Five years ago, unknown artist Nu3ra Ness performed at The National, the sold-out venue’s crowd were in awe of the up and coming hip hop performer, loving every bar from him.
At least that is what Nu3ra Ness (pronounced New Era) thought until he turned around and saw Future standing behind him and realized that’s who the crowd was really cheering for.
That small taste of being in the spotlight drove Nu3ra Ness’ hunger to go after his a career in music.
That was the first time we were in front a big ass crowd, the National was packed and I thought we were killing this shit,” said Nu3ra. “So we basically got kicked off stage, It was an experience…something to brag about.”
The 27-year-old, whose real name is Chris Mattison, is a native of Fredericksburg, and fell in love with hip-hop at the age of nine. When it comes to his style, Mattison doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into any particular style of rap.
“Every time I get interviewed somebody asks me like, ‘What kind of hip-hop do you make’ and they try to put me into a category from that. Nu3ra is just basically like new everything, new style,” said Mattison.
At the beginning of this year, Mattison put out the album Success Story, which is the second in his planned trilogy. The finale, Successful, is slated to drop next spring.
“Successful is going to be a culmination of what I thought it(success) was, what I went through, what I learned and it’s like a polished version of all of that,” he said.
Mattison’s style is extremely flexible as he can throw out a few club bangers such as his upcoming single “Issues”, which you can check out a snippet below.
But the hip hop artist and songwriter also tackles the heavier issues, and even get political with songs like “Black People”. The track is a love letter to the Black community to rise above the systematic racism and stereotypes that attempts to turn black people against themselves.
His single, “Voicemail”, which also has a music video, is about finding and trying to navigate his success. He cleverly inserts voicemails into the track of people trying to contact him for interviews and link with him to add to emphasize the message.
Mattison takes a unique approach to rapping, writing a song with whatever he is feeling at the moment. It isn’t quite Lil Wayne’s off-the-dome style, but it is practically the writing equivalent of it. According to the artist, his raw approach to song making keeps the essence of his original message intact.
“I usually don’t do a lot of revision on a song because when I go back to it I’m now trying to make it something else than what it was when I wrote it originally,” said Mattison.
Growing up in Fredericksburg, Mattison had a different mindset – a hustler’s mindset – which isn’t how he see’s RVA’s hip-hop culture after living here for the past four years.
“Fredericksburg is so small of a city that people will jump on the opportunity to meet somebody new,” the rapper said.
The cliquish nature of RVA’s hip-hop scene is why the Fredericksburg artist plays his cards close to his chest.
“I feel artists, where I’m from, have a better sense of the music business while Richmond artists have much better music,” said Mattison.
Don’t take this as a complete diss to the local scene as he has a few tracks he is cooking up with, local artists, Noah-O and Radio B.
Be on the lookout for an upcoming video from the artist for the track“Believe”, the lead single off the album. Nu3ra NESS will also be headed out on tour with fellow rappers Johnny Ciggs and Reppa Ton within the next month. You can also catch him on his solo tour in the winter featuring songs from the upcoming Successful.
In the meantime, you can catch Nu3ra Ness this Friday, at Black Liquid’s last Face Melt Friday of the year at Strange Matter performing alongside a slew of other local hip hop artists. Show 9pm.
Photo Credit: Sean King