Here at Sphere of Hip-Hop, we’ve been fans of NomiS for a while now. Just about anything he drops gets a co-sign from us. Yet, for as long as we’ve been promoting his stuff, we never sat down with him for an interview. Today that gets rectified. Not only did we catch up with the “Everyday Hero” but he also drops some details about an upcoming album. So, check it.
You’re no stranger to Sphere of Hip-Hop, but this is the first time we’ve sat down for an interview. Thanks for taking the time to do it. First, some background questions for those who aren’t familiar with you. Why the name “NomiS” and how did you come up with the name?
You’re right! Sphere and I have a very long history but I think this is the first interview I’ve done for the site. Definitely a long time coming. As for the alias, “NomiS” is simply my last name in reverse. Funny story behind the choosing of that name though. In High School when my friends and I started rapping, we formed our first group and everybody had a rap name except for me. I was constantly hounded to pick a name but didn’t see the importance of it. One day in class my friend Omar (some of you might know him as “BlackBolt” or “Afaar”) says to me, “C’mon dog, JUST PICK A NAME!”. I was literally writing my name on a sheet of paper for a class assignment at the time and turned the paper upside down and thus, “NomiS” was born. Zero thought behind it whatsoever in the moment, but its stuck with me ever since.
You often refer to yourself as the “Everyday Hero,” what do you mean by that?
The tag of “Everyday Hero” is a title that I use to show people that anybody can be a proponent for change. When I think of the most impactful & influential people in our culture/history, they’re seldom people who were given a platform before they began to make their mark. The easiest example would be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King was a regular guy like you and me. He wasn’t a president or senator or a UN representative or anything like that. He was simply an everyday man who decided to act. I try to be that kind of person and I want others to be encouraged to do the same.
Now that we know a bit about who you are, what does a typical day in the life of NomiS look like?
A typical day with NomiS. Lets see…. Well, I’m up by 7 am everyday because my wife is getting ready for work. I watch “First Take” on ESPN or re-runs of “House” on Netflix. Im trying to work on adding mandatory recreational reading time in that slot as well, but have been inconsistent if I’m honest. By 9am I’m at my workspace in front of my computer. Depending on which season I’m in as an artist (writing, producing, recording, etc.) I pretty much do that until 5 pm. I’ve formed my non traditional job of full time music to work within very traditional parameters for the most part. There’s obviously a lot of exceptions to that out of necessity (shows, deadlines, meetings, etc.), but a standard work day ends at 5 for me. It’s important to make that the standard as it pertains to how I invest into my marriage. Also to clarify, it’s not all music making. A lot of doing full time music is responding to emails unfortunately. Within that 9-5 work time, I stop for time with the Lord and time in the gym a few times a week. I try to squeeze in eating but I’m not always successful. HAHA.
Along those same lines, it’s been a couple years since you last dropped an album, what have you been up to since then?
Yes it has! For many it would seem like my last release was “Alpha Trion” back in 2012 when in reality it was “The Wretched” in 2013. “Alpha Trion” did REALLY WELL for me! Unfortunately “The Wretched” didn’t have the impact that we’d hoped for. We really wanted to get that project into the theater world so that’s where our primary focus was promo wise. The response from the HipHop community was hit or miss. I still believe that if I ever “make it,” I will re-release that album and the HipHop heads who “didn’t get it” will all of the sudden call it brilliant. HAHA. Even still, 2 years between releases is a long time in today’s standards. I just tried to step away from any real releases in hopes to not over saturate myself. Plus, I got married and was really focused on planning a wedding and all that good stuff. But now I’m back and I’m focused. This new music has been so freeing for me. I have a clear goal as to who I am as an artist, what my strengths are and what I want to represent. That’s something I lacked for a long time. I think I’ve made good music for a while but I lacked direction. I know where I’m going now and I’m guessing some people will hop off the train when they hear it. But, now the train is properly marked so I’m more visible to the proper passengers. Are you following me or was that way to cryptic? HAHA
Let’s shift gears a bit. You’re a Christian and someone who cares deeply about what’s going on in the world. Why have you chosen to use your music as a platform to share both your faith and social commentary? Wouldn’t it be easier to make music that doesn’t challenge your listeners?
