How did you get into hip-hop? What does your rap name mean?
Noah-O: I’ve just loved hip-hop ever since I was a little kid man. I used to see people in magazines and rappers on TV and knew one day that’s what I wanted to do. As far as my rap name, it’s actually part of my real name. People thought the s**t was cool so I just stuck with it.
How have the music and the city itself changed over the years?
N: Well, I was originally born in the Bay area and spent most of my childhood there. Then, I moved here and spent most of my young adult life here. When I first moved to Richmond in the 90’s, it was a top-10 murder capital. Most cats don’t know that during that time, we were a product of the crack era. It was just a lot more violent culture during the 80’s and 90’s. But, I feel like social media changed all that. Today, Richmond is a more liberal, more progressive, a more artistic city. Back in the 90’s, it was a lot more violent and more conservative. So, it feels like the city did a complete 180. But, as time changes, you’ve gotta adapt with the times.
Would you say your rap flow has adapted with the times as well?
N: I would say that my last two projects are traditional hip-hop. But, I wouldn’t say I’m trying to make 90’s s**t. A lot of s**t nowadays is trendy in hip-hop—it’s almost like pop, it all sounds the same. How are you going to be successful using someone else’s formula? However, I do think there are certain elements of hip-hop that transcend. That’s how you have your artists like J. Cole and Kendrick. Regardless of what the radio is playing, they stay true and that’s what I want to do with my music. I like to stay in my lane and build a strong fan base that will only grow with time.
Monument Avenue (Noah-O's first EP)
How has Slapdash grown over the years?
N: I’ve known Octavion since 2005-06, and they have definitely grown. I remember they used to throw parties and stuff and now have become a driving force for the hip-hop culture here in Richmond. There are cats outside of Richmond, in the DMV area that even know about them. I tip my hat to them for sure. Also, I’ve performed at every single Epic Fest.
All Souled Out (Noah-O's second EP)
What do you think needs to happen in the city for it to garner national attention like New York or Atlanta?
N: You can’t have a lot of artists that are dope without the proper infrastructure. You need writers, DJs, and radio stations have to get on board because otherwise you have all these people with different networks that don’t work together. Different people have different motives. It seems like people don’t give a f**k whether the city as a collective makes it and it’s frustrating. You’ve got a lot of people making noise but if all that doesn’t come together then the s**t is just going to fall apart.
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