Amahl Abdul-Khaliq, the hip hop producer known as AF THE NAYSAYER, brought his undeniable charm and energy to represent New Orleans at BUKU Music + Art Project. He debuted his EP PARTS: Act 1 at his VIP set, stunning festival-goers with his interpretation of electronic and instrumental hip hop, interwoven with inspiration pulled from video game soundscapes. I had the opportunity to interview the man himself and get a better understanding of who AF THE NAYSAYER is.
How was AF THE NAYSAYER, the name and the music, born?
AF is an acronym for Abstruse Function (problem with no definitive answer). The “NAYSAYER” part of my name is a tribute to angsty teenage ways when moving to South Louisiana from San Fernando Valley, CA. The name is a direct personification of myself, and my music is just a reflection of my personality.
What is the one thing you want people to gain from your music?
I really don’t know and I’d never really thought about it. Music is such a selfish release for me. I’m just grateful for anyone that takes time to listen to something I created. I would hope the listeners could tell that I put an abundance of time and effort crafting these tunes. With that being said, I gain a little bit of knowledge about myself through every composition. My art is an extension of my soul.
You just released Act 1 of PARTS, with 2 more to come. What was the process like?
PARTS is a compilation of work I created from 2014-2017. Instead of releasing it as one full-length album, I decided to release it in different Acts with 12 songs in total. Releasing Act 1 has been quite the journey. I struggled to put a team together to help me release the record, but now I have one and we are all one merry musical family.
Which song was the most difficult to produce? Conversely, which was your favorite?
I spent the most time working on “I Don’t Feel Bad” featuring Formo Sir. Every other song on the EP developed naturally, but I went through ten different revisions over a week with this one, excluding post production.
On the other end of the coin, “Honey Vinegar” was my favorite song to work on. From a production perspective, it’s my love letter to Jan Jelinek’s earlier work, and has allowed me to emulate his style in a way that brings it to a modern audience.
What is your dream project?
For the longest time my mantra was “Get paid and hang out with Ty Dolla Sign,” but nowadays I’d be content producing some songs for Blu, my favorite rapper. This question also reminds me of my original goal: have a concert performing alongside a full orchestra, similar to what Carl Craig did with the “Les Siècles Orchestra.”
The music industry is one of the most challenging and toughest to be in. What keeps you going through the hardships and what advice would you give someone going through the same struggles?
I don’t even know sometimes. I relate the pro wrestling industry to the music industry. One of my favorite independent wrestlers is New Orleans native Ricky Starks. I watch him struggle and grow constantly, and his work ethic fuels me to keep going. Heaven knows I’ve been ready to throw in the towel a handful of times, but I also understand that the entertainment industry as a whole is a war of attrition.
If I had to give any advice to anyone, 2 Chainz said it best, “Hard work beats talent.” Also, no one is successful all alone. It takes a team of people. Work on building a team who believes and supports your goals and talent, and who you can depend on to help you when you need them most.
Stay updated with AF THE NAYSAYER for the upcoming PARTS!