“He just has this way of telling his truthful, eye-opening story in such a manner that is not only compelling but it’s told in such a way that it’s like he’s reliving every moment as he makes his way throughout each narrative. Not only this, but he is able to incorporate some of that trademark West Coast bounce into his music so that way it doesn’t sound like he’s just preaching to you, as it sounds with so many other artists in the industry.” – Lyrical Lemonade
“MBNel wasn’t built to lose.” – XXL
“I’m not afraid to delve deeper than what’s on the surface,” explains MBNel. “I make music like a journal.” From South Stockton’s 8th Street, Nel’s accounts of life can be grim. He achieved millions of streams through rapping about navigating the codes of the streets in the Northern California city, his Filipino-American upbringing, and trying to make a way through music. However, the 25-year-old is challenging himself and his sound. Songs like the 2021’s “Opulent,” “Shooting Stars,” and “Manifested” have been close to the heart while demonstrating depth and range that transcends rap music. Those three tracks—each at 2 million streams or better—have showcased Nel’s melodic delivery, honest songwriting, and ability to uplift audiences around the globe. “I’ve been experimenting with a whole bunch of different sounds,” he shares as he continues to amplify and expand a self-made career with a series of dynamic singles in the upcoming months. The Muddy Boyz/EMPIRE artist is planning one of his most personal and heartfelt songs to date with “Fadeaway,” as well as the Kendra Jae collaboration, “Toxic.”
Nel is the oldest child of first-generation immigrants. “They came to the States for a better life, and they sacrificed a lot to come out here,” he explains. Music was prominent in the house, as Nel’s father is a DJ and musician, who exposed him to different genres and generations of music. As a teen, the artist wrote rhymes in class and casually rapped. However, by age 19, things kicked in when he took his money from a menial job and financed a music video for “Love My Gang.” “It got a little bit of traction—20,000 views hella fast,” he recalls of the 2017 visual. “I just kept movin’ on with it.” Nel’s neighborhood recognized his extraordinary talent, and more videos followed. “Everyone around me was super supportive,” he says, putting the Muddy Boyz acronym in his name. “No one in the city was doing that and getting that type of light on it.” When MBNel made “Pose To,” he noticed he had a following as diverse as his upbringing. “I woke up the next morning, and a whole bunch of outlets supported it. Lil Baby had followed me; Say Cheese had posted the video.” Through talent and a unique story, MBNel became a Stockton standout. He went all in on music, applying his diverse taste to picking catchy beats.
Since 2017, MBNel has leveled up. 2019’s “Feelings” garnered over 16 million streams across platforms. In lyrics, Nel rapped his reality with a strong voice and a sharp perspective over a captivating sample-based beat. The “In My City” video grabbed over 10 million views. His track “Born To Win” was frequently used by the San Francisco 49ers during the pregame warm-up. Nel collaborated with BLXST, Drakeo The Ruler, Mozzy, Peezy, and joint projects with $tupid Young. However, 2021 marked a breakthrough. After appearing at L.A.’s Rolling Loud, MBNel sold out his tour in support of No Hard Feelings. “As my shows progressed, I noticed a different crowd,” he says. His base expanded as he gained popularity with women and fans beyond Rap.
In 2022, MBNel seeks self-expression instead of just another album. Focusing on singles, he says, “It allows me to showcase each song. Whereas a project, sometimes the songs I mess with can get lost or skipped.” Nel is raising the stakes with care and patience. He prepares to release “Fade Away,” a dedication to a fan he’d met who tragically took her life. Nel confronts depression and suicide with melody alongside a melancholy piano and guitar in the studio. “I never did anything like that before,” he admits. In “Toxic,” Nel links with Def Jam artist Kendra Jae to confront a doomed relationship in his first ever musical collaboration with a female artist. With versatility in his content and delivery, MBNel is flaunting the depth of his story and talent.