Nate grew up in the south side of Richmond, Virginia. As a kid, he was thrust into family adversities. He spent the majority of his childhood living with his Grandmother. Little did he know, the lack of structure on the outside was creating something within. It was somewhere around his senior year at Manchester High when he realized that his calling was to “Create.” Shuffling through college letters and athletic scholarship offers, Nate became the first in his family to go to college. To this day, he’s continued to find new ways to distinguish himself. Most recently, he was invited to cater for a government organization on Capitol Hill.

When Nate and I spoke to set up the interview, I told him I wanted to sit down with him in the environment where he does his best work. His response was, “Well that’s my own kitchen.” So Boom! The meeting place was set. When I arrived, Nate, in a true culinary fashion, had all of his ingredients lined up and ready to go. We spent the first few minutes rappin’ about the latest Nike trends. What’s dope right now and what boutiques to find exclusive stuff. He told me about his experiences at the Nike Stadium Store in Milan. I was actually impressed with Nate’s knowledge of the brand. I told him we’re going to get him a Dri-Fit chef apron with 3M and a Swoosh on it. We were cracking up. Meanwhile he turns up the volume on the macbook and cranks up the stove. On the menu was Grilled Pesto Chicken Breast over Spinach Alfredo Pasta with White Truffle Oil. While he was doing his thing I opened up with the first question to this week’s #ShineHard conversation.

What is your passion?

Nate: Man, I have a lot of things that I’m passionate about. To list a few its food, music, and fashion. I’m a very visually stimulated type of person. I like what’s different. I don’t like the same anything, ever.

Me: Yessir! I would recommend everyone check out your Tumblr.

When in life did you realize that these were your passions?

Nate:  In the kitchen, maybe around age 11, I got tired of my Grandmother making the same dishes all the time so I started making my own meals. I got good at it. As an artist, it was probably around senior year of high school when I accepted that my interests were on the creative side. The thing is, I have always loved these things. I just didn’t know you could take the things you were passionate about and turn it into a living and make a lot of money in the process.

Who did you look up to growing up?

Nate: Well at the time, my uncles. It’s crazy though because my oldest uncle was killed out of petty street violence and my other uncle is doing like 40 years in prison. I know they weren’t the best role models, but they were all I had. I owe a lot to my Grandmother, man. She saw me headed in that direction and got me out of there.

How did your upbringing effect you?

Nate: It just made me want to be totally different. Not to say that I’m better or anything like that, but coming from the environment where things were just tough and rough for no reason, I just couldn’t accept it.

What obstacles have you had to overcome?

Nate: Well growing up, I lacked guidance. Wasn’t shown how to take advantage of opportunities that I had. No one really gave me that talk like,“College is important, you should pursue it.” I had football scholarships and just didn’t know how valuable that was. One of the few things I regret. But on the flip side, it made me a better brother. I give my younger brother all the advice and guidance that I didn’t have.

Are there any Artists or Entertainers that have guided your work?

Nate: Of course man, I mean who doesn’t look up to Jay-z? I like him as an artist, and I like him as a business man. Um, you gon’ probably think I’m crazy for this one.. I like Kanye West! I like how he is always vocal about how he feels. I’m a super realist, so I respect his point of view. Even if I don’t agree with it, I’m always intrigued with the fact that he’s going to tell you how he feels no matter what. I can identify with that.

On the chef side, its the same kind of thing; Gordon Ramsay. I like him because he know’s his sh*t and everyone knows he knows his sh*t, so he can do and say whatever he wants. They know he’s right. He’s simply the best at what he does. What a great space.

What type of things motivate you to succeed?

Nate: One thing I hate is when people prejudge someone and they don’t even know anything about that person. I can be really sensitive about what people perceive me as. So when people doubt me or try to put me in a box, I just love proving people wrong. I get a little high off of that. *Laughs*

Johnny: Yup! People will try to marginalize you so quick. “If no one thinks you can then you have to.”

So what brought you into Event Productions?

Nate: The whole club promoting thing, a lot of people don’t know that that is just a small part of me. It’s not what I’m locked into. Its fun, but I’m not lost in that life. Started out sophmore year in college as just something to do. I did one party and people started asking “When is the next one?!” So I did another one then another one and it was even helping me with my tuition. I’ve been promoting for 10 years, 7 years in DC with DT Nation.

How have you connected your DT Nation experience with your Culinary expertise?

Nate: Well, it’s food, fashion, and music. I’d actually like to leave the nightlife party scene and do private dinner parties. It would be targeting high end brands. What I would do is host dinner parties at dope locations. Museums, rooftops, etc. Maybe for the staff of BMW, Louis Vuitton, Nike or something. They would not only enjoy my food and nice DJ, but have their products on the people that are there. Create an exclusive visual experiences and capture it through video.

What frustrates you the most about today’s culture?

Nate: Man, people lack originality. They just copy everything. I’m not saying there’s NO originality, but there are so many people that are doing what they see somebody else doing. I think it’s unfortunate that people don’t come up with their own concepts and profit off it. Some people fake it til they make it, and some people just fakin’ it forever. Mr. Me Too’s everywhere.

Johnny: Yeah bro, outcomes seem to be much greater when you just do YOU. There’s never any traffic when you stay in your own lane.

If cooking and events were not an option, what would Nate Hopkins be doing right now?

Nate: Pursuing my dream as an A&R. I moved to New York after college. I was chasing my dream to work in the music industry. For a couple weeks I was going office-to-office to the major record labels trying to get my foot in the door. Its funny, outside these offices it would always be people handing out demos trying to get someone to listen to their music. I was trying to get a marketing job! But yeah, it paid off because I earned an intern position with Universal Music Group. Learned a lot there in a year and a half and even bumped into Jay-z a couple times, maybe I would circle back…

What’s the #1 factor to your success?

Nate: The #1 factor to my success is being able to constantly reinvent myself. When you’re able to do multiple things it allows you multiple opportunities. I just continue to add new things to my skill set.

What advice would you give to up and coming artists looking for guidance?

Nate: Educate yourself on what you’re passionate about. At the end of the day, your success and career path is solely up to you. No one can take the steps for you. Create a plan, implement that plan, and Follow Through! If you don’t try you will never know. Don’t fear failure.

Johnny: Create a Plan on paper and Follow Through. Nate, glad to have you as a part of the @ShineHardFamily.

Interested in learning more or connecting with Nate?

Twitter/Instagram: @Nate_Hopp

Tumblr: high-lvl.tumblr.com

Email: Nate.Hopkinz@gmail.com