We’ve seen Nadia Nakai’s brand evolve over the years after she signed to the Family tree record label, but with there being many that might question her strides in the entertainment industry, we sat down with the Naa Mean hitmaker to speak on her journey in the limelight.
While in pursuit of qualifying herself in Marketing and Communications studies in media at the University of Johannesburg, Nadia Nakai started making music and got involved in a lot of creative work in varsity, leading her to get her first break into the music industry on one of YFM’s popular hip-hop shows.
The rapper has put in a great amount of work into her craft, incorporating her African heritage into her brand. Contrary to popular belief, the rapper has been one of the leading ladies in hip-hop prior to other South African female artists emerging and is not a duplicate of some of the American female rappers.
“People be like, Nadia has a bunch of coloured weaves because she’s tryna be like Nicki Minaj, and if I’m too opinionated, I’m tryna be like Cardi B, but there’s a lot of people that have known me for the longest time, I had coloured hair before Babes Wodumo came out, I was always popping off long before Cardi B was popping, so my thing is that people will always have an opinion to break down women, ‘this is not your identity, you stole it from someone,’ she said.
There have been endless comparisons made about Nadia Nakai and other female artists, however, the rapper says that she has no problem with competition and wants to not only be compared to females in the hip-hop industry but to be compared to her hip-hop male counterparts as well.
“I’m never gonna be upset about that because you can never be number one if you’re not running the race with other people. I’m ok when people say Boity dropped a song and they want to compare me and her, I really don’t mind, that doesn’t make me angry because Boity has never done anything to me, every time I see her it’s always been cool, it’s been cordial, we went to the same varsity as well, and I’ve known her for a while.
I feel like women coming together, it helps, but I honestly feel like it shouldn’t be about that, you want to be put up against the other male counterparts, not because we are girls coming together kumbaya-ing. I want to be able to fill up the dome by my damn self, not because we all kumbaya and they put all of us together. That’s an accomplishment I want for my own career as an individual, not because I’m a woman, but because I’m a musician..."
Even though she gets a lot of praise from her fans, she has also had her fair share of public scrutiny. After an image of her without make-up went viral on social media, the bare-faced picture resulted in her getting trolled by fans, but she says she feels she was lucky to have Bonang Matheba – who has been a leading female media personality for years – to advice her on the entertainment industry and be there for her emotionally.
“I love Bonang on a personal level, Bonang, let's not even talk about her brand, she’s inspiring as a woman...our relationship has really grown this past year, where we actually speak to each other. The makeup challenge thing that I went through recently, was probably the worst social media attack I’ve ever had in my whole career where I felt like I can’t believe that people are being so mean over something that’s who I am. She was really supportive, she was invested to check if I’m ok, and she didn’t have to do that and I appreciated because I needed it,”
Being signed to an all-male record label has undoubtedly played a part in helping Nadia Nakai grow a tough skin but the rapper admits that there are times where she needs a woman in the industry with as much experience to guide her and be by her side: “I have a team of guys, like Cass’ [Cassper Nyovest] supports me, but sometimes you need support from a woman, I need a woman’s perspective and someone to talk to me, someone who’s been through stuff like that and has been in the game for a long time and that’s definitely Bonang for me. She gave me advice on being true to yourself, not allowing people’s opinions to derail your dreams, she’s so powerful that she can’t help but exude power onto other women as well...”
With there having been a record of a lot of artists in the entertainment industry dying broke, Nadia says that she has actively guarded her finances and her colleagues' finances to make sure that they live a better life, just as Cassper Nyovest has cautioned her about it while advising her as her boss.
“I’m literally getting my life in order, the person that manages me, we started together, she’s literally gotten me to sit down and get my policies in order, my life cover, hospital plan and all those stuff and then I got my accountant to make sure that I’m tax compliant. I’ve gotten everything sorted out so that I can think about my future and also not just my future but the people that work for me also."
We’ve always known Nadia to be a rapper with ‘a four-door Audi’, but with all the gigs the rapper has been bagging, she recently added a drop top convertible to her collection and is adamant that she is now taking steps towards purchasing a new home.
“I got a new car, I was scared to tell Cassper about it because Cass is always like: ‘You got a new whip? Have you bought a house yet? Investment in property? I understand that you enjoy the car, but do you understand that you’re gonna be making a lot of money, you only gonna get to the top, you need to make sure that you’re comfortable and secure, property is the way to go...enjoy it, you’re making money but make sure that...property is the next thing we’re getting,' he tells me."
Speaking of her latest single ‘Yass Bitch’ that has had a lot of tweeps’ tongues wagging ever since it was released, Nadia highlighted that the cover art and the message behind the song is to empower women to live up to their own expectations and secure their money bags.
“The song is literally to empower women, I want them to feel like, whenever they feel like they running sh*t and getting their shmoney. Whether in corporate or you’re a hostess at Sumo or you’re a stripper, wherever you’re getting your shmoney, get your shmoney honey cause these n*ggas ain't tryna love us. I wanted it to be vulgar, I wanted you to be taken aback by it because you’re hearing it for the first time, I wanted you to feel empowered, I want you to feel like you don’t have to live up to anybody’s expectations except your own,
If you’re a real fan of Nadia Nakai, then you would’ve noticed the rapper has been releasing one single a year – apart from her features – which have all topped the charts, but now she is ready to release a body of work that she says will not only be club bangers but musically inclined and is set to surprise you.
“My life is what I choose to share, and I feel like it should be in the music, I don’t think social media is the platform to talk about personal things that people don’t understand about you. I feel like with social media, people read to respond, they don’t read to understand, so for me, I will always try and put it in the music, which is what I’ve done in the album now. I want people to listen to it and feel like: ‘I remember that incident, I remember when that happened,’ so I want them to feel like I’m answering a lot of questions that people might have about me.
I don’t think people don’t understand how long it takes to make a hit, I'm actually popping off of one song, I didn’t even drop this whole year until ‘YaasBitch’ and that’s kind of been my mantra, I’m not gonna flood the industry with misses, I’ll do features...I’m gonna make sure I plan my run for the year so I don’t make you feel like I’m gone. I worked hard on the song, people think I don’t know what I’m doing...and when I dropped ‘Yaasbitch’ a lot of people had shi*t to say."
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Main image credit: Supplied by @shotsoip