Gorilla NEMS Revisits His Battle Roots (Interview)

Known for his uncompromising ferocious rhymes, Coney Island, NY emcee Gorilla NEMS gained his notoriety on the battle circuit in the early 2000s. He’s returning to his battle roots on May 19 when he will battle veteran rapper HEAD I.C.E in Boston, MA.

Weekly Rap Gods caught up with NEMS recently and he spoke about everything from his early days to his much anticipated upcoming battle.

Let’s get ready to rumble!



What two things would you say are missing from Hip Hop that you bring to table?

Two things that are missing are NEMS and Fuck Ya Life. That’s what’s missing.

Explain the whole concept behind F.Y.L. (Fuck Ya Life).

Fuck Ya Life means fuck you if you’re not down with me; fuck ya moms, fuck ya kids, fuck everybody.

Tell me about the upcoming battle with HEAD I.C.E.

I’m gonna embarrass him and do him dirty. I’m gonna show people I could jump back in the ring, sharpen my sword, then go right back to rapping. I’ve always used the battle platform to get my name out, then it’s right back to making music.

Do you prefer battle rap over making music?

No, I love to create music. The battle rap game has a lot of fake shit, WWF antics and I’m not really fond if it. I’d rather make dope music.

Please speak on your history with respect to battling.

I started at The Fight Club. I had 30 wins, and about 3 to 4 losses. That was how I got my name known, then I transitioned into making music.

Are you an independent artist, or are you signed to a label?

Yes I’m independent. The game has shifted. There’s no need for a middleman. I’d rather get $8.00 or $9.00 on every record vs. getting .18 cents.

What is your perspective regarding touring?

I’ve toured Amsterdam, Belgium, Paris, and I’ve been a European headliner.  Touring is not glamorous. There’s a lot of downtime, lot of bags, unfamiliar places and unfamiliar people. It all happens so fast. But when I look back at it, I met a lot of dope people. But overall, it was a lot.

How do you reflect what you experience in your life in your music?

As I get older, I calmed down. I’m becoming more mature. I used to do crazy shit, but I’m not that way anymore. And sometimes people expect me to be the old NEMS. Some fans understand my growth. Some don’t.

What are your favorite hobbies outside of music?

Laughter. LOL I enjoy traveling…music always intermingles with traveling. I’m learning to enjoy the time with family and friends, life is short.

So what do you listen to musically in your spare time?

I listen to all genres. I was listening to Michael Jackson yesterday. Red Hot Chili Peppers, I listen to everything. I even listen to mumble rap. LOL. I listen to everything.

Well how do you feel about mumble rap?

When Wu-Tang and Biggie came out, people that listened to EPMD felt the same way many people feel about mumble rap now. You gotta shift with the times. You can’t get mad.

What collabs have you done?

I’ve collaborated with Ghostface and Kool G Rap, two of my favorite artists. I’ve collab’d with D12, and Beanz who is my favorite female artist. As far as collabs go, I feel like if it’s meant to happen, it’ll happen. If it’s not supposed to happen, it won’t.

How does your family feel about your music?

My family loves my music, and they’re fully behind it. As far as music goes, if you’re an artist, you better have another hustle. But yeah, they’re 100% behind me.

Tell me about your music history — when you started, and how everything has been developing.

I started around 2003-4, and I got into the Fight Club 2004-5. I was signed to an indie label called Psychology. My creative juices started flowing then I decided to do for myself. Shortly after that I got locked up for a robbery. I was young. I got a 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 year sentence. When I went in, there was no YouTube or Myspace. My buzz was still building from the Fight Club though when I was locked up. I gave up drinking, drugs and became sober. Now, life is great.

Who is your greatest top 5 D.O.A.?

Big Pun, Biggie, Drake, Jay-Z, NEMS FYL. Yeah, Drake. He showed me a lot about longevity. He’s a smart man, and he changes his flow on every song.

Any closing messages for the people?

Yeah, Fuck Your Life (FYL).


Again, Gorilla NEMS will be battling veteran battle champion rapper HEAD I.C.E on May 19th in Boston, MA at The Middle East. Tickets can be purchased at www.kotd.tv. The event will be streamed live pay-per-view on the same aforementioned site.


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