Since deciding to pursue music in high school, rapper Paige “NCognita” Stevenson has amassed over 25,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, starred in her own Youtube docuseries, and signed a deal with Raedio in partnership with Atlantic Records.
On Friday, April 15, 2022, the 21-year-old Los Angeles native released her debut EP, The Playbook. Stevenson, a junior at Loyola studying urban and electronic music production, said she’s been waiting for this moment since twelfth grade.
“I feel like it’s the right time,” Stevenson said. “I finally have the ears and eyes I want to have on me.
The EP includes the two singles “Gangsta Lean” and “Nothing At All”, along with five other new tracks. Stevenson said each track was carefully chosen to tell its story authentically. The major theme running through them all is its duality and “showing that you can have a balance between this world and this word,” she said.
“It starts with me telling the game about my life, and it ends with how I think life should be,” she said.
Stevenson said she wants listeners to keep an open mind when they hear her music.
“They should listen to every story,” she said. “I have really relatable tracks that can appeal to all audiences.”
Of the seven songs, Stevenson said “Nothing At All” is his favorite record.
“It was the first time that I was personally interested in a track,” she said. “I told my story in the most direct way possible. It was just something different that I did, and I really ended up loving what it turned out to be.
The song’s lyrics detail his college experience and his journey as an artist. She said the lyrics reflect the choices she’s made, the people she’s met and the lessons she’s learned.
“My heartache and pain made me want to work harder and that led to success,” she said. “If you’ve been dealing with love and heartbreak, I think you should listen to this record to know that you can get out of anything and make it better. You can’t get anything out of anything.
Stevenson said his biggest lesson from producing the EP was learning the importance of patience.
“I realized that not everything happens in a controlled way or the way you think,” she said. “Sometimes you just have to let things happen.”
She said she would continue to be fluid as she worked to balance her studies with her career. She wants to use the skills and techniques she learns in her classes and apply them to the real world.
“Coming back to school was a good choice for me,” she said. “I have been surrounded by people who aspire to the same as me and that is an uplifting thing. It is very encouraging.
For Stevenson, having a strong community to lean on has been invaluable.
“The most empowering part of this process is seeing how much love and support I’ve had on my musical journey so far,” she said.
Looking to the future, she said she wanted to continue seeing success.
“I want to be a tycoon,” she said. “I want to be an inspiration to people who are trying to do it like me: people in college, people who work hard, people who do. I just see myself being an inspiration and everything that comes with that comes with that.