Hip hop artist and author Nicholas Grooms returns to the fold with a brand new album “To the North Star, Reaching” released on February 9th, 2022. The album chronicles the last couple of years that saw Grooms fall on hard times, take a step back from creating, and reevaluate his life as he prepared for the birth of his first child. “I think I wrote the perfect album for the imperfect parent.” jokes Grooms. “It’s for all the parents who feel overworked and like they are failing at times, when in reality they are just doing their thing and loving their kids as best as they can. Sometimes you feel like a superhero who has it all together and other days you need a drink before noon to get through the next hour of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. No matter what day it is, there is nothing better than being a dad, and I love that this album is a chance to show how my little boy made me better in all respects.” The album is a six track EP centered as much around fun, pop culture references as it is emotional thoughts. Grooms is previously best known for his song work with the Kansas City Chiefs organization as well as his book “Me, Myself and I Hate You”. To the North Star, Reaching.” can be heard on Spotify, Apple Music, and most major streaming platforms. His first collection of poetry “May You Mend Soon” will be released sometime this spring via Lateral Press.
Enough from us. Let's hear from Nicholas!
Westleaf Staff: When did you start making music?
Nicholas Grooms: I have been hard at this since I was 14 years old, But I would say it was nothing serious until I got into my twenties. Now I am kind of the old guy watching all these young rappers make music I don’t always like or understand. That is kind of the internal struggle of my new album “To the North Star, Reaching”. To throw it back or get more with the times. It feels like a slippery slope with a lot of jagged rocks no matter where I fall with it. I would say that a lot of these rappers now would have benefited from starting in the era I did. It was a lot more work and it weeded out those less dedicated. I have said it before, but I feel like the needle used to be able to weed itself out of the haystack. Nowadays, the haystack of similar artists is piled so high, no one takes the time to seek out that good artist lost in the shuffle. Technology has made it easy to get music in your hands, but when there is so much stuff that you give up looking, yeah, maybe we have an over-saturation problem. Sorry, that was way more than you asked for.
Westleaf Staff: How did your early life shape your interest in music?
Nicholas Grooms: My mom was constantly singing and playing music. I really fell in love with soulful stuff and female vocalists because of all those days listening to Gloria Estefan and Whitney Houston while mom cleaned house. My dad was a metal head and a vinyl junkie, so I learned to appreciate the art of the mixtape and spinning records from a young age. It’s crazy how all those early bits creep into my art all these years later. I often see mom and dad’s influence in everything I do. It was a slow ascent to real hip hop, but luckily I made it there.
Westleaf Staff: Who is your biggest musical influence?
Nicholas Grooms: I am really in love with a lot of the same albums I have been listening to for years. Sage Francis, Atmosphere, Grieves, Sadistik, Mac Lethal…so many albums and songs that I can’t really narrow it down. And that’s just hip hop. If I had to pick one artist, I would pick Lemon Andersen. Every word that man speaks brings out emotion. He’s a spoken word poet with an incredible story to tell.
Westleaf Staff: What has been the defining moment in your music career?
Nicholas Grooms: I have been able to do a lot of cool stuff. Getting to perform at the Van’s Warped Tour is up there. Making music for the Kansas City Chiefs was fun. But nothing brings me as much joy as being a father and watching how much my young son enjoys seeing me do what I do. I often click on the bluetooth speaker and when he hears the connecting sound ring out, he gets excited and starts bouncing around saying “YEAH, YEAH, YEAH!” For me, that is the be all, end all. He will remember that fondly for the rest of his life and so will I. We’ll always have it to bond over. It truly is a special thing. The accomplishments are fun, but those things are what I would like to be defined by.
Westleaf Staff: What makes you a unique artist?
Nicholas Grooms: I feel like I am just built differently. I don’t wait for opportunities, I create them. I do whatever it takes. I also try to focus my work on the betterment of people. Hip hop can be such a self serving genre if you let it become that. I have recently started a company called “Random Raps of Kindness” where you can purchase a verse about anything. A lot of people want to raise up someone in need and can’t find the words, so they can purchase a $15 verse and I video message them and post to Tiktok when I am done. I have done a ton of different topics ranging from mental health woes to congratulating someone for bringing up grades on their report card. It’s so much fun! It really is a challenge but it keeps me sharp and keeps my mind at work, thinking of the next thing at all times. I also feel like I am good at highlighting what I do well while making my flaws endearing. I am a big dude, I am not the prettiest, I don’t rap fast or have a tattoo of a vampire sinking it’s fangs into a Xany bar on my face. I’m just a t-shirt, jeans and a pair of Van’s kind of guy who really digs poetry. I own that shit. Nothing is more unique than being yourself.
Westleaf Staff: What does art mean to you?
Nicholas Grooms: Art to me is anything you create. Especially in terms of creating a mood or a feeling. Art evokes emotion and that feeling is a beautiful thing in itself. I remember being 15 years old and seeing Taylor Mali perform a spoken word piece entitled “What Teachers Make” on HBO’s “Def Poetry” and remember how after I saw that, it was all I could think about for days. That to me is incredibly artful. It’s a high I have been chasing everyday of my life. I think about how that piece made me feel and I want to put that feeling into the bellies of strangers. That butterfly’s flutter, that lump in their throat. That impactful look like they were just given some heavy news. I love evoking that emotion. Having the power to say words and make people experience your energy is a powerful thing. That to me is true art. Above all else, when I perform, I do it for the opportunity to touch someone in that genuine way.
Westleaf Staff: Describe music in three words.
Nicholas Grooms: Speaking your truth.
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