Navraj Singh Goraya, popularly known as Nav, is a Canadian hip-hop music producer and recording artist. Born and raised in Toronto, Nav started making music while he was in third grade in school. His uncle being a respectable name in the Indian contemporary music industry, Nav found a whole new world in music and he decided to pursue it as a serious career option. In mid-2015, he made low-key contributions to Drake’s hit single ‘Back to Back.’ He began his own journey through the platform known as ‘SoundCloud,’ a social media site where budding musicians can share their creations with the rest of the world. One of the earliest tracks Nav uploaded was ‘Take me Simple,’ which received millions of hits on the site. In September 2016, he collaborated with American rapper Travis Scott, for the song ‘Beibs in the Trap,’ and received immense accolades. Following this, he was deluged with offers, and in early 2017, he signed with the Canadian label ‘XO’ label and the American record company ‘Republic Records.’ Soon, Nav released his debut self-titled mixtape. He then released a collaboration mixtape and worked with artists such as Metro Boomin and The Weeknd.
Childhood & Early Life
Nav was born Navraj Singh Goraya, in Toronto, Ontario, on November 3, 1989, to parents of Indian origin. Both his parents were born in Punjab, India, and later settled in Canada. They lived in a multi-racial neighborhood of Toronto. Nav was the youngest of the three children in the family. His father worked as a forklift driver in Ontario. His mother worked as a computer engineer.
Nav’s attachment with music production was mostly due to his uncle’s influence. His parents noticed his love for the art, and when he was in third grade, he was gifted a boom box.
The family shifted to the northwestern part of the city and settled down in a neighborhood known as Rexdale. Nav was subjected to mild bullying like most non-white kids in school. He was not too good academically and believed his true talent lay in music.
As he grew up, he became increasingly weak in academics. However, he was slowly turning out to be a very talented musician. Rexdale’s local music scene grew fast while Nav attended high school. He saw kids his age making mixtapes, and in an attempt to blend in, Nav followed the same path. He started mixing music and finally began making his own beats through ‘Sony’s ‘ACID Pro’ software.
He idolized hip-hop sensation Nasir Jones, better known as Nas, and decided to do something worthwhile as he followed the path of his idol. In early 2015, he recorded a rap song for his friend but was told to perform it himself. This was the first time he rapped in front of a crowd. His first gig boosted his confidence and allowed him to go further with his music. He soon started working days and nights to come up with the right music to launch his professional career.
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In one of his early interviews in 2012, he had claimed that he could make anything an “artist wants.” The confidence he exhibited reflected in his work and he slowly started creating a buzz in the Toronto music arena. Fortunately, in mid-2015, one of his beats reached Drake, one of the most successful American rappers of all time. Nav earned his big break, as Drake used the beat for his song ‘Back to Back.’
Although it was a big deal to be featured in a song by one of the greatest American rappers of this generation, Nav later thought it was not a big achievement. He continued making music on his own. A few months later, he heard his music on the show ‘OVO Sound Radio’ and that was when he realized the true impact of his skills.
A few months later, in September 2015, Nav introduced himself on ‘SoundCloud,’ an online platform where budding musicians present their creations to the world, free of cost. As Nav had already gained some popularity by that time, he quickly became a highly followed artist on ‘SoundCloud.’
One of the earliest of his ‘SoundCloud’ hits was titled ‘Take me Simple.’ The song became a mega hit. To date, it has received more than 12 million hits on ‘SoundCloud.’ Drake’s ‘OVO Sound Radio’ then featured two of his songs, ‘The Man’ and ‘Take Me Simple.’
In 2016, he finally started collaborating with bigger artists and one of his first collaborations was with Travis Scott, for his song ‘Beibs in the Trap.’ The song became somewhat controversial due to the lyrics that cheekily compared Justin Beiber to cocaine. Nav also co-wrote and co-produced an entire album titled ‘Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight.’ The album was featured on the ‘Billboard 200’ and peaked at the 90th spot.
The album’s success was a slow burner, and a year later, it was tagged as a “platinum” album by the ‘Recording Industry Association of America’ (RIAA), as it sold more than a million copies domestically. In September 2016, Nav released his debut mixtape independently. It was named ‘The Introduction.’ In February 2017, he signed a deal with ‘XO’ and ‘Republic Records.’ The deal had him releasing his debut mixtape, ‘The Introduction,’ to a wider base of listeners.
He released his self-titled second mixtape a few months later. The lead single of the mixtape, ‘Some Way,’ had him collaborate with The Weeknd. To date, the music video for the song has crossed 41 million views on ‘YouTube.’ The Weeknd featured as a guest vocalist on the single, the lyrics of which created a lot of controversy. It was alleged that Weeknd’s lyrics in the song had directly insulted Justin Beiber, with whom he had an ongoing feud back then. However, this seemed to be a common issue among rappers and it was soon forgotten.
In July 2017, Nav released his third mixtape, ‘Perfect Timing.’ Nav collaborated with Metro Boomin for the production and writing of the tape. Various tracks of the album featured prominent and new artists such as Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, and Belly. The album peaked at the 13th spot on the ‘Billboard 200’ chart. One of the album’s singles, titled ‘Wanted You,’ featured on the ‘Billboard Hot 100.’
His meteoric and superfast rise to fame was acknowledged by the jury of the 2018 ‘Juno Awards,’ which honored him with the ‘Breakthrough Artist of the Year’ award.
As he became more popular, Nav shortened his name from “Navraj” to “Nav” in order to blend in with other artists.
Nav has claimed that many of his songs have drugs, sex, and depression as their themes, as these topics are usually not talked about in Indian homes.