Here at Limitless Magazine we have had the amazing opportunity of interviewing Naim Schoolfield. Naim is an on the rise recording artist from Wilmington, Delaware. He has a versatile and infectious sound as he mixes his different cultures into his sound. Being Puerto Rican and Black helps him combine and fuse a new sound that is Hip Hop/Jazz as well as Salsa and Merengue. Take a look at what Naim had to tell us in his interview.
Q: Can you tell our readers about what really inspired you to write music?
Naim: My first solo step into the hip-hop world was when I was 10-11 back in 2013-2014. I used to drive around in Grand Theft Auto 5 listening to “Radio Los Santos” on long nights. The first song that really opened my eyes to the new age hip-hop world was “Collard greens” by Schoolboy Q featuring Kendrick Lamar. On Kendrick’s verse he started rapping in Spanish and it really caught me off guard. From about that point forward I thought I could do the same thing that Kendrick did.
Q: When did you realize you were going to make music professionally?
Naim: I first realized that I was going to make music professionally when I left school in 2022. I was truly lost in life. I had no idea what I wanted to do whatsoever. On one end I had people telling me that I had to go to college and get degree to make anything out of my life and on the other end I had people telling me that I needed to live freely. I was very distraught for much of 2021 about what I wanted and needed to do with my life. I enrolled in the University of Delaware in the fall of 2021 and got to work with a busy school year. It was not until around December 2021 that I started having second thoughts about my choices towards the future. I was dead broke, depressed, unfocused, and uninspired. I dropped out of college after the first semester and fully immersed myself in the music. I was tired of being lost and following people’s advice into walls. I decided it was my time to take my life into my own hands. It was the best decision I have ever made. I have never been happier
Q: How do you describe your sound/style?
Naim: I enjoy bouncing around between vibes and styles most times. It depends on the project I’m making and how I feel that day. The biggest influences to my style are probably Drake, OVO 40, Frank Ocean, PARTYNEXTDOOR, and Kanye West. Sometimes I enjoy making very spacey music. I enjoy soundscapes and ambience and I try to incorporate that into certain songs. I could also make a boom-bap song where I rap straight bars for 3 minutes about the state of the world. I could even make a trap song talking about women and money if I wanted to. It depends on the project I’m making and how I feel that day. When I’m rapping I truly try to focus on quality writing and impactful lyrics. When I’m singing I try to see how I can experiment with melodies and notes to create sounds I haven’t heard before. When I’m producing I try to make sounds that I would sound best over. My sound mainly focuses on experimentation and creating ambient vibes. I’d say I’m a mix of the J. Cole side of rap and the Drake side of rap.
Q: What’s your process for dealing with performance anxiety?
Naim: My process for dealing with performance anxiety is a rather simple one. Whenever I’m feeling anxious about my work I remind myself that I have done it before. When I started making my last album I remember feeling like I was lost and had no idea how I could surpass my last work. Then I remembered I already made an album once before so there is nothing stopping me from doing it again. As I have branched out into other artistic pursuits like photography and cinematography I use the same thought process. Once I get passed the first step the rest of the process is seamless because I just keep reminding myself that I have been to this point before and made it out alive.
Q: What is your creative process when creating a new song?
Naim: My song creation process normally begins with a feeling. How do I feel and what does it mean in a song. I then focus on the beat. I will often run the beat over and over again just getting a feel for it’s BPM and overall vibe. I have to determine how the beat makes me feel so that I can convey those feelings back on the beat. I will start by playing the beat through speakers and just free styling over I for a few minutes. I value freestyling so much because its nearly subconscious for me. My brain will hear the beat and just start spitballing thoughts into the air. I often record my freestyle sessions so that I can go back and pull concepts form them. Some concepts are only accessible to the subconscious mind. When you start thinking too hard things can get convoluted. I just feel my way through the songs. Whatever feels right to me is what makes it to the final cut.
Q: Tell us about your new releases. What song are you pushing right now?
Naim: I just released my sophomore album “The Price of Life” on June 24th, 2022. It is an album born of the fall and winter. I had just entered college when I started making the album. It was cold outside and I felt like I was losing my mind. Between being lost in life and dead broke I also had to deal with disloyalty and strange behavior in what I thought were my friend groups. I started to feel very alienated from the people I once cared about. I decided I would stop moping around in the dark and pour it all into an album. The Price of Life was born. The first half of the album is very dark and spacey. It’s rap focused but not traditionally. I bathe the vocals in reverb and try to create sounds that really convey the thought of a dark empty space. The second half of the album reflects my exit from the dark mindset that I was living in for months. It features more high energy songs and a more traditional rap focus. This album was made a psychological examination of some of the worst of Slydel’s traits. Every emotion is taken to its max. Anger, love, lust, greed, ego, insecurity. It’s all there. I have paid the price of life.
Q: Lastly, do you think the internet and social media has made it easier for new talent or harder? And why?
Naim: I think the internet has made it both easier and harder for new talent to shine. Back in the day it was a lot harder to get exposure however this created a much sharper talent pool. Only the craftiest and absolute best of the best had a shot of making it to the big leagues. Now anyone can be seen from anywhere by anyone. It is much easier to distribute music and be seen by those that you want to be seen by. There is also much more competition though. I am now competing with anyone that has a mic, headphones, and a wifi connection. It’s not so bad though because I believe I have amassed skills to set me apart form the crowd I’m a member of. I make my own music videos, album covers, edits, and concepts. I taught myself how to sing and how to produce. I outsource very few of my processes because every time I think about outsourcing I wonder if I can just do it myself to the exact degree that I need. Most times I end up just doing it myself. The internet has taught me many skills about engineering and music production that I could have never gotten anywhere else. The modern age is a slippery slope but if you can get a good footing in this internet age you can make it to extreme heights