Nsilo’s wordplay, beats bring Chicago-style positivity to Scranton hip-hop
SCRANTON — Nsilo didn’t have to look hard to find his rap name. The 21-year-old rapper from Scranton, whose real name is Terry Thompson, just ended up picking his middle name.
The name came from his uncle, who was shot and killed at a young age in Michigan. The name came to the rapper when he was born, as his father’s way of memorializing his uncle.
“And my mom swears she spelled it wrong on the birth certificate, when she was on the drugs for the C-Section,” Nsilo laughed, explaining the lack of a vowel between the first two letters. “But I like it.”
Nsilo is coming off the release of his first mixtape on SoundCloud, entitled “In Due Time,” which was preceded by a lengthy period of hyping the project on social media. He said his goal with the project was a simple yet lofty one.
“I’m just a local guy who wants to make it big, and, hopefully someday, be someone’s favorite rapper,” he said.
The inspiration for “In Due Time” came after Nsilo had a conversation with a friend, Marcus Moody, who goes by the name Goaty and is featured on the mixtape, about the changes currently happening in hip-hop.
“Rap is in such a renaissance-state; there’s such different genres of rap right now, and anyone can do anything with it,” Nsilo said. “And we were like, ‘Why can’t we do something with it?’”
And Nsilo says that what they’re doing with it is making conscious rap, using lyrical themes of positivity and coping with problems. He said this focus on positivity comes from one of his biggest influences, Chicago-based artist Chance the Rapper.
“It was just such a different kind of rap,” Nsilo said of Chance, who is well known for his positive messages. “I don’t want to say it was spiritual, but it was on such another level from what was going in rap. It was game-changing for me.”
And with that focus in mind, Nsilo set out to create something similar on “In Due Time.”
“I want to be the music people have in their ear when they’re depressed or when they’re happy or when they’re celebrating,” Nsilo said. “The theme for most of my songs is getting better, aiming for higher.”
In many ways, “In Due Time” is a project about minimalism. Lyrics about enjoying the simple pleasures, like tacos from Taco Bell in spite of not having much money, play over dreamy beats that would almost feel at home on an A$AP Mob record.
While Nsilo says that fame isn’t his main goal, he is excited that the songs on his mixtape have gotten over 400 plays since they were initially released on March 14, with only self-promotion on social media. Since then, he said he’s gotten plenty of positive feedback.
“People really like the energy, the wordplay, and they say the features are awesome,” Nsilo said.
“In Due Time” isn’t Nsilo’s only foray into the world of hip hop. Nsilo is part of a rap collective with his friends Goaty and Corey Kelly, who also appears on the mixtape. The three call themselves the Higher-Ups, reflecting their positive lyrical themes. Together, they work on a hip-hop culture podcast called “Lost in the Mood.”
“We release a podcast every week,” Nsilo said. “We talk a lot about hip hop culture and stuff that’s going on in the hip hop world. And we get some local artists around, too.”
With the podcast and one mixtape under his belt and new music coming down the pike, Nsilo has his work cut out for him. But, he says, that’s the point.
“It’s all about the grind,” Nsilo said. “We’re never gonna stop working.”
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6119