Great question. As you’ve stated and as you’ll hear on this new album, I talk a lot about issues of Social Justice. Some have accused me of talking more about Social issues than my faith, but to me they’re one in the same. To put it simply, I’m a Justice nerd because Jesus taught me to be one. At the core of fighting any issue of Social Justice, it really just comes down to loving your neighbor as yourself. Which as Jesus states is the second greatest commandment after loving God. In Matthew 25 Jesus has some very harsh words towards people who don’t meet the needs of the least of these. The Book of Isaiah talks about “correcting oppression” and “seeking Justice.” This is just a few examples but Social Justice is ALL OVER THE BIBLE. I can’t in good conscience make music that doesn’t push or challenge people to think about their lives and their perspectives. We are at an interesting time in HipHop because, for the first time, there is A TON OF RAP MUSIC FOR PEOPLE WITHIN THE CHURCH. A lot of it is really good too. But unfortunately, it has become a bit of a Christian Club. Don’t get me wrong, it does a ton of good! But, I feel like it also has put a lot of its Christians audience in a bubble that closes communication to the world. The healthy don’t need a doctor. The beauty of making music centered around issues such as Human Trafficking is that it’s a great bridge between the “religious” and the “Secular.” 99% of mankind can agree that Sex Trafficking is a disgusting and horrendous act. Both sides of the fence are challenged and now we’ve built a bridge for dialog to happen between the two worlds. This is my door to show people Jesus.
What difference do you hope to make with your music?
On a micro level I want to inspire, enlighten, and encourage people to impact their communities for change. I also want people to understand that global issues such as child labor are just as much our problem as it is the country in which it is happening. I want to see Human Trafficking end in our lifetime. On a macro level, I want God to be honored in how I’ve chosen to use my platform.
A lot of Christians seem to only care about what directly impacts them? Why should they care about what’s happening locally and globally? Any good resources for keeping tabs on what’s happening in the world?
Another great question. I could write books on this stuff! HAHA. Naturally human beings prioritize the things that exist in their bubble. We claim that we are one race of Human beings but we for sure do not live that way. In any issue having to do with people, you have to remove the idea of “us” and “them.” Or what I refer to as, “the other.” For example, when people talk about Child Soldiers in Uganda it’s almost as if they are talking about an endangered rhino species or something. Sure we care, but not necessarily enough to respond. They don’t look like us, their culture isn’t like ours, we cannot relate. They are “the other.” But if your daughter, brother, son, mother, etc were being forced to do such a thing you would move heaven and earth to put an end to it. When we feel any attack that exists within our “us” bubble, we are willing to do almost anything in response to stop it. Mankind has to learn to view all humans in this light. A difficult task I know. But if we all truly are a seed of Adam, a seed of Noah, then we truly are family. If you believe that all people are fearfully and wonderfully made, then God cares for “the other” no more or no less than he does for you or the people in your “us” bubble. God doesn’t hold extra concern or care for Americans. We are just like the rest of the world… vapors in the wind. As for resources, there are tons of places to look. As it pertains to Human Trafficking, I personally always go back to the Not For Sale Campaign. They are a great, forward thinking organization that is making real change in the world! But there are a lot of other good ones out there like the International Justice Mission as well. You can get more info about Not For Sale at NotForSaleCampaign.org
So, I hear you have a new album coming out soon. What can we expect from it? Sound? Content?
YES I DO!!! The album is called, “Socially Just” and you can expect the unexpected. You can expect a central theme content wise, but a diverse range of sonic frequencies musically. You can expect to feel uncomfortable at times, but you can expect to be encouraged equally. You can expect a diverse range of tempos from song to song and as soon as you think I’ve gone too far left (no pun intended) I bring you right back center stage. If you are willing to stay on board you will enjoy the ride.
What did the process of making this album look like?
This process was different than other albums I’ve done for sure. I’ve never really allowed other artist I know and trust to listen to my work until it’s all packaged and past the point where I can take constructive criticism and apply it directly. All of my artist friends excel in different areas of the music so I need iron to sharpen iron. Showing them songs and having fresh ears to hear the music is super helpful. Both Ruslan & Beleaf of the Dream Junkies, along with my older brother sINAi gave me lots of feedback throughout and some of the songs are much better because of it! Also, I’ve always branched out and worked with a lot of different producers on a project. This album I only worked with 2 other producers besides myself. DJ Rek and Anthony Cruz (Dream Junkies). I was more intentional about what the album needed and wrote accordingly instead of just writing when I heard a beat that sounded good. I was also very picky about the collaborations on this one. The only rapping features I have are a song with Propaganda and another with Jurny Big. But I used a lot of my in house musicians and singers all throughout the album. You’ll hear live bass, guitar, piano, etc. woven between synth and midi. Speaking of that, I had to go back and replay a lot of samples this time which is something I’ve never done before.
When can people get their hands on it?
The album will be out sometime this summer. Late August/early September. Although the pre-orders should be up at the beginning of August. For those who pre-order, they will get the album early.
Anything you want to add before we sign off?
Yes I do… Thank you to those who are reading this. I hope you support the project and tell some friends about it. I hope my album “Socially Just” challenges you, but inspires you at the same time. Even though there is a lot of good music out now, I’m just trying to do my own thing and I hope people can appreciate that and see what I’m trying to start over here. I come from an era where that was admired. Often it seems these days like that approach is to an artists detriment.
Thanks for continually speaking on behalf of the silenced. We appreciate you & your music!
Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me brother. This was long over due!