Nanci was born in Baltimore, MD but raised in San Diego, CA where she learned to sing before she learned to speak. At age eight, she joined her church choir and was soon singing her own solo’s. She continued to develop her chops in performing arts, choir and drama in junior and high school and found an undying love for hip-hop before flying south to study in Atlanta, GA at Clark Atlanta University. Atlanta birthed the backpack soul experience. It was there that Lil Nanci fused the passionate social commentary of an emcee with the enchanting, melodic vocals of a soul singer. Her sonic trail continued on to Virginia where local producers including Rapstafunkian helped her find her niche. Her refreshing, introspective, sassy and soulful music is an alternative to the dumbed-down, oversexed music the masses are presented with.
Lil Nanci recently opened up for the legend KRS-One last week and after listening to her material I can see why. She is definitely on track to make a name and niche for herself as the Queen of Backpack Soul. I recently asked Nanci a few questions to get more familiar with her as an artist.
IG: Where did the title Queen of Backpack Soul come from?
LN: I'm a lil hip hopper/ backpacker at heart. I come from the roots and 4 pillars of hip hop. A swirl of emceeing, breakdancing, graffiti and djing. Backpacking stems from the emcee, DJ etc. mobbing through the streets with their music, notepad, and everyday necessities in tow. Queen of hip hop soul goes to Mary j. I'm not so much "neo-soul" so backpack soul was original and hits the nail on the head. I'm an emcee at heart blessed with a melodic voice.
IG:What inspires you to write?
LN:Writing is my autobiographical journal. From internal struggles, to social issues, to poking fun at whack rappers and loose women. It all comes from within. The biggest spark of inspiration comes from the beats. The beats tell me the mood, melody and what to talk about.
IG:Who are your biggest influences?
LN:God and hip hop. Producers like JDilla. As far as artists I can ramble off Motown and old school artists with the best of them. Mariah Carey was my secret vocal coach, but I like quirky things. I adore Sade, Amel Larriex, Portishead and Esthero. Unique artists with beautiful voices and no boundaries.
IG:What is your dream collaboration?
LN:Any symphony or Erykah Badu and Mos Def with the Roots band in the background.
IG:Who is in your Top 5?
LN:In no particular order... Nas, Mos Def, Rakim, Jay Z, and KRS-One
IG:What message do you want to give to young women?
LN:Know your silent power. Intellect, poise, grace and mystery are far more appealing than having your goodies on display. Observe more than you speak. It's okay to be smart and fully clothed lol. You want intrigued attention over sexual attention. Love yourself above all else. Not in a selfish, conceited way. You have to live with yourself forever so why not strive to be a quality person?
IG:What do you want people to take away when they listen to your music?
LN:Good energy and a new perspective. To feel refreshed like "Finally some good music". Its okay to think and feel. Hopefully it sparks conversation.
IG:What can I expect from you in the future?
LN:Still coming down off the high of opening for KRS One at the Norva.
A lil 7 minute teaser called "Siete" is available at SoundCloud.com/lilnanci/siete
Putting the final touches on my new album tentatively titled 'N as in Nanci'. I'm plotting man. It's one thing to give my existing fans a project. I need to reach those unfamiliar. More social presence, more radio presence. I have this vision of breaking the ice in the 757 by singing the national anthem at an event. Last but not least have to get this mug on television. God didn't bless me with this package and voice for no reason ;)
More to come...
Watch Lil Nanci’s video My Life and listen her on Sound cloud https://soundcloud.com/lilnanci/