Congratulations on the Na Hoku nomination. I must admit I hadn't heard of you until the nominations were announced, then I went on your Reverbnation page (http://Reverbnation.com/navidnajafi) and was quite impressed. Big ups man. Take a moment or two to introduce yourself to the readers out there you may night be familiar with you and your music.
I appreciate the love Kalani! I was born in Tehran, Iran and immigrated to New York when I was 8. I left NY at 18 and traveled around the country a bit before eventually moving to Hawaii around 2002. I feel like I been blessed with a voice to speak and i need to use it to bring truth to light and promote peace, positivity, and love. I love music that's from the heart and original regardless of style. I try to celebrate diversity and present something different as far as hip hop. If you listen to my record its all over the place musically but my lyrics are always on the revolutionary tip and from the heart.
So you were born in Iran, raised in NY, what brought you out to the islands and how did you eventually break into the scene here?
Wow it's kind of a long story!
I was lucky enough to visit and spend a few months on the Big island when my older sister moved there around 1997. I grew up around cities my whole life man, I instantly fell in love with Hawaii. While I was on Big Island I made life long friends with Ryan "Nohokai" Kelly and Jonah "Iamae”" Amae (Kamehameha Projects) who are incredible MC's and producers living in the Bay Area now and doing big things. I've been making music with those guys off and on for over 10 years. Along with Aloke, Levi, Ryn, Kapu, and Pure we are known as the Molten Poets and released an album in 2010. I also spent some time in Oahu before moving here and got to check out and meet the local hip hop community. Jamal was the first dude i met, who else right, and he introduced me to everyone. I was also here on Oahu for the 1999 ITF world finals, I wrote a story about it for Elemental magazine based in Atlanta and highlighted the Hawaii hip hop scene. I was super impressed with all the local cats who were holding it down throughout the different events. When I came here to live in 02 I began rhyming with a live band. After a short stint with some crazy ass friends called the Herbavoirs I started a band called 4elements. We giged all over the island. We were regulars for the pussycat lounge Tuesday nights at the Wave. We played with Quadraphonix, Microscopic Syllables, East Side Wrecking Crew, and many others. We had momentum and were in the process of recording our first album when we had sort of a falling out and some of the members went AWOL. Shortly after that my dad passed away on the mainland and I had to leave to tend to his business and look out for moms. That was 2004 and I didn't make it back here full time till about 2007. By then my focus had shifted outside music and I kinda stoped rapping but still kept writing, I always write I just can't help it. Around that time Nohokai moved to Oahu and got me back into recording music again. We started creating what would by 2010 become the Molten Poets. Around the same time I met Shawn Livingston Mosley and he brought me on board with his all star band Evasive Species. He believed in me and motivated me to focus and get serious with my music, allowing me to finally make my solo record, illnomadic, exactly how I wanted. He signed me to his label 'Aumakua Records, produced, engineered, mixed, mastered, played piano on, and released my record. We used all live instruments except for three beats I got from Nima Fadavi and one beat made for me by Sidecar Tommy from Beats Antique. I owe Mr. Mosley a ton of gratitude.
The boom bap you're bringing to the table is conscious and on that positive tip with a real nice jazzy feel to it. Describe your style and the hip hop lane you feel most comfortable rockin out to.
My favorite producers all time are Premier and J Dilla so that should tell you the style of Hip Hop I'm into. I also love the live sound of the Roots. Personally I can't help but write conscious raps. I'm into spitting political, socio-economic, spiritual, revolutionary lyrics. It's just how I was brought up. The injustice I've seen around the world has had a profound effect on me and motivates me to do something positive and use opportunities on the mic to bring attention to it. I also love to freestyle and go off the dome. Always ready to get down in a cipher. I’m about positivity and mutual respect. I'm not a battle rapper. That being said, I love watching battles and enjoy the competitive side of hip hop. I like all kinds of hip hop man as long as it's original and genuine. I’m not into commercialized rap but would never criticize anyone for putting food on the table. It's just not my thing personally and it bothers me that it has become the only side of hip hop the mainstream is allowed to hear.