Why Detroit hip-hop artist Pariis Noel wants to be a pipeline of positivity for the city


  • Courtesy of Pariis Noel

Davon Jordan, who performs inspirational and hype hip-hop as Pariis Noel, says he’s been spending the last few months “trailblazing and landscaping.”

“During the whole pandemic and everything, I just kind of took the time to really relax and reflect and got some time to sit down and really iron out the things that we always said we wanted to do,” he says. “I feel pretty blessed.”

In that time, the 28-year-old Detroit native secured a distribution deal with Roc Nations’s independent artist platform Equity, finished an album with collaborator Lorenzo Burez, released the duo’s single “Go Crazy,” and landed a track in a Netflix original animated film, Fe@rless, out Aug. 14.

Noel says he's been spitting fire on the mic since the age of 10 when get went head-to-head with his older brother during family party-turned-rap battle. He was introduced to the world of hip-hop through the 1984 breakdance movie Breakin,' which he says was a turning point.

“I've had my reservations, but I've never had a point where I'm like, this is not going to cut it because it's a special feeling that I have. I can't let this thing go. I just can't,” he says of music. “When you devote yourself and years of your life to something you want to see it through.”

He compares his professional and creative progress to exercise.

“You're watching your body change and you're watching your health change and you're watching your goals being met and things of that nature. You're continuing to push that's where the fire is lit with that.”

Noel's fire is exactly what led him to build a relationship with Rel Carter of Roc Nation, who just so happens to be the nephew of hip-hop mogul Jay-Z. Noel was contacted by Carter's camp for an independent artist showcase, and though he didn't get the reaction he had hoped for, Carter name-dropped Noel on a podcast as an artist to watch, at which point Noel made it his mission to make a serious connection with Carter, putting aside Carter's famous family.

“I don't look at him for that,” Noel says. “I look at him for the character, his heart and how he's just a good guy. So I never ask him for anything or mention anything he just comes to me with opportunity.”

One such opportunity was getting a song onto a movie soundtrack. Carter was elected to do music supervision for Netflix's Fe@rless, an animated superhero film starring Yara Shahidi, Gabrielle Union, Miguel, Fat Joe, and Jadakiss. Carter sent over a hook and offered Noel and Burez to alternate writing some open verses.

Despite his recent success, Noel has no intention of leaving the city that carved him into the person he said he was meant to be, which is a combination of an “artist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, community activist, and father.” Though he's looking forward to building his network of creatives, collaborating with different artists, and performing throughout the country (he was scheduled to perform at the Artrepreneur Festival in Brooklyn this summer, but the event was canceled) Noel says that it's his goal to make sure there's enough opportunity in Detroit for people to be able to do what they're passionate about.

“All those titles, you know, it all ties back to how can I become a pipeline to bring back the opportunity to really be the change that I would see in the city. You got to come at it with a selfless mentality, you know? I want my son to grow and have opportunities,” he says.

“And I don't want to feel like he has to run away from his home town based on narratives that are created or anything that they're trying to portray like, 'Oh, I have to go elsewhere to love and acceptance.' At the end of the day, I still have roots here. I still have family here. This is where my love is, you know? So I don’t look at this like I have to go to L.A. or Atlanta because that's not who made me.”

Fe@rless is currently streaming on Netflix.

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