Above The Clouds - Nappi Devi
Detroit's busy hip-hop scene introduced some of the most legendary names in rap history to the world, a productive factory that generates a hall of Famers like Eminem, J Dilla, and Royce, The 5.9 every few years. While you think about the Motor-City scene, Nappi Devi is not the first name that jumps to mind, however, same as the incredible artists mentioned above, he’s got unusual, creative, and innovative methods to tell his story through his music, and is on his way to join that list.
By Dean Ace
Photographed by Ryan Detroit
The Detroit native rapper, singer and songwriter Nappi Devi, is first & foremost an artist. His dedication to his craft is admirable as he put all of his efforts into making his art. His creative ability to mix several genres, helps him establish himself as a unique artist with a style that differs from others, and allows him to cleverly blend all the feelings on the emotional spectrum and express them flawlessly. Smoothly switching between rapping and singing and keeping himself honest even at the price of being vulnerable are just some of the qualities he Devi possesses.
Nappi Devi Started making music when he was in high school, as part of a group called "Last Tribe". Just like other creatives, the 24 years old artist is experiencing a constant struggle. The endless paradox between fulfilling your dreams & getting paid in a job just to pay bills and survive. Yet as it seems like Nappi Devi has the courage it takes to make the decision to put all of his efforts into his music and work his way towards making it pay off. As it seems so far, Nappi Devi is going in the right direction.
Devi is a hybrid artist who tries to establish himself as a versatile creator by experimenting with many genres and music styles, such as jazz, soul, R&B, and even combining elements of rock. Devi tends to sing and rap in his songs, doing both skillfully, using and moving between them so smoothly and cleanly through his tracks. The genre-blending and usage of singing and rapping is somehow reminiscent of enormous artists like Drake and Miguel, yet, while considering his flow and rich voice, he sounds a bit like Denzel and IDK. This skill of resembling artists from two edges of the Hip-Hop spectrum is distinctive and marks him as a versatile artist, one whose music remains unexpected.
When we examine the versatility in his works, it's clear to the ear that it is one of Devi's most special expertise; in each song, he can bring new shade and showcase new quality in his music. Starting at the diverse beat selection ranging from melodic, jazzy, mellow, and dark productions like in 'Namaste' and 'Muffin' alongside more upbeat and even Traps productions, such as 'New Cape.' Devi is adapting himself to the sound and manages to naturally float on any of these production styles.
The frequent shifts from R&B to aggressive rap, and his musical diversity are two things that Devi interestingly explains from the perspective of his inspirations and his desire to express himself with an alter-ego." I've always been versatile, R&B honestly was my fast love, growing up listening to MJ, Usher, Chris Brown, Musiq Soul Child, Erykah Badu, etc. I didn't get more into Hip-Hop/ Rap till I was about 13. Nappi is my alter ego, aggressive, straightforward, confident side. While Devi is more passive, open-minded, & expressive."
Devi is revealed as an all-around artist, not only by his sound and production but also by his flow, showing he is an exceptional musician. Devi switches flows between and within tracks, which makes him unexpected in terms of what he will provide in each song, fitting his flow for each part in the music & staying dynamic. In addition to the wide range of flows Devi has in his pocket, he adds multiple voice tones and deliveries that frequently, carried by the emotions he expresses and the specific atmosphere he strives to create. This repetitive pattern of switching flows, voices, and deliveries he displayed in most of his tracks. While the chorus features more melodic tones, the verses, and the bridges lend by his emotional and fully energetic voice, in some of his tracks, it is hard to believe that there are no features, and he sounds like an orchestra.
Devi's songs have a unique structure, which contains literary aspects; by using short sections and with them, he creates one greater whole, same as an author using prolog and epilogue in his stories. He intelligently takes advantage of this song-building method and his wide range of voices to add layers to it and adjust the climax accurately to the moment he is exploding with his delivery. This pattern is typical for Devi's works and indicates his artistic vision, deeper and more profound than the sound he chose or the words he raps.
Another aspect of Devi's arsenal, which helps figure out how talented he is, is related to his outstanding lyrical ability and proves why less is sometimes more. With his lyrics Devi reflects on his private experience and reality wisely and in a sophisticated way. By keeping it simple, without using many wordplays and complex references, Devi brings in his projects, honest lyrics, not afraid of exposing his demons and fears, and shares the listeners with the pain, obstacles, and challenges he copes with in life. Despite his profound lyrics, Devi stays optimistic, showing others how to overcome the lows of life, and using the life lessons he earned to inspire them to fight their battles healthily. These lyrics he delivers strictly, spitting his bars sharply, not trying to compromise, and directly targeting the issues he chooses to deal with in his songs.
With all the elements of Devi's music that dissect here, it is wondrous he doesn't get the recognition he deserves; For now, Nappi Devi remains a relatively unknown artist but one who’s building his fanbase from grass roots and is slowly getting more & more attention. Yet, if he keeps persisting, polishing his skills, and staying in his own true & unique path, there’s no force on earth that could stop him from rising to the place he deserves and belongs.