naya ali #MONTREAL

When it comes to the Montreal hip hop scene, Ethiopian born Naya Ali, readily comes to mind. Bursting onto the scene last year with her explosive debut single Ra Ra, this rising singer/rapper has been having her best year yet! Dropping fire tracks back to back she recently unveiled her latest single ‘Get it Right’ — an addictive anthem to breaking free and owning yourself. Speaking about the inspiration for her ‘Get It Right’ video, Naya Ali says, “The visuals are about breaking free from the ‘sunken place’. I felt like I was trapped for so long in a state of mind that had me forget who I really was, so I had to break free and escape by killing a part of myself that I had outgrown. The dark and symbolic visual is a Kanye-esque canvas, inspired by Stanley Kubrick meets Jordan Peele”.

Championed by the likes of Vice, Complex, Highsnobiety, Apple Music and featured on Spotify Canada's top playlists, Naya is the first female rapper and the only anglo rapper from Quebec to perform at the renowned Osheaga Festival, which is being headlined by Childish Gambino and Janelle Monae. This young hip hop star is rapidly rising and doesn’t disappoint!

In this episode, we catch up with Naya and talk about her inspirations, her favorite places in Montreal, representation and how she believes poutine is overrated.

what is get it right about?

The song is about breaking free and finding my freedom to take control of my life. It’s kind of like a warm up into the game too - it’s very versatile, it’s very me coming in easy, it’s kind of me breaking the chain, and truly stepping into my authority. 

give me the first 3 words that comes to mind about this song?

Freedom, power, grit

Do you remember what it was like being on stage for the first time?

It was a while ago - I started music a long time ago, I think I was like 19 or 20. It was great! A little nerve wracking but I felt like I was at home. 

looking back, do you have any advice for yourself?

Any advice that I would give myself back then would be just to trust yourself. That’s the number one thing. 

you were born in ethiopia, but raised in Montreal, how has that influenced your work?

I grew up here so it made me the person that I am today. It’s my hometown - there’s this love I have for this city that’s going to be with me anywhere in the world that I go. Being a musician in Montreal for me, in my experience, has been super great. There’s this budding vibe that hip hop is really taking its place in the city, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch and be apart of. It’s been very welcoming to me. I did Osheaga this year and it was just great things from the city. I can’t wait for hip hop and rap to take a bigger place on the world scale. 

What’s something about Montreal that most people might not know?

It’s one of the greatest cities in the world and it’s about time that people know that. 

Where are some of your favorite places in Montreal?

For me, it’s mostly about the people. St. Laurent street is amazing. St. Henri is pretty dope. Old Port is good for touristy stuff. 

What’s something you can’t miss out on in Montreal?

Honestly, the food! There’s a lot of great restaurants here and some really cool places to eat at. 

Is poutine under or overrated?

For me, overrated. I can’t lie, I’m not a poutine fan. Don’t hate me!

What do you do when you’re by yourself?

I like alone time. I’m an intro-extrovert, so when I need to be on, I’m on, but I like to recharge and be by myself. It’s my moment to regain my energy. I like to just chill and meditate a little bit and clear my mind and think about things. 

Where should Beatbites go next?

I think you guys should go to Johannesburg. 

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