Zanik. A short and powerful dialect word that starts with the crispy letter Z and means to nag. It was an ideal nickname for graffiti tags and rap lyrics, concluded the 11-year-old Benjamin Hertoghs from Antwerp. Even though he later translated his rap name into English, his lyrics remain in his native language: Dutch. Well, Antwerpish. You won’t hear NAG rap about b*tches, money or haters. Hip-hop clichés and machismo aren’t his thing.
By recording and editing his own voice and music for years, Benjamin developed a solid know-how for podcasting and audio post production without even realizing it. He knows all too well which sounds evoke which feelings, an essential skill in sound design.
“Every week, I love the moment Benjamin enters the studio. Because I know – like the Sweetbox song – ‘everything’s gonna be allright, everything’s gonna be okay’… He’s the type of guy that never lets you down and delivers quality work. And what I especially love about him: he’s always genuinely happy to be there. And that’s exactly why all the colleagues are happy to work with him.”
– Bert Heyvaert, Head of Audio at Het Nieuwsblad
In the early 2000s, there was little interest in Flemish hip-hop. And so the rappers NAG, 2000Wat, Tourist LeMC, Yello, Safi & Spreej and others set up their own label: Eigen Makelij. Because opportunities are best created by yourself. It taught NAG to join forces with others. He used to work alone on albums, from beats to lyrics, to mixing and creating the art work. And still, Benjamin loves his autonomy while making music, but getting creative input from others now is a very welcome source of inspiration.