Local Producer Makes a Name for Himself

Cover for N.A.Is album, Joseph.

Cenai Collins

Cover for N.A.I’s album, Joseph.

Cenai J. Collins, Staff Writer

Just a few days removed from his third album “Melodic Daze,” local Producer N.A.I OnThaBeat was able to sit down and talk to me about his passion for music, releasing instrumentals, local talent, and more.

Cover for N.A.I’s album, On tha Beat. (Cenai Collins)

N.A.I OnThaBeat is a music producer hailing from Western Massachusetts. He strictly releases instrumentals and lets the people he knows handle the vocals. “There’s something special brewing back home with all the different artists and groups in the area,” he said. “The East Coast Oracles are a group that comes to mind immediately. We’ve been working on music in our own right, but also with each other… Seeing the process that each of them go through is dope,” he said.

Though he doesn’t know him personally, the producer also credited AIC alum Austin Fair. “In the past, you didn’t really hear about artists from Western Mass making noise like he has,” he said. “But I think times are changing. Tons of talent from here will come to light soon enough.”

Making instrumental projects is another thing that was pretty uncommon to most when N.A.I started releasing music.

“What I love about instrumental music is the fact that you can do anything with it,” he said. “You can have it playing in the background while engaging in something else. You can freestyle to it; you can relax and listen to it. The possibilities are endless.”

“I’ve always been someone who’s had a deep love and connection for and with music,” he said. “I think that really starts with my parents… Over the years, they’ve shown me so much music that they grew up on, and I think it’s shaped how I’ve come to love, listen to, and create music now,” he said.

Cover for N.A.I’s album, Now or Never. (Cenai Collins)

N.A.I also acknowledges his parents when recalling how he got into production. “All the credit goes to my dad,” he said. “My dad has produced music forever… I can remember being four or five years old watching him work wonders with his electric keyboard and computer. Since then, I’ve always been heavily invested in doing my own production. He’s taught me quite literally everything I know when it comes to production.”

N.A.I also mentioned that he didn’t really key in on making music until the COVID-19 pandemic struck in early 2020. “I was always interested,” he said. But while in quarantine, he thought, “There’s no better time than right now.”

Less than a year after he started making music, N.A.I began releasing it. In January 2021, he released an EP titled, “Souls of Dreamers,” which was initially released on Soundcloud, but was later to be released across all music platforms. “The way ‘Souls of Dreamers’ came together was kind of random,” he said. “I had been on a run of making R&B beats, and one night I was going through all of them and decided that they would all sound really good on a mixtape.”

His debut wasn’t a long project by any means. “It’s only five songs. I’ve always viewed the project as just the smallest introduction to what was coming next,” he said.

Since then, N.A.I has released six more projects, including three mixtapes and three albums. “In my mind, there’s a pretty significant distinction between an album and a mixtape,” he said. “A mixtape to me is shorter in duration. It generally falls under a specific sub-genre, while an album is longer and might bring… other sub-genres into the mix.”

His second release, titled “Westside Nights,” was a mixtape full of West Coast beats for artists like YG, Mozzy, and the Late Nipsey Hussle. It was released in May 2021. He followed this up with releasing his first album, “Joseph.”

“Joseph” has earned a following among residents in Western Mass. “’Turn Me Up’ is the best song on that album,” Amherst native Keidy Cardoso said.

“’The Departure’ has a vibe to it,” commendted Tafari Proctor. “I’m thinking ‘Joseph’ is better than ‘Westside Nights.’”


Cover for N.A.I’s album, Joseph. (Cenai Collins)

“For me, releasing ‘Joseph’ was big,” N.A.I said. “I remember thinking before I even went through the process of releasing ‘Westside Nights’ feeling like I was ready to drop a full length album,” he said. “There were a lot of nerves, but also a lot of excitement… A lot of people from home were asking when I’d be dropping the next project after I released ‘Joseph,’ so I’d say the release was a win.”

With the release of “Joseph” came his most popular song, “Promise.” It reached over 20,000 streams across the different social media platforms, as well as four Spotify playlist placements.

“Seeing how successful ‘Promise’ was really motivated me even more than I already was to continue doing what I was doing,” he said.

Following the success of his first few projects, N.A.I would go on a five-month hiatus. He would return with the “No Silence” mixtape, which had UK/New York drill-type beats for artists like Pop Smoke and Fivio Foreign.

“I had to come back with a bang,” he said. “Five months is a pretty long time for me when it comes to my music.” Since his return, the rest of his releases included: “Souls of Dreamers II”, the album “Now or Never,” and now most recently, the album “Melodic Daze.”

“I’ve had fun creating every project I’ve released, but it was a whole new experience when I was creating ‘Melodic Daze,’” he said. “I was in a different headspace; this project has a new sound, and new vibe to it.”

The artist expressed that when people listen to the most recent album, he wants people to “feel like they’re in a dreamlike scenario for the entirety of the album.”

“’Melodic Daze’ is the one that’s gonna get him noticed,” Proctor said. “It sounds exactly how he described it.”

“The music gives me the feeling of being in the moment,” Saleem Messiah said. “You can really sit back and vibe with it.”

As for what’s next for the artist, it seems like he’s secure in what’s to come. “I’m always thinking one or two projects ahead,” he said. “I know for a fact that I have at least one more project left, and that’s coming in May. After that… well, you’re gonna have to wait and see.”