NADA Problem Interview
ExiLeD: Hey Nada Problem, appreciate you meeting with me on such short notice. It’s a tremendous pleasure, I’m a huge fan of your music man.
Nada Problem: Hey thank you very much, I appreciate it.
ExiLeD: So we’re just going to get right down to it and find out a little bit about yourself, as a person, as an artist… and where you’re going to go from here?
Nada Problem: Sounds good.
ExiLeD: So tell me, how long have you been in the game?
Nada Problem: Well I’ve been writing lyrics for over 15 years now. I started recording sometime around 2003 and started recording more seriously sometime around 2005. So around 10 years as a recording artist.
ExiLeD: Okay nice, I see you’ve quite a few albums under your belt. What is it that made you start getting into writing and recording?
Nada Problem: Well there was this lady who came to our school to teach poetry when I was in middle school. She went to schools all over and stayed at each school for about a week. Well sometime after she had been at our school she ended up calling my house and speaking with my parents. She wanted to use the poem I wrote in a book she was doing, which showcased the best poems from all the schools she went to. I didn’t understand why mine was considered a “good poem” since I didn’t really try and was just doing my assignment. My mom then explained that we had a lot of wordsmiths in our family. Lawyers, authors, poets and play writes, etc. She said “maybe you’re just a natural” and encouraged me to do more, which I did. As I started experimenting with poetry, I ended up getting several published. Eventually the poetry led to hip hop lyrics. And the rest is history.
Exiled: Okay, okay, cool. So let me ask you this. Who are some of your main influences?
Nada Problem: Man they’ve changed so much over the years you know, there’s so many phases that you go through. Early on I was focused on sounds. I liked the harder, rougher, kind of gangster type stuff (laughs). And then I got more focused on content. And sometimes, the deeper you get into the content, the emcees are often sacrificing sounds for content. You’ll notice it’s harder to make the deeper, more intricate lyrics sound musically catchy sometimes. So I focused on sounds at first, then lyrics/content… and then I searched for both (which only the really good ones can pull off). So there’s been so many along the way. But now days I like artists like Big K.R.I.T., Blu, Brother Ali, Yelawolf, Joe Average a.k.a. Aaron!!, Parker and many others.
ExiLeD: Absolutely man. Now I definitely dig the name Nada Problem. For me, anytime an issue or struggle comes up in my life, in the back of my I’m just think hey, it’s “Nada Problem”. Now is there any reason for that name? Where did it come from?
Nada Problem: Honestly, I had a bunch of little grimy running buddies back in the middle school days and one of them would always call me Nada. For some reason it just kind of stuck over the years. Also, people say I have a laid back “no problem” attitude so it just seemed kind of fitting.
Exiled: Very nice. Now to me, I am a big fan of your music and have heard a lot of your tracks. Is there a common theme or message behind your music?
Nada Problem: Hmmm… Maybe not intentionally but… probably there is. You know, I’m big on being yourself, and being honest, and if something is important to you then that’s where you belong. So probably what shows up in my music are recurring ideas of persistence, perseverance and resilience, as well as being emotional. You know it’s okay to be emotional, we’re humans and that’s what we do.
ExiLeD: Okay, I can definitely appreciate that man. Well let me ask you this, as an independent recording artist, what is your favorite aspect of it?
Nada Problem: Well, I think what still draws me in is just the words. I don’t know why I’m so drawn into words I just always have been. Just weird arrangements of words have always gotten my attention. The same went for my little brother you know, we were always bouncing things back and forth which most of the time didn’t even make since. We’d just have fun being word people and could always find a way to make each other laugh. So there’s that and then of course there’s the performing you know… the cheers are always nice and the positive feedback for something that you’ve worked so hard at. Plus the recording aspect of it. When you record something and the mix comes out just the way you envisioned it… that’s just an incredible feeling. It’s always very satisfying. But I would say most of all is when someone says the music helped them or it meant a lot to them. Anything positive that comes out of it is always completely humbling and overwhelming to hear, especially for something that just started in your bedroom when you were growing up.
ExiLeD: Yeah, absolutely. I can already tell you that some of your music has gotten me through some of the darkest times of my life and it often feels like you wrote some of that music specifically for me. A lot of your music and your lyrics especially, really hit very close to home for me. They let me know that hey, everything’s going to be okay. And I can’t thank you enough for your music helping me get through it all.
Nada Problem: Man you’re very welcome and it means so much to me to hear that. I can completely relate and know exactly what it’s like to be at a very low point in life and finding an album that you can cling to. I’ve been there and those are albums you never forget. So to know that I had an album that did that for somebody is an unbelievable feeling. So thank you too.
ExiLeD: Of course. I hope you keep on doing it man. We need more of you out there. Let me ask you this: As a performing and recording artist, especially an independent one, what would you say is the biggest downside to it all?
Nada Problem: As an indie artist there’s just so many things that need to get done. Specifically if you’re a solo artist, because you’re doing every single aspect of it yourself. When you’re in a group there are lots of things you can delegate and have each member working together simultaneously. Same goes for mixing, mastering, financing the projects and show preparation time. If you’re a solo artist then every word that is spoken on stage is going to be by you. Same goes for writing the songs. Writing a verse to be on a song with others is one thing, but writing the whole song is a completely other monster. So it all just leads to time. Lots and lots of time.
ExiLeD: Yeah, I can only imagine man. Has there been a time in your music
career that you got discouraged or thought about hanging up the mic and just walking away?
