You may’ve heard the murmurings about this young rapper from New Zealand. He’s the whizz kid from Wellington who, in the space of five hard-working years, has gone from secretly recording rhymes in his bedroom to sharing stages with some of the biggest names in the game.
He is Name UL. And, as New Zealand’s discerning hip-hop community will tell you, he’s one of our brightest emerging stars.
Now with his debut full-length album Choice(s) set to drop on September 1, Name UL is stepping up to the plate, readying himself to take on the industry hype that’s seen him compared to Drake and touted as New Zealand music’s next big thing.
Hard work and sheer determination underpins much of the last five years for 20-year-oldName UL – whose real name is Emanuel John Psathas.
He was performing in bars and clubs long before he was legally able to drink in them and established his own label, K.W.O.E – or Kids With Open Ears - when he was just 15.
In 2015, he made his move from the underground hip-hop scene to the mainstream with the release of his powerful youth anthem ‘Only Sixteen’. He’s also opened for – and impressed – a whole host of international acts from Pharcyde, Action Bronson andSchoolboy Q to Vince Staples, Jurassic 5 and Earl Sweatshirt.
This year, on his own steam, he headed off to one of the biggest music showcases in the world, SXSW, to shop his wares. The trip landed the young artist an internship as a songwriter at Warner Music in LA, where he’ll spend the first few months of 2017.
It’s all part of the journey that’s led the rapper to this moment as he stands on the cusp of the great unknown with his 12-track labour of love, Choice(s).
The album is an accomplished body of work, which shines a spotlight on the unique nature of Wellington’s hip-hop culture. It also stands Name UL out from the crowd as a gifted vocalist and a sharp lyricist, with an acute awareness of youth issues – namely the ‘drink ‘til you drop/get high ‘til you fly’ culture that so often goes hand-in-hand with navigating young adulthood.
It opens with the haunting and beautifully delicate instrumental track, ‘Where The Heart Is’. The opener lays the foundations for 11 amazing songs, including the album’s first single ‘Nice Guys Finish Thirst’ produced by C-Sick. The song is accompanied by a video shot in LA that has raised more than a few eyebrows on You Tube and has clocked up a whopping 80,000 plays on Spotify.
Special mention must also be made of the album’s current single ‘Falling’ produced by WHITEROSE. It’s a catchy-as-hell tune, which just gets better with each listen and has had huge amounts of love on Spotify since its release just a few short weeks ago.
To mark the release of Choice(s), Name UL will be playing a showcase in Wellington, at the San Francisco Bathhouse on September 2 with tickets available at Non Stop Tix. There are also plans underway for a show in Auckland, so watch this space.
You heard it here first, shits about to get serious!
Name UL… no longer New Zealand hip-hop’s best-kept secret.