Nailah Blackman may be relatively unknown to most readers, but she hails from a soca dynasty that none can rival. Her grandfather Lord Shorty (Garfield Blackman), who went on to become Ras Shorty I, is credited as the creator of soca music. Today, Nailah is following in his footsteps.
Her track Work Out featuring Kes The Band was a massive hit during the 2017 Trinidad Carnival season and continues to light up the dancefloors; it also took her to the finals of the 2017 International Soca Monarch competition. Since Work Out she has released Baila Mami on the Parallel Riddim and Badishh with Jamaican dancehall star Shenseaa.
Soca News was curious to know what was next for this rising star so we dug around our Rolodex and found our way to her inbox, where we asked the following questions.
Tell us, in no more than 10 words, who is Nailah Blackman?
Nailah Blackman is a walking instrument.
Over the last year you have gone from someone the wider public may not have heard of to, “Have you heard that Nailah Blackman track?” How does this make you feel?
This makes me feel like my hard work is starting to pay off and that I am on the right track to success. I feel that paying attention solely to music from a young age was one of the best decisions that I have made. I didn’t always do so well in school, so music was always the thing. I used to be like “but I love music”. This makes me feel like I have been doing the right thing all along.
How would you describe your musical style?
I would describe my musical style as Caribbean/folk/soca/alternative. I am very alternative, very folksy, which I all fuse with my love for soca.
By which music genres are you influenced?
I am very influenced by Indian and African music all the indigenous music from the different countries like Nigeria, Senegal, India, Arabic music and jazz music. I am very influenced by jazz and alternative rock.
Do you think you are looked upon to maintain a certain standard, in the light of who your grandfather was?
Well of course. I definitely do need to maintain a certain standard in light of who my grandfather was, because if I came from greatness I could only and should only be great. I think it is very important for me to keep up the Blackman name as people who are known to bring forth good music and as people who always look for the positive light in everything and to evolve and change and create something that is always trendsetting and new. So, yes I do think I should keep a certain standard in light of who my grandfather was.
How do you deal with online attention from the public, such as comments on social media?
Well, I don’t respond to comments on social media. I believe that I have a fan base and supporters. My Nai Army and I believe that if anything is said that is untrue about me or that is wrong, I believe that my supporters and my followers are going to defend me. There will always be people who are against what I do and who will try to bring me down.
How do I deal with the attention?
Honestly, like half of it is really hilarious. I just like to think if I was this person behind this computer how I would feel about what I saw. I always like to put myself in the other person’s shoes so that I can understand where they came from when they made that comment or did something that may hurt me. I look to see if there is truth into whatever is said and if it’s something that I should work on. I like to learn from the public and the people looking on, because the fact that they are giving me attention means that they are showing some support in some way because it’s only going to make me more popular. I grab at it and I learn from it.
You have hooked up with super-producer Anson Soverall. How did that come about?
Well, Anson and I have been working for quite some time. 2017 would have been the first year that we started working so heavily after the track Work Out, which was released in December of 2016. I have been working with him going on three years now. We used to work on a lot more pop stuff before the soca stuff. We did a lot of pop, a lot of my stuff and different other stuff. We were trying to find a sound. Only when we took a grasp on to the soca is when we started working as heavily as we are now. I am doing my first releasing EP with him. I did two EPs before, but I did not release them.
I met Anson at MusicTT’s publishing conference. I knew about him from friends before and so did he from the videos I posted on social media. When we got the introduction at the conference, soon after I started going to the studio where I actually helped out with background vocals for songs for Machel, Preedy and Patrice Roberts and eventually we just started working more and more to the point where we are now.
Are you looking at working with other producers to help further your music career?
Of course. You cannot make music with one person and expect to grow. Anson is also my manager so he knows that I need to expand with the different talents that I work with when coming to producers. I look forward to collaborating with some of the best. I wanna work with Co-sign. There are producers out of Jamaica that I have been doing songs with as well and even some here in Trinidad. I am just looking forward to making as much good music as I can.
How did the collaboration with Jamaican artiste Shenseea come about, and are there any more collaborations in the pipeline? And if so, we’d love to know who with, if you can say!
Shenseea was booked for a show here in Trinidad and I was also on the cast. The promoter wanted her to do the radio tour to promote the show, this being her first time in Trinidad, and he wanted me to come along with her. Anson thought that it doesn’t make any sense that you gonna do a radio tour with Shenseea if you not promoting a song. Like you gonna waste all that promotion for a party that is just gonna pass. That day that the promoter called we actually just did the first demo of Badishh and we were like yo we have to get her on this track. The promoter linked it and as soon as she came down we went to the studio and recorded. Next day we were shooting the video in Tobago for Great Fete Weekend. We did promotions while she was here. We played the song on radio as a demo version. Then I flew to Jamaica the next week we finished the video and the next week we released it. So that’s how that came about. Yes, there other collaborations for 2018 with more Jamaican artistes coming and Trinidad artistes for Carnival possibly, but I am not allowed to say. I believe that I should let the music speak for itself so when it’s happening, you will know.
We’ve heard Badishh, released for the 2018 Trinidad Carnival season. What else can we look forward to?
Well, I am dropping my EP entitled Sokah, S-O-K-A-H. It is my brand, the name of my band and it’s a movement really. Sokah is to signify the unity and patriotism of Trinidad and Tobago and I really want to enforce this in the youths of this country. I believe that we don’t have the level of patriotism that we should have within us and I believe this is so because we are divided. I want to bring forth unity with this EP. It is a visual EP that will be released for my birthday on 2 December. Three songs on that EP are gonna take me throughout the Carnival season. One of the songs I will be releasing at the end of November, which is called SOKAH, the title track for the EP, and another entitled Oh Lawd Oye that is yet to come. I just finished shooting the music video for that. There will be much more, I have songs on riddims as well.