Philly’s Nate Runnur just dropped 'Flavors Vol.1' — a 6-track EP consisting of highly personable lyricism, fast-paced energy, and pure authenticity. Influenced by the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West and Pharrell - Runnur’s style and approach is a fusion of personal storytelling. EARMILK had the chance to catch up with the budding rapper. Hit play on the new album and learn more about what makes this rising new artist one of the most eclectic and skillful musicians in the game.
Right off the bat, Runnur shared, “Just starting out I wanted people to feel like they knew different stories from my life.” And it's through this honest expression with his music that makes Runnur such a captivating storyteller.
Through the community of friends he surrounded himself with while attending Howard University in D.C., Runnur was able to discover his passion and calling in music. He shared the story of how one night a friend and aspiring rapper had a mini-studio-set up in the same dorm and it's on that mic that Runnur would find his calling. In talking about his friend, Runnur said, “ He had a couple of songs but he threw me on one, and then I did a verse on there and people went crazy over it. So after I did that first verse, I was like f*ck it. I might as well tap into this.”
A lot of the times, artists neglect understanding the business side of things and focus solely on the music. It's quite easy to get caught up in the glitz and glam of the game, but Runnur's decision to go to Howard University and finish his business degree also symbolizes a musician with in-depth commitment. “I hear a lot of rappers and people who are in the industry say ‘f*ck school’ or like ‘I’m not about to get a job’ or all of that, but I think school is a huge help," Runnur shares honestly. "It kind of gave me the business mindset. I’m trying to come at it from a different perspective. I mean, I read a lot, so I can never get jerked in the industry because I know what deals are supposed to be good for artists and what deals aren’t.”
Though Runnur first discovered his passion for music in D.C., it was his hometown of Philly that gave him the confidence to explore this new artistic endeavor. “The swag, the lingo, everything - I get it from Philly.... Just growing up, the experiences that I had, the people I was around. It’s a very real place, it’s never going to leave me, it’s always going to be in me.”
In thinking about Philly - “Back When” as an opening track to the 'Flavors Vol.1' EP is reminiscent of one of the most iconic opening tracks by Philly’s very own Meek Mill on “Dreams and Nightmares”. Though different in flow and style, both are intros that open up the project with notable strength. Runnur doesn’t hold back at all with the bars; masterfully flowing over the production’s eerie bounce.
He isn't shy in describing his own sound as “Runnur flow”. To his credit, much of delivery is smooth. This latest project is a cohesive introductory EP to who Nate Runnur is; not only a musician but as a person.
“I feel like 'Volume 1' really marks the start for me. I think having that in the title is super important, just to show people that this is a starting point but we got a lot of sh*t coming. It symbolizes people staying in tuned with us, following us and seeing what we’re going to bring in the future.”
The production is such a huge part of Runnur's recording process as well - “Before I even write any of the songs, I’ll get a group of beat samples together and I make sure they’re all cohesive. And I’ll think ‘Bam! This track and this track will be good before this track’ I mix and match and do a lot of executive producing on my own.”
The EP kicks off with a strong-intro track “Back When”. Runnur doesn’t hold back with the bars, while the production has somewhat of an eerie bounce. Throughout the rest of the project, he taps into different flows to help portray various emotions. “Germany-Italy” is one of the standout tracks and he describes the production as “more of a laid-back-cinematic type of beat with the instrumentals in the back.”
On "Cali Girl Frstyl" the poetic lyricism is familiar to listeners as it croons over past relationships. The production is rough and juxtaposed with a sample of birds chirping throughout the track. It portrays the raw and sometimes rogue thoughts and feelings we have when remembering past relations. It's that kind of subtle but highly intentional and dynamic production techniques that make Runnur such a force to be reckoned with.
"Aspen" further showcases the artist's versatility as he takes the flow in a uniquely different pocket and showcases more of the emotional undertones in the lyricism. He starts off the track simply conversing on the beat with no flow, just talk. As the track takes a pause, there's a breath and he goes in. There's a self-awareness to his word-play as he raps “don’t think I’m ever going to change my ways, thinking about money and real estate”. Runnur is self-reflective as the track progresses and he even references the project title as he raps "been giving the flavors for years now, life going up I'm embracing my fears now".
Ending the project with "Int'l Runnur" is rather symbolic. It's the most divergent track out of six because it starts with a more pop-inspired production and Nate goes in on the track with a more trap-driven flow. His masterful control over the pace of the track and molding it to his will takes us through a rollercoaster of a journey - it's a subtle validation that every sound you hear is entirely in his control. He keeps the chorus repetitive as he wants the message to be loud and clear, “Tell them to send me my money in advance, cash!”
Staying inspired through the energy that he keeps around him and incidents from his own life - Runnur concludes that he’s “never lacking in the inspiration department” as it’s always around him, or right there within him. This is an artist that is only at the beginning of his journey but he’s already working on videos and the next project as well. There's no slowing Nate Runnur down, and that's why he's someone we'll be keeping a close eye on.
*Edited for clarity