INTERVIEW: Birmingham's YBN Nahmir talks to HNHH about his viral single, "Rubbin Off The Paint," Bay Area influence, Chris Brown co-sign, video games and graduating high school while managing his career.
YBN Nahmir is a bubbling artist out of Birmingham, AL. At 17 years old, he's simultaneously managing his blossoming career in music while trying to obtain his high school diploma. The strength of his first single, "Rubbin' Off The Paint," garnered the attention of the hip hop community and is currently sitting at over 47 million plays on YouTube and landed him a position on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. The video, which consists of the baby faced rapper toting while his homeboys play dice in the background and they mob through the corner store. It's the innocence in his stature met with the mature content in his raps and its infectious beat that have drawn in so many people. The success of the single spawned several remixes by Vince Staples, Danielle Bregoli and MadeinTYO and also received a co-sign from Chris Brown at random.
Despite the success, he admits that the song came out of the blue and he didn't even take a hip hop career seriously until he started getting recognition for his talents. He's been rapping for the past several years while getting his talents out through freestyles over online Xbox parties. It's a unique come-up, the rapper gained a following through playing video games which would later help launch his rap career.
While he's been basking in the success of "Rubbin Off The Paint," there's also been controversy surrounding it. People speculated he fired shots at another young viral star after name dropping Tay-K on the song. He cleared that up admitting he was a fan of the incarcerated rapper. But the real controversy is the current drama that surrounds the song's production. In a since-deleted Instagram post, he aired out the fact that a former manager sold the beat to a major company that was trying to force him into signing with them. It's still going through the court process but it doesn't seem to have a real impact on his drive to push forward.
Despite the song's controversy, Nahmir's been riding the wave of "Rubbin'" and hasn't slowed down. He's delivered more music since then including his remix to Tay-K's "The Race" and his "Gucci Gang" remix. All of the videos he's delivered are also sitting well above a million views so far. He's also gearing up to drop his debut project at the top of 2018 with Hit-Boy and Pi'erre Bourne set to appear on it.
We recently got Nahmir on the phone where we chopped it up about his come-up, his favorite "Rubbin Off The Paint" remix, video games and his old school influences.
HNHH: When’d you first start rapping?
YBN Nahmir: I first started rapping when I was like fourteen, fifteen. You know, I was just messing around with rapping . I wasn’t really taking it serious. But then, I started taking it serious when I noticed people liked my music, you know? I started noticing it. People were really fuckin’ with my shit. So I just started taking it serious. But I always been rapping, I been rapping my whole life. When I was 14 or 15, [that] was the age I really started rapping like, for real.
What was your earliest memory of hip hop?
My first memories of hip hop were like Tupac, Eazy-E, Snoop Dogg and all that type of stuff. Then we had T.I. and everybody but you know like I was always influenced by like E-40 and all them. You feel me? Snoop and Tupac and everybody like that, like the west side, you feel me? Like the Bay Area and all that type of shit. So I was always influenced by that. Those are people I was listening to.
Was that the type of music playing in your household while you were growing up?
Yeah, like my mom and them were listening to them too, you feel me? I wasn’t the only one listening to that to Tupac and all that. My mom and all that. Everybody in my household listened to that, you know? It was always there.
Where does you name come from?
YBN stands for “Young Boss Niggas” and my name comes from, I had these homeboys a long time ago, one of their name’s was Nahsir and one of their names was Kaemor but his real name was Sahmir. My real name is Nick so you know, my name start with an N and I was just like , “Yo, this shit sound hard.” I just put everything together and then I came up with “Nahmir,” you feel me? And they was fucking with it ‘cause they was like my big bros.
Your come up in rap is different in comparison to many other rappers but it also seems to be an accurate reflection on hip hop’s wide reach. Can you explain how gaming helped you garner the attention of hip hop?
I mean like, I wasn’t really playing the game as much as people think I was. I would probably get on there like after school or something when I couldn’t go outside. Like it was too cold to go outside or it was too hot outside, police was around or something. But we’d always have these Xbox parties because I still had friends on the game, you know? So like, they’d be playing beats and shit in the little Xbox party and everybody would start rapping to it but we’ll be joking type shit. But I was always hard with it like even if we was joking, I’mma take it serious. So everybody was fucking with it and that’s how I got known on the little Xbox shit. And like, they was putting me on YouTube and everything, like people just started hitting me up on there, you feel me? I was just going crazy.
How did “Rubbin Off The Paint” come about?
It actually was random, it came up out of nowhere. I was just writing bullshit, finding beats on YouTube and just writing some shit but then, I had realized my brother was locked up and I was like ‘alright, lemme speak about some real shit but just talk some shit at the same time,’ you feel me? I just put what was going on in my life and did some talking shit type of shit up in there. I was talking my shit most of the song. It ain’t really have no meaning. But like “Rubbin Off The Paint” meaning like rubbin off the the serial code like the code on the gun. So that’s the meaning of “Rubbin Off The Paint” but most people ain’t know that but you know, I had to get that cleared.
There’s been some controversy surrounding “Rubbin’” beat that you aired out on Instagram. What exactly is the scenario behind it?
I really can’t speak on it because it’s going through the court process so I can’t really speak on it. But it’ll be aired out soon like everybody will know about it soon like what really happened.
Are you still working with the manager?
I’m not working with him no more.
Is this particular scenario impacting the way you’re releasing music right now?
