Written by Calvin Schneider
Nym Lo is the epitome of New York hip hop. Raised by the streets of New York, Nym Lo has been around long enough to see the city change. When asked what New York means to him and his sound he stated, “New York is the epicenter of everything. Then more specifically, Harlem is the center of that. I’m heavily influenced by it. My look, my talk, my music, everything. My whole lifestyle.” We went to go visit his new billboard up on 125th St. and we can’t go five minutes without someone coming to say hello. He gets his name from his fashion sense. Always rocking Ralph Lauren Polo head to toe. If you ever see Nymlo, chances are 183rd isn’t far away. Friends for over 10 years, the duo has made countless classic records. In October 2019 they dropped their collab EP High Horse, and now they’re back for the second installment, High Horse 2! High Horse 2 sounds like new age Harlem and success. The project perfectly showcases 183rd and Nymlo’s energy and chemistry. 183rd’s old school samples with boom bap drums backing Nym Lo’s silky smooth witty bars. On High Horse 2, Nym makes you feel like you’re with him walking through the streets of Harlem, counting money, reflecting on career growth and change. The album is accompanied by high caliber features from frequent collaborators Benny The Butcher, Smoke Dza, Jay Worthy and OT The Real. We conducted this interview at Ruff Ryder’s Powerhouse studio, the same place where DMX, Jadakiss, Styles P, and more legendary rappers recorded. Nymlo also named DMX as a figure that he’s looked up to and one of his favorite rappers since he was a child. Go stream High Horse 2 and make sure you keep a look out for more new music from Nym Lo.
What are we you working on right now on?
To be determined. At this point, I just record to make sure my clip is always full.
How does how does it feel to be using a recording studio studio as legendary as the RuffRyders Powerhouse Studio itself?
Man, feel it feels wonderful just to be in that aura of success. Musically, the greats like this is the same place where DMX recorded, Jadakiss, Styles P, Sheek Louch. Shit is dope and it’s definitely inspiring.
Who are some OGs in rap that you look up to?
Definitely DMX. He was one of my favorites in junior high school like sixth grade. Of course Jay-Z, he’s the goat, that’s the pinnacle right there. LL Cool J. For me, one thing the main thing about L is that he was able to stand the test of time in his era and then transitioning into new eras, and singing songs with J-lo, shit like that. That was that was big to me because I look at longevity and I want that for myself. So he’s definitely one. Of course BIG, Pac as well.
Is champagne your drink of choice in terms of alcohol?
That’s my drink of choice in terms of drink, in terms of consuming of beverages. This champagne is my shit. This is my favorite joint, The Rich Veuve Clicquot.
Get this man a sponsor!
Please. What the fuck man. This is like eighty dollars a bottle man. I drink one or two of these shits every fucking day or every other day. When I’m not drinking champagne, I’m drinking water though.
What does New York mean to you and to your sound?
Everything. Even outside of music, New York is the epicenter of everything. Then more specifically, Harlem is the center of that. I’m heavily influenced by it. My look, my talk, my music, everything. My whole lifestyle. We from the big city. We from the money capital. Manhattan is the money capital of the fucking world I don’t give a fuck what nobody say. You get to see that, it just gives you a different push. I’m from Harlem. I’m from money avenue. That’s what it’s about. Getting to this fucking breesh.
Why do you call yourself the big horse?
Polo. The Polo connoisseur. Ralph Lauren connoisseur. That was just me separating myself from everybody else that does it as well. It’s different when you’re the biggest. I’m the biggest horse, the biggest horse that you’ve seen thus far.
Do you wear polo every day, you think?
No, not I think. There’s nothing else. My socks, my drawers, my hat. Then i’ll throw on some sneakers, these are b22 Diors. My shades are dior. I accent the Polo with other brands. But yeah polo every day 24/7 facts.
When did you adopt the name Nym Lo?
Once I realized I was wearing Polo a whole lot. Once I realized that was all that I was wearing. Then I met Thurston, out in Miami when I was doing my own thing. Introduced myself to him and told him that I be on the low. We kicked it, then I got my L’s my two L’s. Love and loyalty. After that it was over, big horse Nymlo.
How long have you been collaborating with 183rd?
I think steadily since 2012 maybe 2010. I’ve known him for a very very long time and we’ve been working for a very very long time. We talkin 10 plus years. That’s my dog. He’s one of the hottest producers out there, period. He’s definitely the hottest producer in this lane right now with what we got going on, and where the game and culture is starting to shift to.
You guys have done some tapes together in the past, do you think we’ll see another one?
