Multi-faceted artist Nino Carter has entered the Madison scene with a fresh new rap titled A Self Gang EP. Design house NOTHING HERE, which is a partnership between Carter and Tom Knight, produced the record.
Carter made his move back to Madison from North Carolina in 2013. He makes his living creating full-time, making art of all forms from photography, to music, to painting. As a young kid, Carter was homeschooled, but decided the pace was too slow, he said. He dropped out of school completely at 15 and decided to just teach himself things he was actually interested in, like music and painting, as well as visual treatments and architectural studies, he said.
“I like to design pretty much everything and anything that I can and am capable of,” Carter said.
His range of work extends to architectural work, stage design and zines as well. One of his Facebook posts from February reads, “Designer, painter, model, curator photographer, consultant, producer, director, rapper, shooter.”
It’s safe to say Carter has many talents in his arsenal.
To him, music is the most progressive thing he does, he said. Carter’s been working on a full-length album for some time and though it’s nearly done, he finds himself fine-tuning things. While the full-length will have a different style (the inclusion of choirs and orchestras), the four-track EP has a more aggressive, non-stop vibe. Carter said he completed a majority of the tracking in one take — which aligns with the songs’ pacing.
Carter said he is happy to have some tangible music material now and the EP can serve as a sort of demo to his future work. With these songs, he wanted to prove he can rap well — with meaning behind them, too. The lyrics attempt to address political issues in Madison regarding violence, gangs, police and racial incidents, he said. Carter made a point to be subtle, encouraging listeners to really pay attention to the words.
Lyrically, his inspiration comes from artists like Big Pun, Big L, Biggie Smalls, Andre 3000 and Ghostface Killah. Sonically, he finds himself drawn to people like Thom Yorke from Radiohead to Kevin Parker from Tame Impala to Lana Del Rey. His favorite artist of all time is Portishead, he said.
Someday, Carter hopes to compose music for films and television shows, he said. That’s where NOTHING HERE comes into the picture. He found Knight, a dude located in between London and Walsall, England, on YouTube and realized they were on the same wavelengths regarding music taste and aspirations, he said. He reached out over email and they created a partnership.
Knight has helped Carter realize music is a universal language and through that openness, they’ve been able to hone in on their perfect style and aesthetic for multiple mediums, he said.
“NOTHING HERE is about how you can see it, you can feel it, you can hear it, you can wear it — it’s all the same,” Carter said.
Within the parent company of NOTHING HERE, there are subcategories that signify different company divisions. Two of them are called “A Self Gang,” and “900,” which is where Carter hopes to take the company’s rap and production side. The third — “Face Gang,” is more personal.
“[It’s] Me, myself and I, in a way,” Carter said, “I love everyone so they’re a part of me — my family and my friends, so it’s a self, but in a way it does often feel like you are alone. So, that’s where ‘A Self Gang’ comes from.”
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Besides releasing the full-length album, Carter hopes to have a second solo pop-up show to showcase all of his work aside from music. It would include photography, modeling, t-shirt designs and even some blueprints, he said. He had his first one at Samba, but hopes to do some more, like a pop-up tour.
To Carter, Madison has a lot of talent and the community of people is one where we are all familiar with one another. He came here to plant himself within that, he said. And in sharing his projects, he hopes he can create a scene where we are uplifting each other.
This guy’s clearly got a lot going on, from releasing his full-length, to putting up pop-up installations, to positively immersing himself into the Madison art and music scene. From the sound of A Self Gang EP, he’s definitely on the right track.