The Salt Lake hip-hop scene is alive and growing. Come to this month’s SLUG Localized to see two of the most experienced artists in the scene: Snicks and Nostalgic90s, along with opener PrettyboionDaBlock. The event will take place on July 21 at 7 p.m. at Urban Lounge (tickets are $5). SLUG Localized is sponsored by Uinta Brewing and Riso Geist.
Nostalgic90s, the hip-hop duo of cousins APaullo and LaneCobain3, do more than just make music. “I design clothes, I paint, I play instruments. It’s more of two artists syncing together creatively than two rappers sitting in a room thinking about what we’re gonna do to this beat,” Cobain3 says. Some of their many influences include Lil Wayne, OutKast and Q-Tip, and for singers, Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson.
The duo is originally from North Carolina and first started making music together about 10 years ago. Growing up, APaullo was influenced by different kinds of music from his family. “I remember riding with my grandma [and] listening to oldies and old school music, from R&B to blues and rap. I remember when my pops bought me my first CD with cussing in it, Outkast’s Stankonia,” he says. Cobain3 says his background and upbringing in North Carolina provided windows of artistic expression through the music he listened to and the television he watched. “Being from North Carolina, there’s this confidence embedded in you to be the best there is while proving you’re just another individual maneuvering through their 24 hours with style,” Cobain3 says.
“I feel as much as other genres of music are known and heard here in Salt Lake, hip-hop and rap deserve that same recognition. [There’s] a lot of overlooked talent here.”
After a series of moves between California, Salt Lake and North Carolina across the 2010s, Nostalgic90s returned to Salt Lake in 2016 after Cobain3’s mother passed. Cobain3 believes that’s what makes Nostalgic90s unique as an artist in the Salt Lake scene is being from North Carolina, which influences how they make music. “[North Carolina’s] culture, the southern vibe, is unique, from the food spots to the basketball courts to the arenas. It’s all about taking advantage of a moment in style while understanding life has no rules, just consequences, and that’s the approach we bring to any beat,” Cobain3 says.
In their songs, the duo rap about everyday life in a style that draws on real experiences, but embraces humor as well. “I can give you some negative shit, but in a way where it makes you go, ‘Ah, that’s pretty funny’,” Cobain3 says. The inspiration for this style of lyricism comes from comedians. “Smart comedians have a way of storytelling or relaying information where it makes you go, ‘Haha damn, that’s true,’ but also reflect,” Cobain3 says. When talking about their creative process, the duo liken it to basketball, where you take what the defense is giving you. In this case, the defense is whatever the vibe of the beat makes them feel and want to talk about. “You wanna find the right beat that has the same tone as what we’re rapping about, [as well as] the mood and the emotion you’re feeling at that time,” APaullo says.
“Being from North Carolina, there’s this confidence embedded in you to be the best there is while proving you’re just another individual maneuvering through their 24 hours with style,” Cobain3 says.
Having grown up in a hip-hop scene that’s more developed and is the home of popular artists such as J. Cole and DaBaby, the duo believes that in order to grow the hip-hop scene in Salt Lake, there needs to be more support given to the artists. “There’s a support system for every genre in the city except the hip-hop scene. The hip-hop scene is handed the little venues or the venues no one really wants to go to regardless of who’s playing,” Cobain3 says. The two say this gatekeeping happens with venues in Salt Lake because they think the image or culture isn’t right. APaullo says, “I feel as much as other genres of music are known and heard here in Salt Lake, hip-hop and rap deserve that same recognition. [There’s] a lot of overlooked talent here.”
Looking forward, Nostalgic90s are working on two projects right now, one called Channel 99, which they describe as more melodic and fun and a reflection of their time as kids surfing TiVo channels. “I feel we can bring a lot of talent and have what it takes to be known in Salt Lake more,” APaullo says.