The devastation of Hurricane Katrina is still being felt in many areas of New Orleans 16 years after the massive storm made landfall. That’s especially true of New Orleans East. Viewed as a dangerous “do not enter” zone by many, rapper/entrepreneur 3D Na’ Tee hopes to change that narrative by providing a space for some of the most talented individuals in the city to hone their skills.
The 3rd Ward native partnered with businesswoman Roxanne Moray to create 3D Studios, an addition to Na’ Tee’s Already Legendary Media outfit. The grand opening of the studio in late October was a huge success and brought out some of New Orleans’ finest, including Mac and Curren$y among many others.
3D Studios literally has it all, including a green- screen stage, podcast studio, and recording and photography studios.
3D Na’ Tee tells Zenger new music is on the way, talks about being a positive influence in New Orleans and opens up about why she launched the new studio.
Percy Crawford interviewed 3D Na’ Tee for Zenger.
Zenger: As if making seemingly everyone’s top 3-5 list of female rappers right now wasn’t enough, now you’re showing off your entrepreneurial skills with 3D Studios. What was the process to opening this amazing all-purpose space?
3D Na’ Tee: Back in 2019 I met with a local business owner named Roxanne Moray. I have another company called Already Legendary Media, where I sent out local photographers, videographers for video shoots, commercial, and real estate property shoots. She had some commercial property out here that she needed some drone footage for. I didn’t have anybody on staff that was available that day, so I ended up having to do it myself. I wasn’t going to cancel. I met with her and did what I had to do.
I ended up leaving, and someone who actually recommended me to her told her who I was because she was happy with the work. They told her I was an artist, so she checked me out. Then she decided to tell me about this space that she had. A few months later, we met up and I understood there was a shared vision to pour back into the community.
Me being a hip-hop artist, and hearing so many artists talk about leaving New Orleans and going to Atlanta, going to New York, going to these other places, not because they don’t love New Orleans, but because they feel they can have better opportunities in those places. I wanted to be a resource, I wanted to create a space that could be a resource, and she shared that vision, and that’s why we created 3D Studios.
Zenger: Was this the vision, to create a one-stop-shop multimedia studio?
3D Na’ Tee: Yeah! I do a lot of things not just music and sometimes people don’t understand that. And I feel like a creator is a creator. Not just a rapper, not just a singer, we are creators. I may come in here one day and I want to record a song, and then bump into an artist and I hear them creating a song that I have a dope concept to shoot a video for, why should I be held back? I want this place to be a creative hub because I know that I am not limited by my ability to be able to create a rap song.
I’ve directed music videos for several artists, I’ve done certain things that if I didn’t have the resources myself or didn’t believe in myself enough, or have my own self-start motivation, then I would not have done that. I want this place to be somewhere where you may walk past and see a photographer taking some dope shots, and you may want to book a session. That’s what this space is for. Hell yeah, I want it to be a spot where creators come to create.
Zenger: There is so much talent in New Orleans that had to outsource their talent to other cities and at times states, whether studio time, photo sessions or a podcast studio. How important was it for you to keep it on the home front?
3D Na’ Tee: It was important. I was thinking about this after the grand opening. People ask me all the time, who am I inspired by? Who are my favorite artists? Seeing the way that people came out for the grand opening and seeing their excitement, I just felt proud. I was inspired by the people of New Orleans. Curren$y came out — this guy has done incredible things as far as being an artist and an independent entrepreneur, and he committed to a membership here at 3D Studios because we have memberships here. He didn’t have to. We had legendary Mac come through the studio. He invited Curren$y.
This is exactly what I wanted the studio to be. These people seeing the potential and not just them coming and being able to create something but putting your people on. Like, “Nah man, you gotta come and see this.” To have those monumental figures from New Orleans to believe in the studio in that way, it is an amazing feeling. So I know that we are off to a great start.
Zenger: How hands-on were you with the development aspect of it?
3D Na’ Tee: I’ll tell you this, I am great at DIY [Do It Yourself]. I am very hands-on. The staff we have here… my business partner, she is great at interior design. Everywhere you see gray, that’s me — it’s my favorite color. She was tired of me saying, “I think this should be gray.” I just think gray is such a beautiful color because everything isn’t black and white.
That was my concept, but that’s what I added when it came to the interior design. More so with me, I was hands-on when it came to the equipment, making sure everything sounded right. The acoustic paneling that we have here. When I first saw the building, there were wires hanging everywhere.
This building had not been touched on the 11th floor since Hurricane Katrina (2005). That was very important to me, just being able to pour back into New Orleans East. People have this stigma of how they feel about certain sections of New Orleans. I know because I grew up in the 3rd Ward. I know how people give up on certain areas, not because that is what they should do, but because they don’t understand it.
