From a new album and single “Go Crazy” to monthly music videos, Detroit rapper Pariis Noel has lots of projects in the works. He gives SEEN the scoop on his busy year
By Katrianna Ray
Featured photo by rob brown photography via @pariis_noel
Davon Jordan got his first taste of fame at an unlikely place: His uncle’s house party. The Detroit-based artist, who grew up on the city’s west side and goes by the name Pariis Noel, was 10 years old when he and his brother staged a rap battle during his uncle’s housewarming bash — and it marked the moment he decided to embark on a music career. “It was so fun and so dope,” he says. “It was something that was always with me.”
Decades later, Noel, 28, has a distribution deal with Roc Nation’s independent-artist platform Equity, a song in the new Netflix animated film Fe@rless (which features the voices of Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union and Susan Sarandon) and multiple recording projects in the works. One is especially ambitious: His ongoing series “12 for 20,” introduces new songs and music videos on the 20th of every month until the end of the year.
SEEN caught up with the artist to talk about his creative process, his dream collaboration and what he might be if he wasn’t a musician.
How did you get started in your career?
I got started early on — I would say I was 8 to 10 years old. I was really into breakdancing, graffiti, hip-hop; basically, the energy of art. I was at my uncle’s house party, and he had a DJ set up. I had a rap battle with my brother. From that day forward, it was something that stuck with me. It was so fun and it was so dope that it was a moment to remember forever.
What aspects of your career are you most proud of?
It keeps staying the course. I don’t want to say that I don’t have any milestones, but I feel like it’s an ever-carving legacy. People tell me all the time that they commend me not only for pursuing something, but for pursuing something that is a tough role and not being fearful to attack it.
What’s your favorite song of yours?
“Staring at the Sky” from my 2019 album Beautifully Flawed. I never knew how creative you can be when you’re in such a dark place. Sometimes when you create, it’s not about what you create, it’s about the moment that you were in when you created it. You needed it. You may have been going through that to create that art.
What’s your creative process like?
It starts with a feeling. I have to feel something within the first 5 to 10 seconds. I just got my studio set up in my home. Before that, [my setup was] two iPhones: I’d record on one and play beats on the other. I would take those phones and mirror those ideas when I went to the studio, hear how they sound. I don’t want to try to remember things in my head. That being said, I record it so I know how I said it, how I want it to sound, what levels, what octaves, and so on. Now that I have a studio, I can lay these ideas down if I’m not finished writing it, I can come back to it later, compared to voice memo after voice memo on my phones. You just never know when you’ll be inspired by something.
How does Detroit inspire you and your music?
Detroit inspires me a lot from how we’re made with thick and tough skin to have that diehard mentality to pursue what we want to pursue and the things that we need. We are the home grounds of Motown, the classical music that was made. I’m proud to say that I’m from Detroit and realize that it really means something.
Can you talk about your new single, “Go Crazy?”
That’s with my guy Lorenzo Burez, a close buddy who’s like a brother. Every week I was at his house, recording. “Go Crazy” symbolizes the whole kickoff for the album, which is titled Energy Never Lies. It basically symbolizes that you trust your energy in any situation you might be in, whether it’s business, creativity, family or unforeseen circumstances. Every time Burez and I come together, our energy never lies.
What was the inspiration behind your “12 for 20” project?
It’s 12 records and 12 videos from the year 2020. It just signifies the 2020 vision: being consistent on what you want to do, bringing your vision to life, finding out what you can create art within a year no matter the outcome. I actually put a pause on it for June and July due to the COVID-19 situation, and we couldn’t keep up with the videos because they were shutting things down and we didn’t have a way to do video shoots. Now I’m [back to] releasing music for the series.
Who’s your dream collaboration?
[Grammy Award-winning artist and producer] J. Cole. Period. He’s so in tune with his purpose. He taught me the value of creating a world for yourself and monitoring who you allow to live there, who you allow to visit, and who isn’t allowed to enter at all for sanity, peace, freedom and happiness’ sake.
What’s your favorite local spot?
My studio. I’ve created so much there and I’ve given so much to that place, my energy and everything. Every time I step foot in there, I know the energy coming out will going be everything that I want.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be instead?
Probably a superhero.
Follow Pariis Noel on Instagram at @pariis_noel for updates and the latest happenings.