Growing up in Vernon, Justin Nerling often found himself writing and then busting out rhymes over a microphone and dreaming of one day filming a music video to air on MuchMusic’s Rap City.
Making music since he was six years old, with the encouragement of his dad Terry, Nerling has finally made those dreams come true.
Known in hip hop circles as TassNata, Nerling has been churning out his hard-hitting raps for more than a decade and has just seen his new single, Let’s Go, released on video channel MuchMusic.
Described as a big party track, Let’s Go is reflective of the ‘90s vintage hip hop sound, with the rappers trading off lines on who’s the best.
“We kept it light and fun. It has that energy behind it,” said Nerling.
The song and video features Toronto artists Rich Kidd and Tona, both of Juno winning rap recording group Naturally Born Strangers. Nerling made the connection with Rich Kidd when Kidd recorded the album The Closers with Vernon-raised rapper SonReal, whom Nerling has been friends with since high school.
Née Aaron Hoffman, SonReal is a four-time Juno nominated and MusicMusic award winning artist, whose star has steadily been on the rise since The Closers came out in 2012.
His latest single, Can I Get a Witness, just went gold in Canada this summer.
Nerling joined SonReal on tour last year and also accompanied him at the MuchMusic Video Awards (MMVAs) in June.
“I told him as we were on the red carpet that I remember when we were 17 talking about how we wanted to be on MuchMusic and at the MMVAs,” said Nerling. “He has helped me a lot in putting in the groundwork. He did a lot of these things first and he succeeded. He has been advising me on what he did wrong and what he did right, especially with networking and talking to people at MuchMusic.”
That networking helped TassNata in the recording of his 2014 album Before Mourning, which was produced by Rich Kidd and features Danny Brown, who just released a recording with Kendrick Lamar, as well as with Andreena Mill, Junia-T, and JD Era.
Let’s Go is one of the tracks off the album.
With the beats delivered by Tone Mason (the production team who have worked with Drake and Jay- Z and have been nominated for two Grammys) from the same sample used for House of Pain’s Jump Around, Let’s Go was written on the spot at a recording studio in Toronto’s Liberty Village.
“It turned into a big party in the studio,” said Nerling “Rich Kidd had bronchitis and wasn’t supposed to talk, but you can hear him yelling in the background. The camera man started doing push-ups and Tona was doing wheelies in an invisible wheelchair.”
The resulting video, directed and edited by Dan Lemoyne in Toronto, wasn’t released on MuchMusic until last month.
“There were a lot of roadblocks,” said Nerling. “All videos go to a panel at MuchMusic before they are aired. I knew it was going to hit there, but they don’t have Rap City or Vibe anymore, and they usually just play pop artists… It’s hard enough to get music videos on there, but now we’re getting heavy rotation.”
Originally released on the online channel Noisey, the video took off after Team Backpack picked up it up on Facebook.
“It had over half a million hits in three weeks and now it’s been going over one million,” said Nerling. “It helped to get it on MuchMusic and now we’ve been targeting universities in the States. It’s even being played at a military college in Alabama.”
The song was also played during the Toronto Raptors’ eastern conference finals and also made Apple Music’s hit playlist as well as Spotify’s essential list.
“The song did well and the video has made it bigger,” said Nerling. “It has been getting great rotation on Much and we are also going to end up on the Countdown.”
Still based in Vernon, Nerling has been busy juggling his music career with helping raise his two daughters, Lyriq and Maya, who attend Ellison elementary school.
“I’ve been starting to tour, so I’m in and out of here all the time,” he said. “We have a full tour booked in the spring and we’ll be in the U.S. to play shows in L.A. and New York.”
TassNata is also getting ready to play a show in his hometown.
He and special guests will be performing in a pop-up party at a secret location scheduled for Boxing Day.
“We plan to do this in different markets across Canada and Vernon is the first to test it out,” said Nerling.
Only 120 tickets will be available and those looking for the location can check Pop Up Party Ca on Instagram.
More information on TassNata can also be found on Instagram @tassnata, or visit www.tassnata.com.
Link to the video here: http://www.much.com/music/musicvideo/1001349/tassnata-lets-go