There’s a short list of big names that hail from Vallejo, California. You have the late Mac Dre—one of the most influential artists to ever come out of the Bay—and E-40, a rap legend who introduced a whole new vernacular to the masses and has maintained a career that spans decades. And then you have NEF The Pharaoh. He’s in pretty good company, to say the least.
At just 22, the “Big Tymin” rapper has already toured the world, signed a record deal, collaborated with multiple brands, and has rubbed elbows with some of the greats. To think this all began with just a pair of regional hits. NEF hasn’t even scored his “breakout” smash yet, but suffice to say, he has more under his belt than some of his peers who already have that hit.
The young star constantly flashes his ear-to-ear grin; truly enjoying every moment this journey has brought him thus far. As he flails his dreads around while dancing on stage with moves that I’m not even sure have a name, NEF can make even the coolest of concert-goers turn up with him, and that’s a talent that not many can boast. This guy is a star.
Following a headlining show in Los Angeles, I met up with NEF to discuss his trajectory thus far and how he’s gotten to where he is. At one point, he excuses himself to the bathroom, but he’s sure to keep the door open while doing so.
“I can’t wait until I’m to the point where like, Rolling Stone is asking for fun facts about me that no one knows,” he tells me, as I sit on the other side of the wall. Of course, he is looking for me to ask why, so I curiously oblige.
“Like, no one knows that I have to use the bathroom with the door open because I’m afraid of being boxed in. It’s real, that’s real,” he says with a laugh. “I can’t wait until I can let people know stuff like that.”
You’re welcome, NEF.