Definitely going to see a couple new ones. The shit we’re doing right now. Definitely going to see more work from me and him. That’s bro. A lot of everything we got going on goes through him.
I saw you recently spent some time in Columbia. What was it like out there?
Columbia is cool. I was in Cali. It was equal parts cool and dangerous. We went to go check out the fucking trenches and the slums and all that. They were showing us where the war was happening with the Cali cartel and Pablo and all that shit. We drove over there and they like, yo, leave your watch in a car, take off your shades. He said Cali is the land of the thieves like they will take anything. It was cool because I watch Narcos. It was cool to actually be close to that and just see what was going on. He showed us little black boxes, on certain streets. when Cali was going to war with Pablo, how he was putting bombs in those boxes and just blowing shit up in a regular area. sometimes you got to fucking count your blessings. We think we got so bad over here but nah it’s crazy in them places.
You and Smoke Dza have also collaborated on some projects as well, do you think that we will see a follow up to the RFC tape?
Facts. You definitely will. To keep it 100 we already got it done. It’s just a matter of how it’s going to come out. He’s the same as 183rd, That’s bro. We grew up together, since I was like nine years old maybe ten. We always work together, I might have 100 songs with Dza.
What was one of your favorite songs to record off of that?
That one joint with Conway, It didn’t get to make the cut by the time it was put out. I got so crazy on that verse that was my favorite. That was my favorite show. Once he told me, it was going to be me, him, and Conway I’m like, I got to go crazy because everybody gonna hear this and he need to know. I play it in my car all the time.
What are some ways that you’ve seen the city and Harlem change over the years?
Gentrification definitely top of the list. When I was growing up in Harlem, there wasn’t no fucking tourists. There wasn’t even no people that wasn’t black or Spanish. White people start coming in and buying shit up and changing shit around. It wasn’t like that before. Used to be a multitude of purse snatching, muggings and robberies. Abandoned buildings empty lots, mattresses. The pictures and the movies you see, that’s how Harlem used to really look. But you adapt. You adapt with the time. Evolve and dissolve like my man Thurston Howell used to say.
How does it feel to be bringing back real hip hop to the front of the scene?
It feels great. When you stay in your lane there ain’t no fucking traffic. I waited my turn. I wasn’t jumping on every fad or on every sound. You got to let the people who actually do what they do, have what they do. I’m not into infringing on nobody’s shit, because I want to buy infringing on mine. If I know you can’t really rap, don’t put on no boom bap shit and just say some bullshit because niggas ain’t having that. For me it’s all about authenticity. I stick to what I do because that’s what I do for real. When you hear me rapping, know that I always been rapping like that. when I’m really rapping, I’m really just telling my story. I’m telling my life story. It don’t get no more authentic than that for me. It means everything that the game is coming back.
How much music do you think you’ve recorded during this pandemic?
Ha! I say this all the time, I might have recorded more music from the beginning of a pandemic to now than I’ve ever recorded in my entire life. Prior to the pandemic, I made a fucking promise to myself in a concerted effort that rap is what I want to do for a living. Prior to, I get so caught up in everything else and the music always take a back burner. When you getting money, I treated music like a hobby. I was like, no more hobby. At the end of the day, whatever money I was chasing, it ain’t nothing compared to what a nigga can make making fucking music. It don’t get better than that. No looking over your shoulder, none of that shit, And you chasing Ms. It’s already happened. I’ve been seeing the fruits of my labor. I’ve been blessed to start seeing that relatively shortly from when I made that decision.
What’s something that we can expect from Nym Lo in 2021?
You definitely can expect High Horse 2, produced by 183rd entirely. That’ll be out soon, I got some heavy hitters on there. I got a bunch of projects coming up. I got a couple joints with Benny (The Butcher). I got a few joints with Dave East thats the bro. Real New York shit. Like I said, I’m staying in my lane. I ain’t trying to infringe on nobody territory. I’m just doing my thing and separating myself while I do that.
I got a lot of projects coming out, I got a lot of projects done. I’ll probably put out maybe three or four more before the year is out. Keep elevating. You know, I bullshited with rap for a long time, you have no idea. Just in and out, one foot in, one foot out. Smoke cursing me out all the time like, yo just fucking rap! I was like yeah, ima rap later i’m counting money now. He was like, you know how much money you can make from rap? One day that shit just hit me in the head. I got joints. I got some shit with OT The Real, Jay worthy. I’m just scratching the surface. I’m talking about multiple songs with everybody I named.
Interview by Calvin Schneider