In 2016, the spotlight on Minneapolis rapper Finding Novyon burned brighter than ever before. Big shows, smart collaborations, and three strong projects.
Here's a look back at the year and a look ahead to 2017, with reflections from the 25-year-old artist.
Entering 2016 on a high
Finding Novyon closed 2015 with the release of #TheFoodNetwork. The infectious "Lots" from that collection, featuring his friend Allan Kingdom, streamed over 429,000 times on SoundCloud and was named one of the best songs of 2015 by Pigeons and Planes.
Below is live footage of Novyon performing "Imma Chef, Lemme Cook" at the Hollywood Palladium with the help of The Rotation, his local crew featuring Dwynell Roland, Devon Reason and producer Travis Gorman.
“I feel like that’s what’s so great about The Rotation, because whenever my buzz dies down, there will be Roland. Then, whenever Roland’s buzz dies down, then Devon will emerge,” Novyon explained.
Frustration to start to 2016
Speaking of buzz dying down, Novyon's Super Saiyan EP arrived in January at a turbulent moment.
When he started hearing about fellow Minneapolis artists getting booked in January to perform at Rhymesayers' yearly hip-hop festival, Soundset, he put out his mixtape to mask his disappointment that he hadn't been invited.
“I opened for Sean, that’s what I earn for a popular song,” Novyon spits on “The Transition.” The sheer self-confidence the banger alludes to set the tone for the year to come.
Coincidentally, the date of the EP's release was the day Soundset invited him to perform.
When Memorial Day weekend at the State Fairgrounds arrived, “The overall experience that I had and the reaction that I got from the crowd is something I will probably remember for the rest of my life,” he said.
Two more projects
“When I started 2016 I was in a very depressed state and a lot of that had to do with money. That drove me to get off my ass and get work done,” Novyon explained.
His work ethic reflected in the MC's second project of the year, Believe in MPLS, a summer collaboration with J.KELR of Blended Babies. Novyon teamed up with artists he studied growing up like Chuck Inglish of The Cool Kids and the college-loving Asher Roth.
Additionally, with the Red Bull Sound Select connect, Novyon had the opportunity to work with Atlanta producer and rapper Sonny Digital. Sonny produced three tracks on last month's Super Saiyan 2, including “I Can’t Lose” featuring Jace and Curtis Williams of Two-9 and “Been On My Job.”
“Working with Sonny Digital this year was awesome. I still can’t believe it,” Novyon said. He is still taken aback when Sonny checks in with him via text every now and then.
So Cold Records and local hip-hop
In 2016, Novyon and Allan Kingdom formed the So Cold Records collective. They met their third member on the set of the “Lots” music video and immediately knew they wanted to work with the talented south Minneapolis-based Drelli.
“The agenda we are trying to push, is that you can be weird," he said.
He added that the So Cold crew so far consists of young, African-American men that don’t rap about having guns or selling drugs, because that isn’t their story. Novyon wants to lead by showing you don’t have to fit a certain mold to be a rapper and being true to yourself is good enough.
Touring with Prof in 2017
To kick-off the new year, Novyon will join Prof on his tour, alongside Metasota. “I’m a little nervous because Prof is crazy, but I know Metasota is going to make sure I don’t die,” he said.
Touring also means tour merch. What he came up with was aimed to be dope enough for even the casual fan:
As his music career grows, Novyon hopes to make waves on the fashion front, and eventually incorporate his passion of anime and illustration. Drawing all over his homework as a kid and following the careers of Pharrell Williams and Nigo of Bape have all played a role in Novyon’s long-term set of goals.
“In 2017, I just want to stress myself out less and be more patient with myself,” he said.
Novyon plans to put out his next project in the spring of 2017. Many of his new records will be auto-tune based, so before he shares his new music he’ll be working perfecting his live sound with an auto-tune pedal, live band and backup singers.
Some collabs Novyon wants to bring to fruition in the new year are with the new Taylor Gang inductee Lil Uzi Vert, The xx, and St. Paul’s Dizzy Fae. He added that he'd love to join forces with Lady Gaga, because she has served as an inspiration throughout his whole career. He said her marketing tactics, songwriting skills, independent production, stunning videos and live performances have all set a shining precedent for him.
The subject matter of his new tracks will also shift, as he will open up about his struggles growing up and determination to make his mark in the Minneapolis music scene.
“I feel like this year I did a lot of screaming at people and a lot of turning up," he said. "So I’m just trying to have a better subject matter and stuff that everyone can listen to.”
If you want to catch Finding Novyon (and Allan Kingdom) light up the city one last time this year, they will open up for D.R.A.M. at the Music Hall on December 30.