NEW YORK — Canadian-Indian rapper Nav has no problem being signed to one of the biggest artists in the world. In fact, he says The Weeknd doesn’t overshadow him, but pushes him to the forefront.
"It’s a real family over here. He has so much success. I don’t think he really cares about who’s (also successful)," said Nav, whose real name is Navraj Singh Goraya and is signed to The Weeknd’s XO imprint. "He just wants everybody to win."
With fellow Canadian stars like The Weeknd and Drake, it’s an understatement to say Toronto has had a signature run in music the past few years. But Nav, whose new album "Good Intentions" debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart this week, is taking notes and hoping to one day draw the same acclaim.
"In the room, he’s very humble and chill," Nav said of The Weeknd, who has won three Grammys and also topped the Billboard charts this year with his new album "After Hours."
"He’s not going to come shake (up) the album on some bravado tip. He’s just gonna be really honest."
Nav’s "Good Intentions" follows "Bad Habits," which also debuted at No. 1 last year. While Nav expected his third album to do well, even he was slightly surprised at back-to-back apex albums.
"It’s kind of surreal that I topped my last project," said Nav. "I’m surprised. ...The music just cut through again."
Chopping through the jungle known as the music industry has become second nature for the producer-turned-rapper who began making waves throughout hip-hop by crafting beats and writing for artists like Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Drake, Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Kodak Black and his label boss.
Nav, whose parents are from Punjab, the northern region of India, grew up in a predominantly white Toronto neighbourhood where he initially listened to alternative artists such as Nirvana, No Doubt, Radiohead — acts who now influence his melodies. Hip-hop stole his heart while attending a diverse junior high school.
"When I started going to middle school, all my friends were from my hood and were like, ‘Listen to Nas and 50 Cent,’" said Nav. "On the production side, you’ll see that my melodies are weird … I take influence from weird synth-pop and put it into a hip-hop beat."
Nav credits much of his success to taking the time to perfect what he’s already good at, rather than focusing on his weaknesses.
"I don’t have the best pen, maybe," says Nav, "but I know overall, the music, the sound is gonna sound great."
While he’s is basking in the moment — as well as the fire emojis he says he frequently sees in the social media comments about his music — he’s also set his sights on showing other young people of Indian decent that success in creative and non-traditional careers can be attained.
"There might be a brown kid who paints and isn’t sure, and his parents want him to be a lawyer or something. Not saying that’s bad, but it’s something that he’s not interested in," said Nav. "I hope I inspire the brown guys, brown girls, everybody, just to follow their dreams with no fear. Because that’s what I did."
Follow Associated Press entertainment journalist Gary Gerard Hamilton at twitter.com/GaryGHamilton