Words + Photos by Antonio.
Not A Collective is, literally, not a collective. Though they support, collaborate, and often perform with each other, they would rather shun the pressures and expectations of adopting an entirely separate identity as a group.
There is no leader, and there is no hierarchy. Rappers NeroScream, Nigel Frank, and Why Fi, as well as graphic designer and producer Bluseph, each enjoy the independence of building a name for themselves in a bubbling music scene in and around the District. When they come together, the chemistry is obvious and welcome. Posse cuts such as “Over Seas” and “Japanese Twerk Song,” show that they are just as interested in showing off their lyrical prowess as they are turning their show into a party.
Nigel Frank, NeroScream and Bluseph discuss origins, why they remain to be Not A Collective and the advantages of having Nigel as a roommate.
Q: Nigel, how does it feel having quit your job?
NIGEL: It feels good! I have a lot more time. I’m living in Nero’s living room, and I’m on my housewife shit. I’m cleaning the crib, buying groceries when he’s back.
Q: Why did you quit?
NIGEL: I wasn’t happy. I didn’t have enough time to do what I wanted to do. I got all my life to work if music doesn’t work out. Just quit now while it’s okay.
^ Nigel Frank, photographed at #ArtUndiscovered at SportsZone, Georgetown (Washington, D.C.)
Q: What are you going to use this time for?
NIGEL: To work on music, to work on the whole brand, everything down to the Instagram. Just staying busy at all costs.
^ Bluseph, photographed at #ArtUndiscovered at SportsZone, Georgetown (Washington, D.C.)
“We wanted to put everything in one place, and we didn’t know how to do that without making a group”
Q: What was the idea behind Not A Collective?
BLUSEPH: We wanted to cheat, basically, and steal each other’s fans. We wanted to put everything in one place, and we didn’t know how to do that without making a group. So we’re trying to start a name for something and have a blog or Instagram, or something else to put it all in the same place, but not be a group. So we decided to literally not a collective.
^ NeroScream, photographed at #ArtUndiscovered at SportsZone, Georgetown (Washington, D.C.)
“We don’t want to be like The Beatles and get the same haircuts”
Q: Why don’t you want to be a group?
BLUSEPH: Because you get some people that get overshadowed, you get someone that’s the assumed leader of the group, just a lot of things that come with having a group, collective or posse.
NERO: We’re all our own artists in our own respects. We all have our own sounds and do different shit.
BLUSEPH: We don’t want to be like The Beatles and get the same haircuts.
NEROSCREAM: But shouts-out to the Beatles, they were tight!
Q: How did you all meet?
NIGEL: My friend Whip went to high school with these guys. There was a party one day, and I didn’t even know them. Bluseph and Nero grew up together as best friends, brothers almost, and even Why Fi knew them, so I was the odd-one out. So I come to a party that my boy throws, I meet them, dap them up, smoked me up.
We didn’t even really talk about doing music, it was just some authentic friends stuff. We didn’t think about doing music until Nero had already put out a mixtape, I put out a mixtape, Obi had beats from each mixtape, and then we had thought about putting it together.
“Even if he steals my wallet from me and runs off, it doesn’t matter. It’s still not a collective”
Q: Has the idea of Not A Collective since the beginning?
BLUSEPH: Not at all, it’s exactly the same.
NIGEL: Right, as long as everybody’s doing them. We’re going to give advice to each other but that’s all it is.
BLUSEPH:It literally cannot change because it’s so true to what it is.
NIGEL: If I never talk to them again or put out music –
BLUSEPH: It’s not a collective! Even if he steals my wallet from me and runs off, it doesn’t matter. It’s still not a collective.
Q: Focusing on the branding, where are you trying to take it?
NIGEL: I can’t give away all the recipes, but we’re just trying to make waves. Riding them will get you wiped out.
Q: Since you’re not a group, how do you come together and support each other?
NEROSCREAM: Even when I’m making my own stuff, I still always have somebody in the studio with me, to have a different perspective. Of course, we’re going to collab with each other.
NIGEL: Sometimes it’s as simple as “can I get on this track?” One of us will say yes or no. It’s not too emotional.
NEROSCREAM: There are no politics to it at all, it’s pretty smooth.
Q: How is Nigel as a roommate?
NEROSCREAM: He’s awesome. He cleans, buys groceries, he’s better than my actual roommate. I hope my roommate hears this and steps up his game for real. I’m being 100% honest.
Q: What are you individually working on?
NIGEL: I’m working on a bunch of music. I hate naming projects and then have people ask when it’s coming. It’ll be out when it’s out, but I’m not waiting on anybody’s out.
NEROSCREAM: I have some songs I haven’t put out yet, but I have a song called iScream coming out in a few weeks. [Note: iScream is out now, and can be found here]
BLUSEPH: I’m working on more graphic design than music right now, unfortunately – or fortunately. I feel like switching lanes doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m not going to make progress. It’s going to only get me further, so when I switch back into another lane, I’ll be ahead of myself. I’m working on physical art right now, and I’ll be back on my music shit very soon.
“Shouts-out to Why Fi. We’re so authentic, he’s not even here”
Q: Where will you be in 5 days, 5 months and 5 years?
BLUSEPH: Five days, I’ll be at 7-Eleven. Five months, still in my momma’ house. In five years, in my momma’ house and 7-Eleven at the same damn time, because I’m going to rent it out.
NERO: In five days, I got a shot at the 4/11 Union Arts Loft with Why Fi.
NIGEL: Shouts-out to Why Fi. We’re so authentic, he’s not even here.
NEROSCREAM: In five months, I’ll be in Baltimore, probably smoking a blunt, a joint, a cigarette or something. In five years, I’m going to be re-instated as the emperor of Rome. I’m going to take it over and take over the world.
NIGEL: In five days, I’ll be in the kitchen/my room, cleaning again or cooking a little bit. In five months, I’ll be dreading school, in classes hating it. In five years I’ll probably be doing interviews with you. Hopefully, everybody just grows.
Thanks Not A Collective for the interview! You can stay up on Not A Collective’s newest sounds on their Soundcloud.