When the masses first heard NAV on SoundCloud 5 years ago, we had no idea who he was or what he looked like, but we knew the music was good. He wasn’t one of those artists that had a dope catchy record, he was an artist that had a catalogue, albeit a succinct one, of music that felt like nothing else we ever heard.
We all know the feeling of hopping in the car late night and driving to something smooth, but to infuse that energy with druggy undertones, dynamic synths and dark but powerful drums is something that we didn’t hear from anyone else besides NAV. At the time, he went by “@BeatsByNav” and we knew immediately that he was solely responsible for this new “genre” of music that we fell in love with. His production energized us, but he also wrote and performed hooks and lyrics that were relatable and catchy enough to keep us continually listening. To this day, some of our favourite songs are the SoundCloud classics, “The Man”, “On My Own”, “Fell In Love With LA”, and of course “Myself”, which would go on to be one of his most commercially successful singles, still getting plays even after its 2x platinum certification.
We’re not here to speak for anybody else, but we know when to give credit when credit is due. When NAV began to gain popularity as a solo artist back in 2015/2016, a lot of us had just gotten older, were able to stay out late, drive, and enjoy the time energy, whether it be on our own, or with our friends. For the most part, NAV was the soundtrack to those late-night sessions, and those even later drives.
And then, suddenly, everything changed. NAV released the now platinum single “UP”, which was co-produced with one of the biggest producers in the world, Metro Boomin. We couldn’t help but think,
“what the fuck was Boomin doing on this guy’s SoundCloud page?”, but clearly, Metro knew even better than us what NAV would become. This was the first time that the industry’s respect for him was publicized. It was one thing for us to like NAV’s music, it was another to know Metro Boomin liked it too. It was a confirmation.
Shortly after this, we started to learn a little more about NAV. There were rumblings early on that he had a deal with XO, but nobody knew if it was true. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, one of the biggest labels in the world, XO, with one of the most popular acts in the world, The Weeknd, put the world on notice. NAV was here, and he was going to have one of the most respected labels in the industry backing him. This was right around the time The Weeknd was beginning to take over the world, the same takeover that he’s still building on now, and right next to him, opening up arenas on tour, was the “brown boy from the Rex” – a co-sign that couldn’t have come at a better time.
Over the course of the last 5 years, NAV would continue to develop as an artist and become one of the most commercially successful rappers out of Toronto. He would go on to work with even more of our (and likely his) favourite artists, and stack up plaque after plaque, while steadily growing in popularity.
Both of his last albums, Good Intentions and Bad Habits, debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts; and on both, we were privy to his growth.
At the time of writing, Nav has over 10 platinum singles, with several of them doing even better than that. His latest full length, Good Intentions, which only dropped in May of last year is about to be certified gold, and the two projects he released prior have already reached platinum.
When you see his numbers laid out in front of you, it’s hard to project anything besides feelings of pride, especially if you were one of those people who had been listening since “the SoundCloud days”. Still, it sometimes feels like NAV doesn’t get the respect that he deserves.
NAV has been open about the disrespect he’s received online, and we’ve seen some of it too. Even though the numbers speak for themselves, NAV is the first one to say that he still plans on getting better.
Again, we’re not going to tell you to like NAV’s music, but we do think you should respect him. NAV is undeniably talented and hardworking. His output since he’s come into the game is impressive for any artist, and I think Toronto sometimes forgets that he’s one of our own. He is without a doubt one of the most popular artists out of Toronto to date, and the numbers prove it.
Of course, his ability and work ethic might not be obvious to the casual fan, but it has garnered him the respect of his peers. With co-signs from and incredible records with the likes of Future, Young Thug, Gunna, Lil Baby, Lil Durk, and more, it’s clear to see that your favourite artists appreciate NAV for who he is, so why can’t we do the same?
To this day, NAV is the only artist out of Toronto to release a solo collaboration album with Metro Boomin. Yes, Drake worked with Metro alongside Future on WATTBA, but that only adds to our point that NAV is among the greatest. And with that project, so early in his career, he joined an elite group, and he’s there for a reason. Even now in 2021, the only artists to work that closely with Metro are Drake and Future, as well as 21 Savage, Offset, Big Sean and Gucci Mane.
In 2020, 5 years after we first played NAV’s SoundCloud cuts, he released one of his best projects to date, Good Intentions, and felt no need to slow down or take time off. Almost immediately after, he locked in with another one of the most popular producers in modern hip hop, and dropped Emergency Tsunami, a collaboration tape with Wheezy, who has huge records with Drake, Juice WRLD, Future, Young Thug, Travis Scott, Gunna, Lil Baby, and Meek Mill to name a few. But aside from very early work with Shad Da God, and his work with Gunna on the first Drip Or Drown early on in their careers, he hasn’t locked in for a collaboration project with anyone else besides NAV. Again, we have to give credit where credit is due. Yes, NAV is the “first brown boy to get it poppin”, but he’s also a well-respected figure in hip hop, and his peer group helps prove it.
You can say what you want about NAV, but that doesn’t change the fact that 2020 has been one of his biggest years to date, and he’s seemingly getting better.
We encourage you take a step back and realize what you’re witnessing. Toronto, don’t be afraid to claim that NAV has one of the most impressive career trajectories in history. He’s literally the first to do what he’s doing, and he’s doing a damn good job at it.
In 2021, the numbers will continue to grow, and the plaques will continue to pile up, but most of all, he’ll continue to be respected by the people that matter. You can either help celebrate his success or watch it in vain. The choice is yours.