I mean, not really. It’s just that song, you feel me? It was just the paperwork with that song and everything and the way it went down like I wasn’t aware of everything you know? Like there was stuff going on behind my back so I wasn’t, you know… into it.
“Rubbin Off The Paint” has been your biggest song to date with remixes from MadeinTYO, Vince Staples and Bhad Bhabie. Which one of the “Rubbin Off The Paint” remixes was the most unexpected?
I mean, the Bhad Babie one was kind of crazy because I was like dang, I ain’t know everyone was listening to my shit like that. I knew it had 30 mill at the time but I never would’ve thought like famous people was gonna remix my shit, you know? I thought they’d probably listen to it but they was out here like gettin’ the beat and remixin’ shit. That shit crazy, I was just like damn. It’s a blessing, for real.
Which is your favorite remix that you’ve heard so far?
I didn’t even know MadeinTYO made one. Right now, it’s probably the Bhad Babie one, yeah.
OMB Peezy is also an Alabama artist that you’ve said you supported. He’s also someone with a heavy Bay Area influence. What’s the relationship between Bay Area’s sound and Alabama?
I think he moved out there, he moved to the Bay or something like earlier on but most of my friends in Alabama is from the Bay so, you feel me, I started going out there and I started catching on to their slang and shit. You know, I’ve been to the Bay a few times so I know how shit goes over there. I gotta go to Vallejo this weekend and shit but I mean, it’s just the right people, you feel me? You gotta be connected to the right people, you feel me? If you tapped into the right people, you tapped in anywhere, bro. Like they fuck with my sound too.
What about California gangsta rap was appealing to you?
It’s crazy because my mom and ‘em like everybody older than my family, they from Connecticut. But most of my otherside is from Cali and North Carolina and all that shit but I don’t know, my mom from Connecticut but all she used listen to was people from the west coast. Like E-40, Tupac and all of them, so I always grew up around it like that was the only music my mom was really listening to. Like she was a big fan of Eazy-E. That was always around in my house so that’s the kind of sound I grew up on.
Within Birmingham, do you find a lot more people listen to west coast music than east coast?
Yeah, yeah, they listen to west coast music more than they listen to east coast. I mean, [there’s] a few older people that kind of listen to like east coast music. But down here, it’s mainly west coast shit or down south shit like Louisiana type shit. It’s west coast then you got like people who listen to Lil Boosie and all them then you got people that listen to French Montana and all them, it’s just the people you talk to, you know?
What’s the next move for you? Are you working on a mixtape or an album right now?
I mean, I think I probably already got enough songs for an album right now. I got over 50 songs I could drop but I got enough songs for like 2 or 3 albums. The end of January or the beginning of February, I’m probably going to drop a tape or something. So right now, I’m just working on singles and dropping music videos.
I seen you had a picture with Hit-Boy on your Instagram, will he be on the project?
Oh hell yeah.
What other artists or producers have you been working with on the project?
My producer, Hoodzone, we gon’ be out there. Hit Boy’s gonna be out there. Pi’erre [Bourne], probably a couple more people, I don’t know. Anything could happen.
Who’s the most unexpected co-sign that you’ve got so far?
Chris Brown. He just posted my shit. I was just like “what the fuck?” I was like ‘bro, that’s Chris Brown” like my nigga, nobody gets posted by Chris Brown, for real. It just happened out of nowhere. I was just shocked that he did it. I wasn’t really surprised by anybody else but when Chris Brown did I was just like “damn, like bro Chris Brown just posted my whole video.”
I was in the middle of a video shoot like I was walking outside to go to the other spot of the video shoot and right when I was changing my clothes and putting my shit in the back of the trunk like everybody was walkin’ up to me like “Nahmir, Chris Brown just reposted your shit!” I was like, “Bro, y’all niggas is lyin’” like I was like, “why would you even lie about some lame shit like that like I’mma really believe that shit. Chris Brown, nigga?” And I looked on there and Chris Brown had posted it, I think it had over like 200, 000 views in like I don’t know, in like an hour or something. It was just going crazy on his page and it was like “Who is this kid?” and shit like that.
As a budding star, you’re viral hit made waves while in your senior year of high school. Could you talk about your first day going back to school after “Rubbin’” blew up?
I didn’t go back the first day. I went back a week after it blew up. I was just walking in the hallway and like everybody would just be staring at me and then they’d be like “that’s the boy that made it onto Worldstar?” I was like, “bro, you’ve seen me in the hallway before.” I didn’t say that but I was like, “yeah.” But in my head I was like, “You niggas seen me before, why you acting like fans?” And then most of my friends was coming to my class. They don’t even got a class with me, they was sittin’ in class like “Yeah, this nigga made it to Worldstar.”
Everybody thought I paid to get on Worldstar but Worldstar had hit me up n’ just uploaded it. So you know, I didn’t really get to experience the whole famous part of this shit but I witnessed the form of it blowing up while I was in school. It really didn’t blow up at the time but it was kind of blowing up. Like if I go back to school now, kids gonna probably run after me, fanwise type shit.
How is it balancing high school and your career right now?
Right now, I’m doing online classes so it’s not really too hard.
What’s your favorite video game?
My favorite video game? Shiit, uhh… GTA 4. GTA 4, I used to be on like the competitive side. And like Call of Duty. I was always good at games but it was probably either Call Of Duty or GTA 4.