In a world where female emcees are more notorious for their asses than their assets, Nello Luchi represents something more original and dynamic. “I walk, talk, sleep, eat, and do everything else Brooklyn. I don’t only live in Brooklyn, I was Born at Kings County Hospital in Bedford-Stuyvesant so I feel like it’s in my DNA. I was born in the 80s and raised in the 90s”, says Nello introducing herself to wider public.
“Because hip hop started in the era that I was born in, I feel like that was what I listened to for inspiration. I grew up listening to the greatest at the time, she talks her early inspirations. But it’s not enough. “Even though I was born in the golden era of rap, I was more influenced by 50s, 60s, and 70s blues, gospel and jazz music aka SOUL MUSIC”, she continues.
You can hear the inspirations she talks about in the project she released back in 2015. The mixtape called The Struggle Before The Glory reflects her journey; from struggles, family issues, friends relationships, survival and more.
“The people that influenced me are the artist that the 80s and 90s hip hop artist sampled. My grandmother used to play B.B. King, Al Green, Harold Melvin, Aretha Patti LaBelle etc. Those are some people who influenced my sound in hip hop the most”, she discusses her beginnings of her journey with music.
Nello’s mission is to introduce the audience to a ground-breaking blend mixed with soulful/alternative vibes and a fresh take on the rap game, which she did with her next project, Welcome: The Audio Movie. It features production from mainstay collaborators Swish Allnet [aka Phoenix Says], K’riem Scott, and Bonafide Beatz.
The Welcome EP is honest, brutal and strong material. For Nello, it’s all about remaining unyieldingly true to her own experience.
“Growing up in Bed Stuy was great and fun times, but the bad just leaves a stain on you. Losing friends and family at a young age makes you adapt to your environment quickly. From seeing someone killed in front of me at the age of 3 to dealing with my mom and brother shot as well as multiple people in my neighbourhood. It was like living in the jungle. At any given time or day something could go down”.
This new EP is something different from her first project. It’s more raw and sincere. “My families last name is Payne. On the song ‘Welcome’, I play with the words Payne and Pain. I feel like I make music to get it off my chest. I always felt like without music I would die. It saved me from being in the streets and doing dumb s**t”, she explains.
“I Remember” is an historical account of memories for Nello that molded her to be the person and more importantly the artist she is today. The song opens up with Nello reminiscing about Notorious B.I.G.’s funeral procession down his infamous St. James Place.
“I wasn’t at the event but that day I was on his block watching as they drove his body through our neighbourhood for the first time. It wasn’t sad or depressed energy. We were screaming: We love you BIG. I saw Little Cease and other Junior Mafia members yelling out of cars and limos. Lil’ Kim on the other hand was sad and crying with sades on, and I just kept looking at her and I felt that pain she felt at that moment”, she reminisces.
Luchi is also a cousin of R&B star Chrisette Michele. They collaborated on a track called “Love In The Afternoon” in 2013. Recently, Nello had an opportunity to share her talent with another R&B lady, Keyshia Cole. “I actually rapped for her at my friend Tyease house on Halsey Street in Bed Stuy. It was my homegirl Paris Phillips who brought Keyshia Cole, Zell Swag, and Lady Unique to Tye crib. Paris told me to spit and I did. They were all hella cool”.
Nello continues to stand out with her distinct sound and style. She leaves no room for comparisons to any of her peers. “I feel like we live in an era where females are rapping better than guys. I’ve heard more male mumble rappers than female this year. I feel like in the 80s and 90s we had a variety of female emcees in hip hop. The music industry shifts what you see and hear 1000 times on the radio. I don’t look at music business… I see artist as artist”.
The native New York rapper is more than ready to take over the scene even more this year. “I have been creative directing videos with my guy Taylor Flash who is one of the illest videographers/photographers in Brooklyn”, she shares.
“As far as music I will be releasing a video for my song ‘3 A.M’ which Taylor and I co-direct as well as a very dope artsey animated video for ‘Dreams’. I also have two projects I’m working on. One of them should be coming out in the summer and the other in the fall. You will also see me doing really dope creative work with a bunch of upcoming artist”, she adds at the end of the interview.
Words by Julia Borowczyk