Hot 100 Q&A: 18-Year-Old Rapper YBN Nahmir on How Cartoons Inspired His Breakthrough Hit

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Derek Contreras
The Alabama native, 18, previously peaked at No. 15 on Hot Rap Songs and No. 17 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs.

In September 2017, Nick Simmons had just kicked off his senior year of high school in Birmingham, Alabama, where he made a hobby out of filming music videos for original rap songs with his cousins after class. All that changed after the lighthearted video for his "Rubbin' Off the Paint" was picked up by video blog WorldStarHipHop, catapulting him to internet fame under the name YBN Nahmir. 

As the track reaches No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the charts dated the week of Dec. 30, Nahmir took a break from celebrating his 18th birthday to talk about his newfound fame, future plans and favorite cartoons.

When “Rubbin Off the Paint” started to take off, how did everyone at school treat you?

Everyone became a fan. Even the teachers and my friends started acting like fans -- it was starting to get weird. I was like, “Calm down.” The teacher would stop the lesson to talk about my song. I was a distraction because everyone was staring at me.

After you posted the song’s video on YouTube in September, what were your expectations?

It blew up overnight. I thought it was going to get, like, 1 million [views], then stop. Once it hit 2 million, I was like, “Oh, my God, we really taking off.” It’s crazy. We freestyled the whole [video]; it wasn't directed or none of that. A lot more people were supposed to be in [the video], but people had school the next day and a lot didn't show up. People all over the world are watching it now -- I’m worldwide.

I bet those who didn't show up for filming really regret that now.

[Laughs] Everybody!

You reference SpongeBob SquarePants and Rick and Morty in the song. Are you a cartoon fan?

I like SpongeBob for real -- I used to watch it 24-7. But Rick and Morty I was just talking about at school a few days before I started writing my song, because everything I’ve seen on the show is something I’ve talked about.

What are your plans for 2018?

I’m gonna drop a lot of new videos, and at the end of January or beginning of February I’m gonna drop a mixtape or album. I've got at least 50 or 60 songs that aren't released.

You’ve been vocal about remaining unsigned. Is that still the plan?

To be honest, we don’t know right now. There’s so much going on. Sometimes I want to grind on myself, but sometimes you need that extra help. I still want to be independent and say I got it on my own. I might sign and I might not. You never know.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Dec. 30 issue of Billboard.

 

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