Who is Navraj Goraya?

Feeling “Some Way” ‘Bout Coachella-Bound Navraj “Nav” Goraya’s Collaboration With The Weeknd

With the release of “Some Way” featuring Canadian superstar The Weeknd, rapper/producer Nav bites the bullet on a record that boasts shots at the world’s biggest pop star, Justin Bieber. The song itself is a flurry, a fleeting glimpse into the XO lifestyle. Running at 2:58, the Weeknd feels compelled to address his problems with fellow Canadian superstar Justin Bieber, presumably concerning their separate relationships with Selena Gomez. Nav, a “brown boy” who accentuates the single, furthers his brand of silky vocals and honesty, even claiming at the end of his verse “If I say the word, my shooters gonna pop ‘em”. For those from where Nav is from, this bar is hardly a surprise.

2,000,000 plus views since 2/15.

This is where it gets interesting. Hip-hop group Ghetto Concept grew from Rexdale. As did solo act Jelleestone, whose bars “Money can’t buy me happiness / But I’m happiest when I can buy what I want, anytime that I want / Get high when I want” off “Money (Part 1)” were paraphrased in Drake’s trip down memory lane in the nostalgic cut off his album Views, “Weston Road Flows.” Shortly thereafter, the artist best known for “Wavin’ Flag”, K’naan, appeared on the scene.

All these things had to happen in order for this brown boy and rapper/producer, born Navraj Goraya to a Punjabi family, to live and grow in sleepy, off-kilter Rexdale. Hard to tell how old he is, but he’s definitely in his 20s. People whisper he’s old as 27, while others say he’s either 21 or 22. Recording artist Autobahn claims he is “26”. Nav has roots in blue-collar and nihilistic foundations. On his Facebook, he has checked in to Guru Contracting Ltd., a heating, ventilating, and air conditioning service in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. He has also checked in to No One Cares, a media/news company in Pune, Maharashtra, India.

He’s been making music since at least 2012. He started to make noise locally in Rexdale in late 2015. There’s an interview conducted via RedKingSingh.TV (a showing in solidarity in itself) about 5 years old that’s floating around on YouTube. Back then, he was just Nav Beats. He’s asked what kind of production he can offer. Not missing a beat, eying the camera, he says, “Anything. Anything the artist wants, I can make.”

Fast forward to 2016, Nav starts to mingle in industry circles. He raps in his song “Up”, “Cash found me / I got cash now.” This, of course, refers to the Weeknd’s confidant and manager, Cash — now credited with bringing Nav to the masses. Nav is on the lineup for Coachella, one of the nation’s largest music festivals, happening this April. The festival used to be known for its white guy rock lineup. Nav being part of it on the day Beyoncé headlines seems like part of an overall trend and move away from that.

His stage name speaks volumes. Kids named Mohammed shorten their name to Mo. Kalpen Suresh Modi shortened his name to Kal Penn once he realized he wasn’t getting any calls back from the big-wigs at American movie studios. One of my best friends Bilawal shortens his name to Bil. People go as far as to call him Billiam. So, Navraj’s decision to drop the ‘raj’ in his first name shouldn’t alarm those of us brown boys who are used to having our names butchered. Grappling with identity works overtime for Nav here, as shorthand for ‘navigation’ as well as his name, lending a theoretical lens through which to analyze his music within social constructs.

Although his identity seemingly manifests out of the wispy pill-popping vanity that so many artists in Toronto are prone to wallowing in, Nav sticks out because of how he talks about drugs. Coming from a culture that’s near universally hush-hush when it comes to topics such as drugs and sex, Nav speaks on his use candidly, insinuating depression, struggle, and even a numbness that is so palpable yet so catchy that some of us relate even more to Nav. He’s the un-championed brown boy, the anti-model minority, and when he’s in his zone he’s all the more endeared for it.

Nav’s mixtape, Perfect Timing, will be released on February 24th, 2017 via XO Records, LLC and Republic Records, a division of UMG Recordings, Inc.