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Grand Falls-Windsor-born hip hop artist making big moves

Grand Falls-Windsor native Nigel Lewis (left) had the opportunity of a lifetime to record an original track with Juno Award-winning hip hop artist Luke Boyd, better known as Classified.
Grand Falls-Windsor native Nigel Lewis (left) had the opportunity of a lifetime to record an original track with Juno Award-winning hip hop artist Luke Boyd, better known as Classified. - Submitted

ST. JOHN’S, NL – He was born and raised in Grand Falls-Windsor, watched his heroes perform at the Salmon Festival, and told his friends he'd be working with those artists someday.

Nigel Lewis, also known by his stage name Nasty, recently made his dream into reality. He was fortunate enough to record one of his original tracks with one of Canada's top hip hop artists and record producers, Luke Boyd, better known as Classified, at the Juno Award winner's home studio in Enfield, Nova Scotia.

Lewis says it took years of hard work and networking to get him into the same room as one of Canada's best, and that opportunity was granted to him over the course of 2017.

“It happened through a friend of a friend. I was speaking to music directors and trying to get a feel for what kind of songs would be played on commercial radio,” Lewis said. “They kept saying it was good but it wouldn't work for them, and eventually someone said, 'we may have someone you can talk to up in Halifax,' and that ended up being Marc Perry and he used to work for EMI.”

EMI is a now-defunct music label under Universal Music. However, this was the spark that lit the fuse for Lewis, and over the course of some emails and chatting about music, he pitched himself to Perry to see if he could potentially get his music in front of Classified.

“Somehow Classified came up, and he said ‘I know Luke very well,’” Lewis said. “So I was like, I'd love to work with him. This is something I talked about back when I was 17. When I started this when I was a teen I told the boys around me that one day I'll work with Class.”

Sure enough, Classified gave the thumbs up to Lewis, and Perry put them both in touch to get started in the studio.

“The high was crazy. Because no one else has done that from here,” Lewis said. “It's one of those moments where you speak it into existence. I remember I said I would do that, and then it was actually going to happen. So we spoke through email and arranged a date and I flew up there and I went to his house.”

It was all business for Lewis the moment he set foot inside the studio with one of Canada's biggest names in the hip hop game.

“I remember calling him when I got there and he came outside and I was like, man this is crazy. I remember watching him back in 2007, he was performing at Salmon Fest in my town in Grand Falls and then I'm literally here with him in the studio,” he said. “So that moment was there but then I just quickly shut that down and it was down to business, let's get to work.”

Living in St. John's for the last seven years, Lewis says he first put pen to paper when he was 17 years old in Grand Fall-Windsor.

“When I was younger as a teen I remember I used to be listening to raps, a lot of Eminem, and I'd try to rap back his rap,” Lewis said. “I found myself being able to flow, and once I figured out how to flow like on a beat I was like, let me try to actually do this with my own lyrics.”

The process has worked for him, and Lewis has made steps in the right direction towards pursuing music as a full-time career.

“I feel I have more up my sleeve,” he said. “Perception is a lot and if you're working with artists that are established, like a multi-platinum selling artist in hip hop and he's known and respected, then people realize you're not playing around.”

Nasty's new single Up'n Away featuring DJ IV, produced by Classified, was released on Feb. 17, and music fans can listen to it through Nasty on YouTube and on Facebook at Nasty709.

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