“I’m going to reach that No. 1 on Billboard,” YBN Nahmir confidently claims over the phone when asked of his music goals going forward. The Birmingham, AL native’s smash hit, “Rubbin Off The Paint” is soaring up the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The gritty record currently sits at No. 52 (chart dated Dec. 9) and could continue its climb into top 40 status on the Hot 100 in the coming weeks.
The emerging MC didn’t expect success this quickly in his career explaining, “I’m No. 52 and I didn’t even try on the song. I think all the work I put in from my other songs came in on that. God just made it happen. It’s a blessing, I didn’t expect any of this to happen.” The track has received multiple co-signs after being remixed by the likes of Vince Staples and (more recently) Bryson Tiller.
Nahmir’s life has quickly shifted into something he couldn’t imagine just last year, when he was on Xbox Live playing Grand Theft Auto V with friends, freestyling over beats into his headset. The 17-year-old is currently stationed in sunny Los Angeles, working on music a long way from home, but has brought much of the YBN crew out to build on this momentum.
Today, (Dec. 4) Billboard premieres YBN Nahmir’s “Popped Up,” featuring SOB x RBE’s Lul G. The brash record connects the coasts with Birmingham’s Hoodzone, who laid down the 808s filled production. Nahmir attacks his opposition aggressively rapping, “N—-as trying to make a diss for a little fame/ but when them pussy n—-as die I ain’t the one to blame.”
The Birmingham native has developed a nice rapport with SOB x RBE crew-member Lul G, and admitted “Popped Up” will be appearing on his forthcoming mixtape, which he expects to drop at the top of 2018. “That song means a lot,” he explains. “It’s hard for real. We’re going to get it on World Star. There’s not really anybody that could do a video at Mac Dre‘s house… It’s just the respect I got for them and they got for me.”
Nahmir refuses to sign with a major label after taking meetings with all the key players in the industry unless they meet his demands of having his own imprint for full creative freedom. The “No Hook” artist has agreed to a distribution deal with Julius “J” Erving’s Human-Re-Sources company to help push his music in a more productive fashion going forward.
After securing collaborations with superstars such as Chris Brown and MadeinTYO, the YBN artist looks to capitalize on his early success. Billboard caught up with the 17-year-old star via phone call to get his thoughts on the rise of “Rubbin Off The Paint,” collaborating with Chris Brown, crafting “Poppin Up,” plans for his upcoming mixtape and much more.
“Rubbin Off The Paint” is picking up serious steam at No. 52 on the Billboard Hot 100. Talk to me about the success of that record and what was the inspiration behind it?
YBN Nahmir: There’s been so much going on with the record. I’m just so surprised, because I didn’t expect it. I knew it was going to blow up, but not like this. I think all the work I put in from my other songs came in on that. God just made it happen. It’s a blessing, I didn’t expect any of this to happen. I’m thankful to be on the Billboard charts. My song is global and I’m thankful for everything happening right now.
A bunch of people have. Matter of fact, I’ve got something with Breezy coming soon. You’re going to see some hot shit. Most of the remixes I’ve heard go hard. I fuck with the “Cash Me Outside” girl (Bhad Bhabie). It’s a few others I fuck with too. When they hop on that beat, I think it’s the beat that goes hard and people go crazy.
How did you link up with Chris Brown?
I was in his house. That’s big bro. I wouldn’t expect anyone to do that type of shit for me. He brought me into his home, it’s crazy. That’s Chris Brown.
How would you describe your upbringing in Birmingham, AL as well as your musical influences growing up?
In Birmingham, there’s not really people you could listen to, nobody has really blown up out of there. I’ve always listened to West Coast rappers like Tupac and Snoop Dogg. Most of my friends were from the West Coast and it was a big influence on me. I used to go out to the Bay a lot. My mom and Auntie were real big fans of Tupac and Eazy-E. I was listening to them since I was a baby.
As a gamer, what influence did Xbox Live parties have on you starting to rap?
Someone would play the beat through their phone and I would freestyle over the microphone. It wasn’t too professional or anything. We were still kids and everyone would rap over the beats. Back in the day, like 2005, I used to play Driver. Now it’s Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty and True Crime.
What’s your vision for the YBN crew over the next few years?
Right now, I’m bringing most of my people out to L.A. I’m rapping, my homeboy Almighty Jay out here rapping. He’s got something big coming soon. YBN Glizzy is about to drop his first song. Just know Manny is dropping some hot shit, too. I just want everyone to know we’re going to work and grind, then see what happens from there. I’m expecting my people to be at the top.
How does your rapping differentiate from the current sound that has dominated hip-hop?
I don’t always do that little ‘Ay, ay, ay.’ I’m not a mumble rapper either. I speak the facts. Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti speak that party hot-shit. It’s that Atlanta type of style. My sound is inventive.
With “Letter To Valley,” you’re paying homage to a fallen friend?
It’s a sequel to the “Letter To Valley Part 1” and I got four other ones. But they got taken off of YouTube because of the beat I was using. They got copyrighted, so I had to take them down. They’re on the laptop at my house. Every year I do a song for my homeboy Valley, who passed away from a heart attack. Next year I’m going to do a Part 6 around the day he died, January 7.
You remixed Lil Pump‘s “Gucci Gang,” is that someone you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
I don’t see myself working with Lil Pump. He goes crazy though. We have two different sounds, but he goes hard.
In the “No Hook” visual with YBN Almighty Jay, is there any reason your crew is wearing airbrushed “In Loving Memory of Pablo Escobar” shirts? I know Kanye West had a shirt designed just like that in honor of his mother.
We got them from my homeboy King The Legend, who makes clothes. He made the black and white jumpsuits we had on. He does most of the clothes we wear. That Pablo Escobar shit was hard, so we copped those shirts, and I fuck with Kanye’s shit too. It went crazy in the video.
Do you plan on finishing high school?
I’m still going to finish, I got the online classes right now. I’m not going to lie to you, I’m probably going to pay someone to do that shit, but I got to get my diploma. I have to walk across that stage for my mother. If anything, I have to get that diploma before the year ends.
Which record labels have you met with already?
Everybody from Atlantic, Interscope and Universal, we’ve met with already. I’m not really looking to sign right now, to be honest. If I sign, it will be under a label where I could have my own shit still. That’s the only way.
Have you made any expensive materialistic purchases with your recent success?
We bought a Ferrari California, but I didn’t use all my own money. Other people helped out with that. I can’t really drive it, though. They took my license away for some shit I did back in Alabama. At least I got a car already and when I get my license back I can use it.
What’s your main goal with music going forward as well as your upcoming mixtape?
I’m going to keep going hard. I’m going to reach that No. 1 on Billboard. No release date yet for the tape, but it’s going to be the end of January or beginning of February. There’s some big names you wouldn’t expect me to work with on there. PnB Rock and Rich The Kid are going to be on there for sure. I linked up with MadeinTYO yesterday (Nov. 27). I got something coming with him real soon. Snap Dogg and a few other people, but you wouldn’t expect it to happen so soon.