Emerging with a fresh, forward thinking spin on hip-hop that draws creative energy from elements of pop, classic R&B, and dance music – and everyone from his iconic childhood influence Tupac, to his family relatives The Emotions – the multi-talented Chicago born, Minnesota based artist NoTrace came up with his sly moniker one day in a freestyle.
He’s a quiet and reserved “Empath” by nature, But when NoTrace gets on the mic, he’s a master storyteller, rapping, rhyming and putting together tracks that brace to the heart and galvanize the spirit. After months of vibing in the studio with some of pop and Hip Hop’s Talented producers, NoTrace drops his powerhouse debut EP in 2020.
He sets the stage for the release with first single, laying his emotions on line on the heartbreak and hope-infused hip-hop ballad “Vibrations,” produced by Dan DFS Johnson (Drake, Chinx ft. Antwon Bailey, Collie Buddz, Gyptian ft. Junior X). “Vibrations’ is a perfect way to introduce my artistry and vibe to people because anybody and everybody can relate to the feeling that you get when your heart breaks,” he says. “It’s not only about heartbreak, but overcoming it, learning through it and becoming a better person after.”
NoTrace sets himself apart from the hip-hop masses by stressing the importance of strong relationships and family. “A lot of these songs were written and tracked during the time I had just become a new father. I’m a stay at home dad, so it was my first time making music as a father, and with my son present.
“I love being able to create, because writing and rapping is really how I communicate and get things off my chest, “NoTrace says. “Everything you want to know and all the things you didn’t know about me are in my music. With the upcoming EP release, I’m in the perfect place, being an indie artist with the opportunity to finally be able to make a living doing what I love. “As a hip-hop artist,” he adds, “I wanted to show a different side of how women and relationships are portrayed in music. The project shows that as a person and artist, I am a bit different, or more diverse then what people are used to hearing. I have more of a positive mainstream vibe. And because I’m an Empath, I’m way more sensitive than most Hip Hop Artist portray, and I believe I can connect to a more diverse audience.”
Although the EP is more of a collection of stories and snapshots from his life than driven by a formal concept, NoTrace boldly asserts that the themes running through it run counter to the so-called norm in today’s mainstream rap. He relishes his status as an indie artist, which allows him the freedom to express himself without former label interference. “The concept is about the appreciation of a woman, women or relationships,” he says. “A lot of the songs are about the way people connect with each other, so it’s really about me talking about different times in my life and situations I have experienced. It’s my way of showing how grateful I am to be a father, that life is a blessing and a gift.
Other tracks on the EP include the trippy, hypnotic “Layers,” about the many complex facets he’s discovered in his relationships with women, produced by Sean Ross (Lil Wayne, Brother Ali, Logic); the Johnson produced “B Day,” on which NoTrace juxtaposes his celebratory mood with the darker, troubling social realities happening in the world.
NoTrace, who releases everything through his multi-faceted umbrella platform NTE Music Group, took his time developing his creative flow in the studio before emerging with his first commercial endeavour. He laid the foundation for his breakthrough by licensing earlier individual tracks to numerous cable TV shows, including “Bad Girls All Star Battle,” “Double Divas,” “E! News Special,” “E! News Live,” “House of Curves,” “Lucky Bastards,” “Rich Kids of Beverly Hills,” “Sec Gridiron Live!” “Total Divas” and MTV’s “Made.”
Music was part of NoTrace’s DNA from the get-go, with a musical family that included a bass playing father, singing uncles and a familial tie to the all-female Grammy-winning soul/R&B group The Emotions (“Best of My Love,” “Boogie Wonderland”). His earliest memories are of family parties where, despite his acute shyness, he and his sister would perform for tips, carving their own names into the family’s musical tree. A few of his greatest musical influences growing up were Tupac, Three 6 Mafia, and many other artists played a significant role in NoTrace’s developing musical and rhythmic sensibilities. But his childhood wasn’t all free and easy. Battling the more difficult elements of the Chicago streets led NoTrace to follow his older sister to Minnesota.