I just wanted my music to be heard so now that it’s happening, I’m kinda happy with it. it’s a good thing.
Whose music would you say formed your current style? I used to listen to quite a lot of music. I used to listen to 50cent, Lil Wayne, Nate Dogg, then I used to listen to people like Dagrin, Dbanj, Don Jazzy, there’s a lot of people. Ginuwine, Joe, Usher, a lot of people… different kinds of music…. Even Nigerian Gospel music… 24/7.
Addison Lee is definitely one of the big ones in your catalogue. I am aware it’s a London Taxi service. What were you trying to say?
Peng thing is a London slang which means good looking. I was just trying to say that Peng Thing called Madisson, Jump in the cab that I have ordered for you. (whatever girl I am referring to… Her name doesn’t have to be Madisson)
Was that like some sort of advertisement or was it just vibes?
No, Literally, it just happened. It wasn’t for any advertisement purposes or anything. It was just a song I decided to make and it worked.
Which of your songs have been your most memorable so far?
So there’s “Sit Back Down” with Maleek Berry. Do you feel super pumped about the release of the video?
Yeah I feel good. I feel, in the vibe…
How long have you known Maleek Berry for?
Around April is when we started talking and we liked each other’s music so we decided to just hook up and see what happens. Sit Back down is the first thing we created but hopefully not the last.
‘So if I asked you to tell me the genre of your music without using the words Afrobeats/grime, how would you describe your music to me?’
Popular music, Hip hop. That’s exactly what my music is because at the end of the day, all the music that we are here creating is becoming songs that are hitting UK charts and American charts so why not classify it as what Katie Perry and Taylor Swift and all of these people want to put their music as? It is being put in the same category anyways in terms of charts.
Your birthday is in April yeah? That’s barely a month away. How do you feel about that?
Yeah, April 17th. I feel good because I’m doing a tour this April in the UK again ’cause I’ve had one UK tour before so this is my second one and my birthday is along that date so I feel good about it..Very good about it. You know, hopefully it will be a very special day at Koko Camden in London so yeah, It should be good.
Lovely. So what’s your wish for a birthday gift just in case someone reads this and wants to get it for you?
Lol! My Wish for a birthday gift…. I don’t even even know. For me, it feels like I’ve gone past the stage of people even getting me presents. I can’t remember the last time somebody got me a present.
Yeah. Even Christmas, I think I received a belt which as good but that was probably it. But I hope I get something that’s priceless and could probably be very meaningful to me. So if somebody was to like find something out about and goes and puts it as a present, that’d be sick but I honestly couldn’t tell you off the top of my head what I’d want as a present.
What should the remaing quarters of 2018 expect from Not3s?
Just more fire. I’m producing an E.P called Take Not3s 2, so it’s the sequel of Take Not3s 1. Yeah.. More music, more features and big things by God’s grace.
Anything you want to let the followers of your music know?
Massive shoutout to every single person that supports me and bigs up my music and promotes it in any way possible Whether snapchat, Instagram or even telling their friends. Thank you very much, God bless you all and more music to come. Stay supporting.
Connect with Not3s on his socials!