Alumnus revamps elevator music in debut album
Houston rapper and recent media production graduate Jonathan Harris released his debut album earlier this week under his stage name, Nate Drop.
When people hear the phrase “elevator music,” they typically think of background ambient sounds heard in waiting rooms and, well, elevators. In other words, it’s something ignorable and forgettable, but for Harris, this is part of the listening process.
His album “Elevator Music” consists of 10 tracks, each representing a different floor level, in keeping with the album’s concept.
“I call it earworm music,” said English senior David Allen. “You don’t notice it until you’re singing it to yourself and are like, ‘Where’d that come from? Oh, right.’ But not in a negative way. The album is mellow, even meditative.”
The album title also has other meanings.
“It’s a soundtrack for elevation,” Harris said. “I’m all about personal growth. I’m a real Zen person. I’m big on peace.”
The album’s sound is not what one would expect of an up-and-coming Houston rapper: a fusion of jazz and electronica with signature Houston-style “chopped and screwed” samples peppered throughout. The vocal style vacillates between slow-jam crooning to fast-paced, Outkast-style rapping.
“A lot of (the album’s) influences don’t come from hip-hop,” Harris said. “I grew up with a lot of jazz, R&B records in the house. Stevie Wonder. Stuff like that. My parents discouraged rap, because (the rap at the time) came with an image, and my parents were fairly protective.”
Also an alumnus of Carnegie Vanguard High School, Harris has been writing in various forms since age 12.
During his years at UH, Harris would read his poetry to a rhythm among his friends and resolved to do an album.
“I was writing fanfiction first, then poetry,” Harris said. “I wrote (the opening track,) ‘Elevator Music,’ at the end of 2012 and told my friends I was making an album. I had no idea it would take two years to come to fruition.”
Most of the album is about being a young person and pushing for your own personal greatness but not knowing how.
“That’s what (the song) ‘Young King Arthur’ is about. I found myself reading the English legend at a wash-a-teria, waiting for my load to finish,” Harris said. “Before fulfilling his fate, the young King Arthur has to mentally prepare himself for what he knows he has to do. (The song) is about that: dreams, destiny. It’s just a matter of time before pulling the sword from the stone.”
There are also many songs about love.
“You want to let the art speak for itself,” Harris said. “I certainly don’t want to tell people what to think about it. Love it or hate it, the important thing for me is to be heard.”
Nate Drop’s debut, “Elevator Music,” can be heard in full at natedrop.bandcamp.com.