Shoot for the stars
Inspiration in life can come from virtually anything. For sophomore advertising major Nathan “EJ” Ejuwa, that inspiration came at the hands of an old friend jumping out of his
“studio” at 2 a.m.
The “studio,” also known as his upstairs closet, is the set-up space for some of Ejuwa’s recording sessions. Late night sessions in the “studio” with some of his closest friends are
“Go up to my room, close my door to get into the studio right?” Ejuwa said. “There she was jumping out of my closet and scaring me half to death.”
The next day Ejuwa cleared his head and took that inspiration from the previous night to make a new track he titled “Encore PM’s.”
Ejuwa, whose stage name is Nathan EJ, is a hip-hop artist from Eagan, Minn. He has two mixtapes out with a third on the way this summer. He has also worked on multiple collaboration pieces with different artists from Eau Claire and the surrounding Twin Cities area.
Chapin Turner, who goes by the stage name Blinded, has done multiple collaboration pieces with Nathan EJ. The most recent production, “Rigel” came online Wednesday. The music video for the song is set entirely in W.D. McIntyre Library on campus.
Turner is somewhat of a mentor to Ejuwa and helps him get his music to the right people, as well as helping him produce and record some of his music.
“Turner is a huge part of my team. I can trust him to get my music in the right hands, make sure the people getting my tracks know it’s legit music,” Ejuwa said. “Even get it to people that can potentially get me some money, get me some nice clothes to wear (for the show) or something that I need.”
Turner himself has been in the rap business for about 10 years. He said that there is no telling how far Ejuwa can go, and when he sees what Ejuwa can do it reminds him of himself when he started out — only he thinks Ejuwa is much better.
“The Midwest is a place of true original hip-hop, and he’s got what it takes to eventually be a star,” Turner said. “It’s all about who you know. You can go only as far as your contacts take you, so I’m trying to help him out.”
Ejuwa stresses that he wants to graduate from college and not take his musical skills for granted but that he will take his hip-hop career as far as it takes him. He hasn’t yet declared a minor, but he made it clear he strives for graduation.
“Need that degree, no doubt about that. But as far as music, I’m going to keep being real … keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “You know what they say, if you keep true to yourself everything will pay off in the end.”
If Ejuwa stays true to himself and ends up making the “big time,” he said there are some things that he would love to do both professionally and personally.
“Ten years down the road, one dream I have is to have a beautiful, beautiful daughter,” Ejuwa said. “Find a girl, settle down and have a beautiful
daughter to raise.”
In terms of aspirations for his hip-hop career, Ejuwa has a certain person picked out that he eventually wants to meet and collaborate with, by means of being successful in the next few years.
“I wanna mix a track with Andre 3000, move to southern Cali and have a big ass house,” Ejuwa said. “Have a view that overlooks the ocean and the whole shebang.”
The goal may seem steep to some, but Turner said he does not think it’s crazy at all, and he reiterated that the sky is
the limit for this young man.
“I’ve been in the business in this (Eau Claire) area for a decade, and I know talent when I hear it at the drop of a dime,” Turner said. “I got him off on the right foot, and he’s grown so much. If he keeps expanding like the way he has recently, watch out.”
As of right now, Ejuwa is not signed by a label and therefore does not have any albums in the works. But because of his connections with Turner and with Cardinal Entertainment, Ejuwa has performed numerous live shows in Eau Claire as well as some back in the Twin Cities area.
Ejuwa said that another part of his “team,” Cardinal Entertainment, “really has it in with the guys over there at the House of Rock” so they have set up Ejuwa with numerous shows in the last two years.
Numerous, in this case, meaning a total of six shows, one of which Ejuwa was reimbursed for. That show was held on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012. He was paid $70 to put on a show, and the show was especially memorable for Ejuwa for a couple of reasons.
“That was my first show with Blinded (Chapin Turner), and that was special,” Ejuwa said. “It was also the first time I got some cash for doing my thing, as well as the first time I was on a public flier along with other artists.”
Ejuwa’s ex-girlfriend, junior software engineering major Hannah Cadry, has been to every one of his shows except for one, and she said that the turnout for his shows has been increasing since the beginning.
“In the beginning he didn’t really know a ton of people, but then he met Chapin (Turner) and gradually started getting a lot of different ages to his shows,”
Being a full-time student, having a job along with having a potential hip-hop career can be stressful, Cadry said, adding that he does a good job trying to balance, but there is definitely one aspect of his life that takes precedence over the others.
“He lives for music. He is a very passionate person,” Cadry said. “Very passionate and especially for his music. His music comes before pretty much everything and is always on his mind.”
Ejuwa also makes music videos for some of his songs, working on both individual and collaborated tracks, including “Rigel,” the video that was released Wednesday morning.
Many of the music videos are filmed and produced here at UW-Eau Claire, a strategy that has gained Ejuwa recognition around campus.
Sophomore Tom Delebo, Ejuwa’s freshman roommate and good friend, films the videos while Ejuwa raps on different parts of campus, but he said that Ejuwa himself does most of the editing for the videos.
“He’s done videos for his own music as well as help out on other people’s work, too,” Delebo said. “He has gotten so much better in every aspect of his music … from rapping to producing. I’ve been there since the beginning, and he just keeps getting better.”
Ejuwa does have published music out on mixtapes. One of his first published works was a collaboration of many upcoming artists that was sold at Warp Tour last year. The song that was featured at Warp Tour was “The Dreamer’s Song.”
Both his first mixtape, “Turning Pages,” and most recent mixtape, called “Next Question,” can be found online at Youtube.com by searching for “Nathan EJ.”
His two new upcoming mixtapes that he plans to release this summer are expected to be titled “Fly By Rep” and “Ascension.” Ejuwa said he is really excited for this summer so he can start working on his new tapes.
“Once summer hits, my goodness watch out,” Ejuwa said, smiling from ear to ear. “Watch out, because I am going to drop so much music people are going to need umbrellas to stop it from hitting them.”
It’s obvious from his songs and videos, Ejuwa said, that he loves what he does. A big thing he thinks will help him in the future is getting the word out that he “does real things, makes real music and will continue to be real.”
“I make real music; check it out,” Ejuwa said. “Most people make music because they can make music. I make music because I want to, and I want to because I