“My name comes from the way I play the keys – very quick, fluid and effortless almost reckless and…. dangerous.”
At an early point in his career two-time Grammy award winning producer Nate “Danja” Hills has already amassed a bevy of accolades often reserved for the most seasoned veterans. As an energetic adolescent the Virginia Beach, Virginia native possessed an innate burning desire to create, and his tenacity to fuel his passions proved to be one of his greatest attributes and the driving force towards building an impressionable career.
By age 12, the self-taught musician was playing the drums and keyboard in his church while experimenting with various unconventional rhythms, breaks and sounds. Growing up Danja religiously studied the captivating production skills from celebrated producers such as Teddy Riley, Chucky Thompson and Rodney Jerkins stating “I took note of what they did and how they went about doing it then I went back and applied my own handprint to create what would become my own sound. I didn’t have a mentor per-se as far as teaching me what to do, but I learned instruments and how to produce all of which came relatively naturally.”
Throughout his high school tenure, on the church organ and in his parent’s garage on a Casio keyboard Danja began sculpting his signature sound. “It’s a sticky electric sound with a melody that is as different as it is unique. It stands apart from the rest, and grabs hold of you.” In 1997, he received confirmation that he was in deed on the right path when he heard the eccentric tracks that Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley had produced for burgeoning artists Missy Elliott, Aaliyah and Ginuwine.
Danja’s first major production placement came in 2001 with the song “Why Why” from, New Jack Swing pioneer Teddy Riley’s award winning group, Blackstreet on their last studio album together, Level II. By 2003, Danja met Timbaland, which sparked the duos musical collaboration, setting the stage for the maturing of his own melodic intonation. “I guess you can say I’m a workaholic. I’m always trying to develop a perfect sound for me, something that… feels good.” By this time Timbaland was more than intrigued by Danja’s talents and musical depth, and less than six months later, Danja was invited to Miami to begin working alongside the mega producer.
When asked to recant his relationship with Timbaland Danja describes it as “…a creative partnership. Within our journey he allowed me to express myself as we synchronized our talents. He left me with my own individuality. I am still Danja, but when we collaborate, it’s ‘Tim and Danja’ one magnetic musical force, with two distinct yet harmonious sounds. He treats me with respect and most importantly he views me as an equal.”
In 2004 the beat-making duo created “I’m So Fly” for G-Unit front man Lloyd Banks, “Put You on the Game” for famed west coast rapper The Game and “He’ll Be Back” for Latin pop sensation Jennifer Lopez. In 2006 the ground breaking tunes created for international pop stars Nelly Furtado “Promiscuous” and Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back” and “My Love” featuring T.I. led to their collective Grammy nominations and ultimate wins for Justin’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, which Danja and Timbaland produced nine out of the twelve chart topping tracks.
2007 further proved to be a career defining moment marking the musical wizard as a dominant force both as a producer and visionary in his own right. While 2006 was climatic for both Danja and Timbaland collectively, it was his solo work with pop-princess Britney Spears, on her chart topping number one come back lead single “Gimme More” as well as his additional contribution to her Blackout LP that cemented Danja as a musical force to be reckoned with. Danja maintained his silver bullet momentum in 2008 and 2009, with award winning hits such as “4 Minutes” by iconic superstar Madonna, as well as chart climbing Grammy nominated tracks “Sober” for all American rock star Pink, and “Knock You Down” for explosive R&B newcomer Keri Hilson.
2009 proved to a banner year for the producing sage with the establishment of N.A.R.S. (New Age Rock Stars) a record label committed to ushering in a new era of musical expression and creative artistry while refining the progressive sound of the next generation. N.A.R.S. stands at the center of influence producing, cultivating and shaping distinctive talent that will leave an indelible mark on the global culture and landscape of music. N.A.R.S. is positioned to claim the future of music as their own with the highly anticipated release of New Orleans native and alluring vocalist Luke James and Grammy nominated songwriter Kevin Cossom, both of whom have been groomed under his tutelage and are now primed to embark on their perspective solo journeys.
While there are various inherent and distinctive elements in Danja’s sound, it has continued to develop and morph over the years. “It’s emotional and sexy, constantly changing and evolving. Be it an up-tempo, fun, hard-hitting electronic and energetic beat or a slow and melodic chord I always put emotion into it.” Still consumed and inspired by his innate burning desire to create, Danja envisions his future as one that ushers in a new generation of producers, artists, and songwriters. “I look at those who came before me and I learn from both their accomplishments as well as their mistakes. I’m being as honest as I can with myself about where I am in my career as well as where I aspire to be which is what fuels me.”
Danja and his dexterous talent have landed the coveted position as SESAC’s Songwriter of the year in 2007, 2008 and 2010. In December 2011 Reservoir Management also entered into an exclusive landmark worldwide publishing agreement with Danja and N.A.R.S Records both synonymous for birthing, penning and breathing life into colossal hits.
Armed with inexhaustible talent, copious insight and an unprecedented work ethic, Nate “Danja” Hills is not only securing his place in the fabric of musical history, he is also establishing both himself and N.A.R.S. as treasures and forerunners in the progressive evolution of musical artisans representing the true voice of the next generation.