Introducing Nasa Nova: The Aussie Drill Enforcer

Australian rapper Nasa Nova speaks candidly to Complex about the emergence of Australian drill, the postcode wars and staying true to himself.

Australian rapper Nasa Nova

Australian rapper Nasa Nova

Australian rapper Nasa Nova

Hailing from the shadows of Western Sydney, Nasa Nova is enforcing the Drill genre with a cut-throat energy that buckles faint hearts.

“This aggressive’s not like something I’m trying to put out there,” explains Nasa.  “It’s how people already know me. I’m not trying to be arrogant. People just knew what I was getting up to. People would already be saying; ‘Nasa was there, Nasa did this, Nasa did that.”

Last week, the Fijian-Australian rapper dropped another bloodthirsty bomb, Dip It, earning him the cover of Spotify’s Local Hype playlist while staying true to bareknuckle form and evoking the hardcore aesthetic of the controversial genre.

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“I don’t really like being told what to do. I take advice from people and listen to what they have to say. But I do whatever I want. What I do is what I do. I can’t say anyone’s opinions really affected the decisions I made because they didn’t. I just did my own thing.”

As a student, Nasa showed promise as a rising football player and was selected to attend Matraville Sports High School. “It was alright. I was playing a lot of footy up there. I wasn’t too bad at footy, ay!” he says, laughing.

He was raised between the Guildford and Merrylands neighbourhoods of Western Sydney. “The area is home. You hear bad things about the area like it’s very active and that. It is what it is. I love living here. My family love living here. All my boys love living here,” says Nasa.

When asked why he feels the need to represent his neighbourhood, Nasa quips, “I’m just proud of where I’m from. Some people don’t like that. And they get whatever’s coming.”

Since Drill music’s inception on the shores of Australia, NSW Police have targeted the genre for inspiring violence in the Postcode Wars; a suburban gang-war between the inner-west (21 District) and outer-west (27 district). The police have used unprecedented tactics such as deplatforming artists and applying pressure on venues to cancel shows.

“A few diss tracks got made by our older boys and their older boys as well. It’s nothing new,” explains Nasa. “That’s how we were raised to be. They hate us so we hate them. We carried the hood shit on from our older boys. We had older boys who went to war. So we kept it going. And now there’s a younger generation that’s keeping it going. It just doesn’t stop. You grow up into it.”

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For young disillusioned men of colour, status is constructed in the war stories that ripple from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. In exchange for the violence, rap became the means to validation and self-expression.

“I started rapping back in high school. Just as a muck around thing at the youth centre in Guildford. I was rapping with my friend Jimmy and A1 (21 District). We were making songs for the area back then. Talking our shit.”

According to the academic Elaine Salo, gangs should not only be seen as an expression of alienation and resistance, but also as an ‘expression of social cohesion in peripheral communities’.

“But after I graduated I got in a bit of trouble. And shit happens. We like making quick dollars here and there. People used to think of us as like the troublemakers of the area. I was just hanging out with the boys a lot. Partying and fighting a lot. I would go a bit too far sometimes. I guess.”

Nasa found himself back in the area, running amok with the boys he was raised with. It was 2017, and someone had sent him “Grip and Ride” by Harlem Spartans. The language of the drill genre echoed the back and forth diss tracks that were bouncing around Western Sydney between the G40 and NF14 crews.

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“Drill music is very real. It’s very real. It’s the realest music I’ve ever heard. Everyone in Western Sydney, or not even in Western Sydney, if they’re about the street life they can all relate to what’s being said in Drill tracks. Like true that happened and true this does happen.”

Nasa eventually caught his first charges of assault and aggravated robbery. “I was 19 when I was sent to Silverwater Prison. Then went to [John Morony Correctional Centre’s] Windsor One,” reflects Nasa. “It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. It was bad. It was shit. Prison is shit. Jail is shit. It’s depressing. But it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. But I didn’t last long on the streets.”

After being released for his first prison stint, Nasa tried staying on the straight and narrow but was quickly lured back to the streets. “Trouble comes with partying. Around here, every party ends in a punch on.” After four months, he was back behind bars.

During down time in prison, Nasa would listen to hip-hop on radio stations; The Edge (96.1FM) and The Triple J Hip-Hop Show.

“I started writing some raps when I was locked up. There was a lot of spare time. I was writing about how I grew up. How life was inside. And the way my life turned out. It was deep. But I never planned to get into rap seriously.”

When Nasa was released in 2019, local rap labels hit him up to start putting his music on the streets. Nasa linked up with Returnza Records and dropped Show Out – a track he penned while incarcerated. The video garnered 100k views on YouTube in less than a week.

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“On jail calls I get boys saying they heard my tracks on Triple J,” laughs Nasa. “I was tripping out. I was getting reaction videos and all that. I never even knew what reaction videos were. It was all new to me. So when I seen all the international people getting behind it...I figured I should give it a proper go.”

He would soon merge forces with Lowkee and sign to Biordi music. Nasa adds, “The music has not changed anything for us. It’s just given us more police attention.”

In recent months, NSW Police has been watching the area with close scrutiny over the postcode wars and serious organised crime. Nasa’s close friend, rapper Ay Huncho, has been the target of a series of police raids by Strike Force Raptor investigating the Alameddine crime family. There is no evidence of either rapper committing any of the crimes they have been accused of.

“I could tell you a thousand stories about the police attention. I don’t think the police like drill music. I don’t think they’re a fan of it,” smirks Nasa. “They say it promotes violence. But it shows violence. It’s real shit. Sorry if it hurts your feelings but it’s real. They don’t want people to see how it is out here.”

Last week, Nasa’s house was raided by police. It’s becoming a regular occurence. “I wasn’t home. They made a little mess in my house. It is what it is. I like cleaning...all that time in prison you grow to like cleaning.”

When Nasa raps, the dark undercurrent of the streets comes to light. A reality set in motion by social fractures and suppressed by police censorship. Those that blame Drill for inspiring violence need to start asking what inspires Drill.

“Sadly, it’s very relatable for a lot of people. [Drill’s] a problem because it’s street shit. And it’s real. It’s what goes down in the streets out here. When you hear the lyrics you think like true, true, true. You can relate to it. Some people can,” explains Nasa. “I’m just trying to show people what’s going on on my side of the story. I’m talking my shit. Whoever wants to talk their shit should be able to talk their shit. If they really do it.”

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