Na-Kel Smith Interview: LA’s ‘SKULLFACE BONEHEAD’ proves he can do it all

When Na-Kel Smith sat down in the back room of one of Hakeem Rowe’s favorite hangout spots FA, it felt more like a reunion amongst friends than a sit-down interview.

“I see you way too much to be starting with that,” Smith said just as Hakeem and the OGM team rolled tape. The pair bursted out in laughter trying to reel it back in on camera. They go back — way back it seems. Rowe initially recalled Nak’s days in high school where “everyone” was trying to see what he was up to.

“Growing up, n****s was watching Nak,” Rowe said excitedly. “Nak was skating, Nak was living life, Nak was Nak man — Nak was knocking.”

Now, our eyes are still on Na-Kel “Nak” Smith, as the Los Angeles native is a testament to the grind that skating, music and acting truly can be. With his mind moving freely in every which way, Nak’s soft-spoken, personable nature makes his art feel off-kilter and larger than life in every regard.

Running with Odd Future at the turn of the 2010s, Smith is not only a professional skateboarder, but also a scintillating lyricist — seamlessly melding the confines of alt-rap, lo-fi and rage throughout his discography. Accumulating over 25,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, he’s a jack-of-all-trades — a multihyphenate with only two years worth of music. Releasing his debut project Twothousand Nakteen in 2019, it introduced listeners to the out-of-the-box thinking he displays in his music.

With an unmatched originality in all aspects of his life, Smith said that he wanted to learn everything he could on his own. From buying equipment to emailing producers, Nak was still finding ways to do it all.

“I knew that no one was going to help me. I got a lot of friends that make music, but I never felt comfortable to ask for help. Everyone did their shit on their own, I want you to respect me if I’m trying to be up under them. So I had to do everything — bought my mic, getting beats through email, trying it, recording songs and then saying ‘this isn’t good enough, these don’t sound like the songs I listen to.’ From there, I’ve been figuring it out.”

Na-Kel Smith

These music-minded friends include Odd Future members in Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt — who have appeared alongside Nak on tracks during his days with the collective. At just 25-years-old, it seems like he’s lived a handful of different lives. Skating for Supreme and Fucking Awesome, starring in Jonah Hill’s passion piece highlighting ‘90s skate culture in Mid90s and the music above it all, his new album SKULLFACE BONEHEAD is truly anything but ordinary.

The project is a tantalizing 8-track effort that features a slew of unorthodox sounds, new wave effects and vocal changes that immediately separates Nak from any artist in the underground. Spanning only 15 minutes long, the album — which dropped on Monday (Jan. 24) — is a kaleidoscope of colorful verses and innovative instrumentation that flow as readily as Smith does. Pitching his voice up, down, left and right, there’s certainly no boundaries or rules within Nak’s sound, soaking up as much knowledge the game brings forth at a faster pace than most.

“I just wanted to learn how to do it. It’s just like skating to me. Like, I wanted to learn how to be a pro skater, and I did that. So I’m going at [my rap career] with the same approach.”

Na-Kel Smith

As Nak continues to show the world how “fucking awesome” he really is, he checked in with OGM host Hakeem Rowe to speak on his new album, Odd Future, A DREAM NO LONGER DEFERRED and more in his OGM exclusive interview.

Watch Nakel Smith’s OGM exclusive interview below!

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