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Digital Nas on 'Donda,' New Music, and Brand 29131

Digital Nas, dubbed the "prodigy of creativity," is a highly respected music producer, fashion designer, and rising artist based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Digital Nas (DN) is widely renowned for his creativity and perceptiveness as a writer and producer, which he has honed since adolescence. Over the years, DN has worked alongside a number of hip-hop heavy hitters, including Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Lil Yachty, Playboi Carti, A$AP Ferg, Trippie Redd, Smoke Purp, and Sheck Wes. His sophisticated understanding of dynamic soundscapes has made him a leading voice of the hip-hop industry. Spearheading various cutting-edge industry trends, DN experiments with bold new tools and sounds to create something never-before-heard.

Digital Nas combines his love of music with his passion for fashion through his skateboarding brand, 29131. The collection is an ode to the artist's friends, family, and other influences growing up, appearing exclusively at pop-up shops and events.

Most Recently, Digital Nas worked as a producer on Kanye West's 10th studio album, Donda, which was released on August 29.

Donda is a powerful tribute to West's mother, and is at the forefront of innovation in songwriting, recording, and music production. "Remote Control" draws listeners in with compelling lyrical content and melodies, as well as thoughtfully arranged beats. The track concludes with a few seconds of the viral "Globglogabgalab" YouTube video (originally from Strawinsky and the Mysterious House). "Junya" is the ninth song on the album, and highlights the complexity that lies within a repeated chord progression. The tune's instantly recognizable organ parts are continued in "Junya pt 2" toward the end of the release.

Digital Nas plans to put out more music soon, with his project DN 3 set to be released later this year, as well as other works to be announced. Follow his Instagram (@digitalnas) for the latest updates.

We spoke with Digital Nas about his experience producing on Donda, new music, his skate-fashion brand (29131), and more. Read the full interview and listen to Donda below.


At what age did you start making music?

I started making music at around 13 or 14 years old. I grew up skateboarding, and was always listening to music while I skated. I liked it so much that I decided to make some of my own.

What were some of your favorite artists to listen to while skating?

I listened to a lot of artists, including Kanye West, Soulja Boy, and Germs.

Who are your biggest musical influences now?

Kanye West is definitely a huge influence of mine. Playboi Carti is my friend, and I really admire what he’s doing right now, too.

Tell us about your songwriting and production processes.

I try to be as transparent as possible with my feelings and emotions; if I’m able to let out my emotions in an authentic way, that’s how I know I’ve made great art.

"If I’m able to let out my emotions in an authentic way, that’s how I know I’ve made great art."

What is the first thing you do when you get to the studio?

I start by going through some beats. I love making and listening to beats–they’re a good place to start to help me catch a feeling.

What is your favorite project that you’ve worked on?

My favorite project that I’ve worked on is Donda. It felt super full circle and unreal to be working with Kanye, and I learned so much about making great music while working on the album. It’s really hard to explain exactly how it felt… the best way to describe it is just, “Donda.” It felt like we were creating some of the best music–in the same way that Apple makes great smartphones.

What was the most challenging part of working on Donda?

This album really pushed me to the limit. I’ve never been challenged like this before, so that’s something I’m really happy I got to experience. It was difficult, but it made me better.

What is your favorite song on the album?

“Remote Control” is my favorite song on Donda. It captures you; it really just pulls you in as soon as it comes on.

Tell us more about your work in the fashion industry.

I’ve recently tapped into that field, and we’re in the grassroots stages right now. I’ve always been interested in fashion, so I got a team together and we designed a lot of new clothes. We recently had our first launch...the brand is called 29131, and it’s a brand for skateboarding clothes. It’s inspired by the clothes I grew up wearing (and still wear today). The collection is an ode to my childhood and my roots, a way to give back to everyone who raised me.

"The collection is an ode to my childhood and my roots, a way to give back to everyone who raised me."

Where can we buy from the 29131 brand?

Right now, it’s only available at pop-ups. I’m planning to wait until I have enough leverage to sell out instantly to do a live drop. I had a show on Labor Day weekend, and we sold some stuff from the collection there. We only brought 50 shirts, but we sold almost all of them, which is awesome. I want to keep doing pop-ups and building excitement for the brand before it’s easily available online. Online drops are good for when pieces are in really high demand, but pop-ups are a better way to get the brand’s name out there and familiarize people with the clothes.

How do you connect your love of fashion with your love of music?

Music and fashion go hand-in-hand. Oftentimes, artists are judged based on how they dress and present themselves. People sometimes make assumptions about music based on an artist’s clothes, and will probably give someone who looks really fly a listen before they give their time to someone who doesn’t. It’s so shallow, but your image is everything–especially in entertainment. I think the most important thing is to find your niche, what’s authentic to your brand. Fans can always tell when an artist isn’t being authentic.

What do you think the future of hip-hop music looks like?

I think the future of hip-hop is mantra music, where a song has just one word repeated over and over again.

What’s next for Digital Nas?

I’m working on two top-secret projects right now, but I’m also working on Playboi Carti’s Narcissist. I’m planning to drop my own album, DN 3, before the end of this year.

What can you tell us about your upcoming album, DN 3?

I’ve been on a journey of working on other peoples’ projects lately, so I haven’t been releasing my own music, but I’m excited to put this project out there. DN 3 is probably my best body of work in terms of my writing; every word matters when you make music. I learned how to write great music from observing Ye, and when I sat down to work on my own music, I saw a lot of growth in my work.

"Every word matters when you make music."

What inspired the project?

Digital Nas is my name, so “DN” is a nickname. I dropped “DN” and DN 2, so this is the final installation to that series before I put out a real, full album. As far as my legacy goes, this set of releases is like a warm-up for everything I want to bring to the music industry. I feel like the best way to grow and practice my craft is to work on projects and see how fans react to different things.

What is something you want more people to know about you?

I truly love people. Not everyone knows that I am a humanitarian, and I care deeply about what’s going on in the world and how we can create change. I’m a very strong believer in the idea that one person can change the world. I genuinely care about other humans, and want to see positive progress in the world.

"I’m a very strong believer in the idea that one person can change the world. I genuinely care about other humans, and want to see positive progress in the world."

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

DN 3 will drop before this year is over, so stay tuned!



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