Nada Problem: Yeah I would say a good hundred times, at least. It’s a daily choice. The further that you get along in this and the longer you’ve done it, the more you’ve got to really dig deep. But if you love it you’ve got to keep doing it. But yeah you do have times where you think “maybe I should just quit and walk away” because you feel like it needs more time than you can give anymore. But those are all natural thoughts in any department of life. So time and time again, even if I had have thoughts like that and maybe even agreed to quitting in my head, something will happen. I’ll see some scene in a movie, or maybe watch a music video, or something, and I once again remember what’s important in life. And that of course is your passion. So when I once again realize it’s still a huge passion that’s not going anywhere, I always seem to dust myself off and keep going.
ExiLeD: Well I’m definitely glad to hear that because I know that other fans and followers of yours who I know personally, have all told me the same thing. They say your music keeps them going when times are hard and that it gives them a source of empowerment and perseverance.
Nada Problem: Well thank you man that’s such a great thing to hear. It’s all so new to me hearing things like that from people I haven’t met. It’s really inspiring.
ExiLeD: Well it’s true. Let me ask you this, has there been any defining moments in your career or personal life that has had a true impact on the nature of your?
Nada Problem: Yes there definitely has. There was the passing of my little
brother. He passed away in 2010 and that was a big defining moment because it was such a tremendous loss. He was a musician and an emcee as well and so it made me want to stand up and push on for him. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Also, being able to meet and do shows with people who I’ve listened to for years and have been fans of is also very inspiring.
Exiled: Yes I can definitely imagine. Now you mention the loss of your little brother and I do have your album “All Day.” I know that your brother’s stage name was All Day. One track that definitely stood out to me on that album was the track also titled “All Day.” I too have experienced tremendous loss that cannot be put into words and that track helped me deal with some of my own losses. Now I noticed on that track the slot for the 3rd verse was left blank. Is there any particular reason for that?
Nada Problem: Yes there absolutely was. As I mentioned my little brother was also an emcee so I left that verse blank for him to write his verse to from
heaven. Or wherever he may be. I know that if he was alive there was a good chance he could be right next to me when working on music. So yeah, that blank slot is his. It’s there forever in case he wants to change his verse about 100 times. Which he loved to do.
ExiLeD: Man, that’s powerful stuff. Kind of made me tear up a little. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to write that song so I just want to say thank you for doing so. That song reaches a lot further out than you probably know.
Nada Problem: Well thank you as well and yeah it was something I just wrote without even thinking about. Wasn’t even planning on ever sharing it. But I did and it got good feedback so I’m glad that a tribute for him was so well received.
ExiLeD: Yes definitely. So let’s move onto a lighter note and let me ask you this. If you could do a song with any artist out there, who would it be?
Nada Problem: Oh wow, that’s tough. Well I mentioned Big K.R.I.T., I ‘m a huge fan of his. He’s honest and soulful. Those are 2 things that I absolutely love in hip hop. There’s also artists like Blu, Brother Ali, Parker, Yelawolf, and many, many others. As well as all the old legends. Nas, Eminem, The Roots, Common, T.I. – there’s just too many to name. Great question by the way.
ExiLeD: Thanks man I got you thinking with that one. Now I’ve gotten to preview some of your upcoming album and some of your tracks in the works and I have to say they are absolutely off the hook. What would you say is some of the inspiration for this next project?
Nada Problem: Well I would say a big influence on me in the past couple years is meeting an artist by the name of “Aaron!!” - We’ve become very close friends and he’s someone who I hugely respect as a person and musician. Just knowing him has reminded me of how important it is to be honest in your music, even the ugly stuff. So a major theme for this project is again honesty and really touching on subjects that are unique only to me. And my life. Once you start doing that, it opens up and endless amount of possibilities for content. I think a lot of artists over look that and are too caught up in persona raps and trying to look cool. Rather than taking the chance to tell their story.
ExiLeD: Man that makes total sense and really is good to hear from a hip hop artist. So what myself and other fans of yours out there expect in the future for Nada Problem?
Nada Problem: Well… I’ve really tried to step up the production of my new music. I’m hoping to have a good response from this upcoming project and if that ends up being the case then quite possibly there will be all the usual things that accompany a successful album. Doing shows, videos, more new music, etc.
ExiLeD: Well I tell you what man, I can’t express how excited I am for that project to come out. I know lots of other people have mentioned wanting another album from you as well. We need these songs from you man. We are anxiously waiting.
Nada Problem: Well tell them all it’s coming and that I’m trying to make it the best it can be before I let it fly away forever. Tell them that.
ExiLeD: I definitely will man. Well one last question… What can we do as an organization, myself, Underground Interviews.org, your followers, your fans and anyone wanting to support you… What can well all do to help you as an artist:
Nada Problem: Well you know, there’s always purchases on iTunes and things like that but I don’t necessarily think that’s what it is. I think more importantly is to just spread the music and show it to as many people as you can. If you like it/believe in it and think someone can benefit from it or may like it as well, show it to them and as many others as you desire. Hopefully the music will speak for itself. Because when things like that happen and it spreads by word of mouth, things begin to pick up speed which always will reflect online. Online presences and online success lead to other opportunities. Even if it’s not buying anything and it’s just listens, views, likes, visits, messages, sharing, any of that. The more people you can get on your side the more you can do. Army’s move mountains man.
ExiLeD: You’re exactly right man I couldn’t agree more. Well I can say for sure that it’s been great spending some time with you and getting to know you as a person and of course as a musician. I really hope the best for you in the near future as an individual and as an artist. If there’s anything at all myself or our organization can do to help you, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Because the world needs more of you man. And our organization will “move mountains” anytime we can to help you progress.
Nada Problem: Thank you so much man and it was great spending some time with you too. Thanks to you and all the staff at UndergroundInterviews.org. It’s been great talking and learning about your organization.
ExiLeD: Of course Nada Problem. Hope to do another interview down the road after you win a Grammy.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF PATRICK "ALL DAY" PHILLIPS