Nathan Jennings stands in his bedroom, which doubles as his recording studio, and practices one of the tracks he’s been working on. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

Chilliwack’s Nathan Jennings heads to Toronto for national rap competition

Hosted by Coast 2 Coast Live, the contest may lead Jennings to $50,000 and a record deal

With his British accent, dark slicked-back hair, nose ring, torn black jeans, and black T-shirt paired with a long suit jacket, it’s no surprise to find music equipment in Nathan Jennings’ bedroom. But what is unexpected is the music that comes out of the teen’s mouth when he steps up to the mic.

With a sound that brings to mind Eminem’s earlier tracks, Jennings uses clever word play and rhymes to write lyrics for beat tracks he gets online.

READ MORE: It’s rap night in Chilliwack Thursday

“I write about my experiences, or about sticking it to the man,” says the teen while sitting in his living room. “But usually just about how I’m feeling that day.”

Originally from Ilkeston, England, Jennings and his family moved to Canada in 2008 when his father got work on our side of the pond. However, they didn’t land in Chilliwack until about 2009.

Always a creative individual, Jennings says he spent his time in Chilliwack’s public education system focusing on enhancing his natural abilities.

“I used to play violin. (In school) I was in choirs, plays, and dance shows … but rap’s always been a passion of mine.”

So when a sponsored Facebook ad popped up in his feed mid-September seeking submissions for a national rap competition hosted by Coast 2 Coast Live in Ontario, Jennings said he took the plunge and sent in Arrogant, a rap song he’d only just finished.

READ MORE: Calling all optimists: Chilliwack’s Optimist Club hosts its second annual songwriting competition

It was about a week later when Jennings says he opened his email to find their response to his submission: they liked what they heard and he was invited to perform on Nov. 29 in Toronto’s Revival Bar.

“I was pretty surprised I heard back at all,” said the young rapper, who uses N Jay as his stage name. “I’ve heard they’re hard to get a hold of and a lot of people never hear back from them.

“I’ve played guitar at a Chiefs game, but I’ve never performed on stage for hundreds of people, so this is really exciting,” continued Jennings.

Flying into Toronto on the 28th with his dad, and leaving on the 30th, Jennings says his trip to Tdot will be quite a whirlwind tour, but hopes it’s the stepping stone to putting him on the musical map.

“There aren’t a lot of Canadian rappers, most are from the USA … but maybe this can be my start.”

(WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE)

Each month in cities across the globe, Coast 2 Coast Live, a USA-based entertainment company, hosts musical competitions for amateur performers: the winner of each of these events is then invited to the annual Coast 2 Coast Live Convention in Miami, which culminates in an epic Worldwide Championship concert where all the local winners from the previous year compete once again, but this time it’s for $50,000 and a record deal.

“If I won, I’d continue to make music, but maybe I’d use that money for education to better my career,” explained Jennings.

READ MORE: Spartans steamrolled by red-hot Giants

But for right now, Jennings says he’s focusing at the task at hand, which is winning over Toronto with his latest track, The Man.

And while a Google search of Coast 2 Coast Live quick locates its website and listings of their events held worldwide, it also reveals several accusations that the entertainment company isn’t entirely on the up and up. That said, they are one of the leading producers of digital mixed tapes, and have created a niche for themselves in the industry.

“Besides,” said Jennings, “this is an investment in myself. Scam or not, that’s to be seen firsthand, but I’ll just be happy to have had the experience.

“But no matter what, there’ll still be an audience and me, (and I’ll be) practising, building my courage and learning the industry,” said the teen proudly.

Regardless of the outcome in Toronto next month, Jennings says he’s going to continue moving forward in his dream to be a signed rapper, with his next big step being the making of a music video for The Man.

And “I’ll (keep) writing and singing and maybe start producing—making my own beats and music—so other rappers can use it, too … because it’s all about collaborating with people,” he said.

For more information about his music, or to contact Nathan, please email him at DimeIndustries@hotmail.com.


@SarahGawdin
Sarah.Gawdin@theprogress.com

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Nathan Jennings is heading to Toronto later this month to compete for his chance at the Coast 2 Coast World Championships, which comes with a $50,000 grand prize and record deal. (Sarah Gawdin/The Progress)

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