It’s human to not want to feel alone. Every day on some level (subconscious or non) we’re searching for someone who understands our journey and what we’re going through, even if we’re unable to put it into words ourselves. Mainstream rap music is overrun with too many personalities that talk at you, rather than to you and with you. Perhaps that’s what drew us to our latest interview subject.
Enter Nyck Caution, the sole white rapper in the world-famous Pro Era collective. Aside from being a contender for the 2016 XXL Freshman Class, Caution‘s music speaks to the youth of the world that’s desperately seeking for a better tomorrow, even if that utopia only exists in their mind or in their headphones. This summer looks incredibly promising for the Brooklyn kid, who also just turned 22 in January. Hip-hop fans across the country will be able to check out Nyck Caution on tour with Cam’ron on The Smoker’s Club Tour, which also features Smoke DZA, The Underachievers, G-Herbo, and a few more.
In our interview, we got Nyck to dish out his recipe for success in the studio, the moment he realized his own potential, and how his spirituality shaped his latest project, Disguise The Limit, available for streaming on Soundcloud.
Read on, and see all dates for The Smokers Club Tour below.
LIT: In your latest video “Basin,” you wake up in the woods, and then watch yourself on stage performing. Can you explain the concept of that music video, and “Church?” How much influence do you have on the direction of your videos?
NC: I co-directed “Church” [with Nathan R. Smith]. The concept was kind of me breaking away from routine and negativity. On “Basin,” I watch myself performing, but I wanted the video to be like you’re not sure what you’re seeing. It’s up to [the viewer] to find meaning in the video.
LIT: Both of the videos have these snow and winter shots in them. Is that a theme you were trying to express? And were you not cold as hell with no jacket on making “Church?”
NC: [laughs] Yeah, nah it was cold as shit. There wasn’t really any symbolism with the winter scenes in the two videos. I was born in January, though, but I wasn’t going for any specific symbolism there.
LIT: Do you feel as though you’re still searching for your own inner peace even now, while in the public eye? Your “Inspire the escape” mantra is a refreshing vision to hear from a young artist as yourself. Your music and visuals also seem to have an element of spirituality/search for inner peace as a recurring theme.
NC: I definitely have to keep God at the forefront of everything I do. I find more and more about myself the more I write and record. When I first started rapping, of course it was the bitches and the lifestyle I wanted. But now, I have more reasons to do what I do. I have to [reach] these people.
LIT: You just called something to mind with your last sentence. Do you do work with the youth in your community at all?
NC: Not as much as I would like to since we started the tour project, but I am in the process of making plans to go back to my old high school and speak to the students there.
LIT: What do the people from your hometown, or old friends from school think about your success?
NC: Well, most of my high school friends are Pro Era. For everyone else, they’re generally happy for me. I’m always around, I’m always home and seeing everybody. They’re really hoping that we can bring [our success] further, but it’s been dope, the reception.
LIT: In the past, you spoke about when you felt like you were equipped enough, at least lyrically, to run with the Pro-Era crew. Talk about how important it is for one to realize their own greatness and to step out of their shell.
NC: Yeah, you really need that. It’s important to reach out to other people, you know? Play something for somebody and get some feedback. You gotta just try. Get encouragement, too. Encouragement is so powerful, and actually really helps people. The more you do, more people will feel what you’re doing.
LIT: You’re on a tour with such a well-rounded rap lineup. We’ve listened to you tell stories on a plethora of different types of beats. What do you look for in production?
NC: It has to sound nice, and it depends on the mood I’m in. Or, sometimes it can put me into a mood. I like synths; I just like a really good sound. That’s why I like working with Kirk [Knight] so much. He doesn’t make beats like I’ve ever heard. When I’m in the studio, I’ll have guitars, all that.
LIT: Nothing beats the sound quality you get from live instruments.
LIT: How do you know the perfect beat to match with what story you’re telling? It’s like even when you’re on a trap beat, you’re still saying something meaningful, in our opinion.
NC: We bounce beats off of people and get different perspectives a lot…
LIT: Do you ever sing, or try things in the studio that sometimes people are like “Nah, dog…let’s try something else?”
NC: Yeah, always. [laughs] I work with my engineer a lot, too. You never know when you might make something crazy. There’s always a lot of heads in the studio, but I don’t always like too many people around. We do freestyles and gravy shit. You just gotta be free in the studio, man. You never know what you’re going to make.
LIT: How has traveling the world changed your perspective on life?
NC: It’s the best part of all of this; it’s crazy. I’ve always been about people. Now, I’m in all these different places and learning words and about different cultures. People are the same everywhere you go. There’s different customs, but it’s crazy how cool people have been.
LIT: Before we go, at 22, you’ve already accomplished so much in life. Can you give us 3 tips on how not to act around celebrities?
NC: First, don’t have your phone camera all out trying to sneak pictures of them. Second, if you’re there to chill, then just chill! [laughs] Don’t treat them like a celebrity. They’re just normal people, so you don’t have to do all that extra shit. Third, if you’re hanging out, don’t play their music. Like unless everyone is really asking for it, treat the situation regular and just listen to whatever you’d normally play.
04-20 New York, NY – BB King’s (just Cam’ron, and special guests)
05-31 Vancouver, British Columbia – Vogue Theater
06-01 Portland, OR – Crystal Ballroom
06-02 Seattle, WA – Showbox at the Market
06-04 San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
06-05 Los Angeles, CA – Club Nokia
06-08 Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory
06-09 San Diego, CA – North Park Observatory
06-12 Phoenix, AZ – Livewire
06-15 Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex
06-17 Denver, CO – Cervantes Ballroom
06-18 Albuquerque, NM – Sunshine Theater
06-19 El Paso, TX – Tricky Falls
06-23 Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey
06-25 St. Louis, MO – The Ready Room
06-26 Lawrence, KS – The Granada
06-27 Minneapolis, MN – Sky Theater
06-29 Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall
06-30 Columbus, OH – Park Street Saloon
07-01 Cleveland, OH – Agora Theater
07-05 Montréal, Québec – Petit Olympia (no Underachievers)
07-06 Boston, MA – House of Blues
07-08 Philadelphia, PA – TLA
07-09 New York City, New York – Playstation Theater
07-10 Washington, D.C. – The Fillmore
07-12 Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live
07-13 Richmond, VA – The National
07-14 Norfolk, VA – The NorVa
Special thanks to Kerry Smalls, Pro Era, Nyck Caution, and The Chamber Group.