What I’m creating here at the studio… some people don’t follow their dreams because they don’t have anybody believing in them and pouring into it. Being a visionary and being able to walk through this space and seeing what it could be was important. I had to be hands-on with it because if I didn’t do it, who else was going to?
Zenger: I will play devil’s advocate and ask why New Orleans East? There is crime there. [Hurricane] Katrina destroyed that area. Why not open this studio elsewhere?
3D Na’ Tee: Why would I go elsewhere when this place needs it? Who else would do it if I don’t do it, and I’m not hearing people believe in the way that they should? You know the saying, “You gotta be the change that you want to see in the world.” Why would I go to Metairie? Why would I go to New York or Atlanta if this place needs it? As a businesswoman, I stand out here. I feel like everywhere I go in New Orleans, I get love, I get respect. If you saw the grand opening and the way people showed up, was excited walking through the studio, the professionalism. Why wouldn’t I? It needs it, so that was very important.
Zenger: You seem to continuously think out of the box as not just a rapper, but a businesswoman and entrepreneur. How accurate is that statement?
3D Na’ Tee: I don’t even know what a box is. When it comes to art, it is very subjective. Everybody is an artist, everybody is a creator, I happen to be someone that can write a song, I went to NOCCA [New Orleans Center for Creative Arts], I can draw really well. I can draw a picture of you and it would look just like you. I’m very good when it comes to just art in general. I never saw a limit.
I don’t believe in “no.” If you tell me no, that just means that you and I can’t do it together. I’m going to go and find my “yes” somewhere. That’s just your “no”. I don’t have to live with your “no.” I’m not taking that with me. I believe in my “yes.” When it comes to thinking outside of the box, I have to. That’s the only way that I was able to survive. That’s the only way I’m able to stay sane. I had to unlearn a lot of things. If I think inside of the box, how am I going to live the life that I know I deserve? Why would I stay in a box? I don’t want to live in a box.
Zenger: It’s easy to look at people like Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and 50 Cent as rappers who became successful entrepreneurs. But on the female side of music, there is Beyonce and Rhianna, and I’m sure there are plenty of others, but you are beginning to fill that same space, and being from New Orleans, makes it that much more special, in my opinion.
3D Na’ Tee: The main reason it’s special for me is that I didn’t see that example. I don’t have kids, but I have a nephew now. I have a huge family. I have cousins who look up to me. I want to pour back into them and have them believing in themselves. I’m going to go back to my momma, a lot of these things that I’m teaching myself, how to believe in myself, and do certain things. My mother wasn’t taught that. You go to school, you find a job, you work and you die.
I find a lot of power by just being able to share the belief that I have in myself and my dreams, and these things that I’m creating, and share that with my momma. I bought my momma a journal the other day. I’m like, “Ma, your life is not over. You need to write out some things that you want to manifest and create. Everything is at your fingertips.” It starts with my family first.
Now being able to have people walk through these halls and believing in themselves is all I care about. If people believe in themselves, I think it would be a greater world. That’s where all the hatred and negativity comes from, when you don’t have anything to believe in. If people start by believing in themselves, they are going to be so occupied chasing their dreams, you don’t have time to hate. You don’t have time for violence. So that’s how I feel I am doing my part.
Zenger: Where would you like 3D Studios to be in the next five years?
3D Na’ Tee: In five years, 3D Studio will not just be a studio, but I also want to have this building become a place where there is a recreational center on the seventh and eighth floors. My brother is in the mental health space; I want to create a center for that. Mental health is very important. My father committed suicide. I have friends who suffer from anxiety. I have friends who suffer from bipolar disorder.
I think in the black community we don’t talk about that much. It’s kind of taboo. I want 3D Studios to not only be a recording studio, a production space, but I want to create a community where people come to be uplifted. They come to create and better themselves. It’s starting with just being a space for art, but I want it to be a space for development. I’m still building that out. I can’t say exactly what it looks like now, but I want it to be a place where people come to better themselves.
Zenger: The studio looks amazing. I plan on keeping up with the progress of the studio and your music. Thanks for your time. Is there anything you want to add?
3D Na’ Tee: Having Mac at the grand opening — I grew up on Mac. Uptown 3rd Ward, we grew up around the corner from each other. To see how he was wowed and had an appreciation for the space, that was so dope. He didn’t have to do that. I was excited to see some of the New Orleans creatives there. We had some dignitaries, some politicians speaking. I know how that feels.
It’s like, OK, here is the program, but where is the studio? I saw people circle back and their whole vibe changed. They thought they were just coming to a recording studio, but when they walked through and went through all the spaces, each room has a vibe. It meant the world to me to have my momma and my brothers next to me cutting the ribbon.
I just finished a song with Black Thought and The Game, it’s a bunch of guys on it, and I’m the only female on it. I’m having a moment. I am so excited. I am working on my new album as well, so be on the lookout for that coming soon.
Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Judith Isacoff
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