Nav is a musical polymath. He raps, sings, produces, designs, engineers, and even memes with the best of them. Sometimes he’s so focused on creating that he forgets about music promotion, like he did this past week, just before the release of his new single “Never Sleep” with Travis Scott and Lil Baby. (His manager had to call and remind him.)
After five years and two consecutive No. 1 albums, Canada’s rap prince doesn’t necessarily have to tweet about a song with two other major names featured on it, nor does he need to do excessive press. At this point, fans are well aware of the XO signee, they’ve seen the side-by-sides comparing him to the likes of Mozart, and they’ve familiar with his engineer-to-artist backstory. As Nav tells Complex over the phone, all that matters now is the quality of his next release, Demons Protected by Angels.
“I feel like when you first start out, people like your story,” he says. “They like these facts about you. And as you get bigger and bigger as artists, it becomes all about the music. You know, ‘Is the music good or not? We don’t care about your story anymore. We don’t care that you make beats anymore. Is the music gonna hit?’ And I think we’re gonna hit and deliver, because I tried really hard, and I was very conscious about the song choices, topic choices, the lyric choices, everything. We’ll see.”
As he prepares to throw himself into the Demons album cycle, Nav finds himself in the “calm before the storm,” as he calls it. When we speak, days before the release of “Never Sleep,” he’s walking his dog, polishing up his album, and staying off social media (for the most part) after a realization that a somewhat-private online life suits him better. But once the music arrives, he’s prepared for everything to change. That’s when the music, and what he considers a potential song of the summer, finally arrives.
Leading up to his so-called storm, Nav opened up the title of the new album, his top five(ish) rappers, internet shenanigans with Drake, and the dawn of his comeback single, which finds him sparring with two artists who remind him how lucky he is to be making music at this level. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, follows below.