The name Nate Walka may not initially send bells ringing in your memory, but when you find out he’s partially the mastermind behind some of the biggest hits of 2009 and 2010, you’re interest is immediately sparked to know more about the man who’s coined the “stutter-style” in current music.
Certain songwriters prefer to play the background and appreciate the subtle praise that comes with penning hit records, which couldn’t be more opposite from Nate’s state of mind. Yeah, he’s still eating off of “Blame It” (Jaime Foxx/T-Pain), and “Say Aah” (Trey Songz) bread, due to them being not only radio smashing records, but also taking in a number of awards and esteemed accolades, the most recent being an ASCAP award for “Blame It”.
So how does a small town starving artist make his way to being a big name writer & artist?
BE Magazine: So tell the readers a little background about who your are and where you emerged from
Nate Walka: I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and when I was 14 moms packed me up and sent me out to Illinois, where I went to high school and all that. Shout out to Warren, where I went to [high] school man. I went to college in Alabama, then I dropped out of college and moved to Indiana, and from Indiana I moved to Atlanta. In Atlanta is where I started going in on the music real hard; that’s when it became serious for me.
BE Mag: You definitely have created a lane for yourself. Tell me how the 1st single popped off for you.
Nate Walka: Man it was kinda crazy the way everything happened. When I first moved down here [Atlanta], I was working on my own stuff with my manager Askia, so we were just in the process of recording a bunch of records. At that time I was sleeping on my homeboy from high school’s floor cuz I basically. You wanna know the whole story; you got time?
BE Mag: We definitely have time mane.
Nate Walka: Ok, good lookin’. I was working at a retail store in Indiana and they offered me a better position, getting into management and all that. It was like they had this plan, and I was real excited about that ‘cuz you know I would have a salary, be able to save up some money, and help my sister out. But when I got home, I started thinking about it and was like dang, my whole life is mapped out on that piece of paper. You know they was like in 3 years you’ll be doing this, and in 5 years you be doing that, and in 8 years you’ll be here. I sat and thought about it, and their plan didn’t have anything to do with my plan. I really wanted to do something different than that. So I hit my boy David Ballard, who I went to high school with, and he’d always hit me up and tell me I needed to move to Atlanta. He was going to Morehouse at the time, and he’d be like, yeah man, Atlanta is crazy right now; like I really think you can make it out here if you come. I was like for real; so I hit him up on that offer and was like are you serious man, the music scene is really poppin’ like that? And he was like yeah man, you coming down here? I told him I was thinking about it, and explained my job offer. He was like man you need to come down here, you can always get a job. I told him basically if I came down there that I didn’t have a place to stay, so is it cool for me to crash on your couch? He was like I ain’t got a couch, but its cool for you to rock the floor, make a pallet or whatever, and I was like fasho. So I moved out to Atlanta, I had about $800 bucks, but I sold my CD for money so I could have money and help out with groceries and what not. He had a few things set up at his house like some mics, and an inbox set up in his living room space, and that’s where we’d be just grinding it out. I came out with my 1st mixtape, and that actually had “Blame It” on there, and we really thought “Blame It” was the joint, but at the same time I didn’t really like it for me all the way. I mean I liked it for a mixtape joint, but not really for me at that time. So I gave it to our homie, I ain’t gon’ say his name at the time, but our homie who always be hitting us up saying he shop songs, but it turned out he wasn’t really our homie ‘cuz he was going around saying it was his song. So we took it from there, all while he’s out there shopping the song saying it’s his, my manager had got me to open up for Swazy, and I get a call from Chris Henderson, who’s responsible for producing the song that everybody loves now. Chris asked me what my affiliation to “Blame It” was because at the time it was on my Myspace. I told him me and my boy David wrote it and asked why, did he want to buy it. He said naw man, I think we have a problem. He mentioned the guys name and asked if I knew him, and I was like, yeah man, thata’s my homie. He was like naw man, that’s not your homie ‘cuz he was saying that the song was his. I called him and he was like naw, naw, naw, it ain’t like that. Long story short, Chris hit me up like 2 weeks before Jamie’s album came out, and luckily I had my copyright, so it wasn’t like they could take it from me, but I’m glad Chris hit me up because he didn’t really know what was going on, but that other dude was just a bad dude and really isn’t doing much in the industry these days.
BE Mag: Not a swagga jacka????
Nate Walka: (laughing) Exactly! Luckily my moms convinced me to copyright my stuff before I put out my mixtapes.
BE Mag: Shout out to moms for her smarts!
Nate Walka: Yeah, mom’s be on it. Every mom.
BE Mag: So fast forward to the present. How does to feel to have all of the accolades and be known as Grammy award winner, and ASCAP Pop award winner?
Nate Walka: It really just feels the same. I still feel like I gotta work. I’m in Atlanta working on me being an artist, so that what I’m really on now. I’m in negotiations with Live Nation, Atlantic, and a few other labels, so we’re seeing who’s really talkin’ and having fun in the process.
BE Mag: Before I let you go, can you tell me where you plan on taking your music?
Nate Walka: This whole thing has been like a journey, I started off as this battle rapper, who started off rapping, and then moved into writing my own hooks, and since then I’ve grown so much. Now I’m capable of so much musically because I’ve been writing for so many people that on my project I just wanna showcase all that I’ve picked up and learned.
You can find out more about Nate Walka by following him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/natewalka