Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line


At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions


Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists


‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam


‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6

Artist Profile: Estee Nack is Massachusetts Rap at its Best

Lynn, Massachusetts-born rapper Estee Nack is the embodiment of authenticity in hip-hop.
Lynn, Massachusetts-born rapper Estee Nack is the embodiment of authenticity in hip-hop. By Courtesy of Ramon '1000WORD$' Lazo
By Ryan S. Kim, Crimson Staff Writer

Lynn, Massachusetts-born rapper Estee Nack is the embodiment of authenticity in hip-hop. With a vivid storytelling style, gritty lyricism, and profound spirituality, Nack has become a pillar of the East Coast underground. His work reflects a fusion of his Lynn upbringing, Five Percent Nation teachings, and an unyielding drive to evolve artistically. As a result, Nack has cultivated a dedicated fan base, some of who resell the rapper’s album vinyl for as much as $350, and has earned prominent feature placements with the likes of President Westside Gunn.

Nack's rap career began with Tragic Allies, a group from Lynn started by Purpose and the late Fuge. Eventually adding Nack, Codenine, and Paranom to their ranks, Tragic Allies released multiple full length projects during the late ’00s and early 2010s such as 2011’s “The Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil.” The crew’s music represented a continuation of the ’90s boom-bap sound pioneered by the likes of Wu-Tang Clan.

In 2014, Nack and the Tragic Allies went on a multi-city tour with their frequent collaborator and Wu-Tang Clan affiliate, Killah Priest.

“[Purpose and Fuge] had already graduated from high school, when I went into high school,” Estee Nack said in an interview with The Harvard Crimson. “They was already doing their thing, I just came in and got added on after the fact. And then the rest of the guys, throughout the years added on as well and we became more of a collective.”

Growing up in Lynn, a city home to a thriving contemporary underground rap scene, Nack honed his craft and developed the distinct style that would come to define his music. Drawing inspiration from his environment, Nack's verses often delve into the reality of life in Lynn, tackling themes of struggle, perseverance, and triumph such as on his 2020 track “Wedontslip.” Born to Dominican parents in Lynn, Nack credits graffiti with exposing him to American pop culture and the artistic landscape of hip-hop.

“My first [graffiti] throw up was actually on the side of my house,” Nack said. “This is the early ’90s. From there, I kept on writing. I never was out bombing or anything, just hand styles, fat markers, shit like that. That was pretty much when I started walking and talking hip-hop.”

Nack's unwavering commitment to his craft is evident in his extensive discography, featuring numerous solo projects, collaborations, and guest appearances. His recent album with acclaimed producer V Don, titled "BRAP!” showcases Nack's exceptional skills as an emcee and his ability to navigate diverse soundscapes.

Nack's artistic evolution has been shaped in part by his long standing collaboration with al.divino, who is Nack’s junior by ten years. The two first met over a decade ago at MichaelAngelo's studio, and their creative chemistry was instant. In the years since, Nack and al.divino’s partnership has yielded multiple full length projects including 2018’s “Triple Black Diamonds” and its highly-anticipated sequel released last fall. “When I saw him at Michelangelo's, I just felt like I needed to tell him how great he was,” Nack said about al.divino. “God spoke to me and it was just that divine spark. I told him, ‘Yo, don't ever let nobody tell you that you're not great.’ ”

“He was young at the time and had an unstable upbringing,” Nack added. “I felt like I needed to say that to him. I could see that [music] is an outlet for this kid, for his trauma and pain.”

It was around the time that he met al.divino that Nack became a member of the Five Percent Nation, a cultural movement influenced by Islam that was founded in New York City during the 1960s. Nack introduced a young al.divino to the teachings of the Five Percent before the pair started to make music together.

Since their first meeting, Nack and al.divino have become one of the best hip-hop duos to emerge from the Northeast. “We didn't make music right away, we knew each other for about a half a decade before doing anything,” the rapper said. “I just wanted him to have a safe place for him to come and express himself. He used to come to the spot and make like 16 beats in 15 minutes and then dip.”

Al.divino’s solo beat-making sessions eventually developed into recording sessions with Nack. Each of the duo’s releases showcases Nack's prowess as a lyricist, blending gritty realism with Five Percent Nation spirituality [IN ORDER] to create an improvisatory style that the rapper and al.divino have termed “the splash.” According to the rapper, it is inspired, in part, by the anti-formalist approaches of famous jazz composers like John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman.

“The focus is not telling you this story in plain words, but telling you my story through sound and feeling and emotion,” Nack said. “I might have a gruff voice on one track. I might have a metal voice. I might have gotten fucked up last night, but I'm feeling it today, so you can hear it in my voice. Maybe I'm not grabbing the beat the way I did yesterday. That's where ‘the splash’ came from.”

Nack, al.divino and their “splash” style have caught the attention of industry heavyweights, including Griselda's Westside Gunn. Nack was featured as a primary vocalist on Gunn’s July 2022 album “Peace ‘Fly’ God” along with Griselda rapper Stove God Cooks. The Lynn rapper also has an unreleased tape in the works with Gunn called “Nacksaw Jim Duggan.”

“[Westside Gunn] knows I'm busy trying to secure the legacy of my city,” Nack said. “He’s doing the same thing for Buffalo and Atlanta, so you know, we got our hands full. We just come together and work.”

—Staff writer Ryan S. Kim can be reached at

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.