Way to Success
29-year-old nemanja Stevanovic alias NEO, from Belgrade, Serbia, was first
introduced to the music industry by friends and fellow local trapers & rappers,
Mattiastani and Mudboj. He released his first independent single, “Joker,” in 2020.
The single is about vices and notoriety using distinctly Belgrade Blokovi slang over a
laid-back beat. Over the few several years, NEO continued to drop singles with
Mudbojz, a trap collective.
Now, in 2023, he’s just dropped his first longer-length project, called NEO - 22.
Produced by Mudbojz, which features a variety of atypical beats, is anything but
standard. For this album Neo was inspired by a everyday hardship, previous
relationship and a desire to let go of the past. From 2020 to 2023, though, NEO
says he simply had to grow up for this project to come to fruition.
Since the very beginning NEO stays true to his roots, often collaborating with other
trap Belgrade based independent artists and bringing elements of his eclectic
music interest and cultural background into his music.
In his own words, if he didn’t live in Belgrade, he’d probably be a “different person
with a whole different message,” and he expresses that appreciation through his
For the purpose of this project, and in order to produce desired music video and
album promotional material, I have recently spoke to NEO about his career so far,
success and failure, and what’s next for him.
How did you get into music and what did that journey look like?
I started music in 2019/2020 through my friends. As far as wanting to be like, okay,
stepping into a microphone and wanting to actually do it, that was just being
around them so much because they had already been recording for quite some
time. It was kind of that spark of like, “Man, I can do this and I have something to
say!” because I’ve always been around music and I knew I was going to have
something to do with music.
Just growing up, just being around my family and friends, just going down in
Blokovi, Belgrade, and just being around the environment down there - growing up
through the crazy 90’s – has given me so much to talk and criticize. The music graft
ceme from my friends, being around them, learning from how they do things, and
trying to help them out.
Speaking of your influences, who are your biggest inspirations?
Honestly, not a lot of musicians, really. I definitely want to say Rasta, learning about
him as I’ve gotten older. , of course Coby. And ironically, EKV, because I looked up
to Milan Mladenovic message as far as how he was as a man. He had a very, very
big influence; he had a voice, and that was the thing I wanted to learn. For artists,
being able to have a voice - his voice carry deeper than just the music itself. And I
think that’s something that I strive to work on.
You mentioned the importance of having a voice. Do you know what message
you want to share?
I can definitely say that I don’t consider myself just a trapper. When I tell people
what kind of music I make - I make people music, and it’s for my people because I
come from the neighborhoods that a lot of these people, young artists, or youth
are coming from. And that people music, it takes all forms. It’s not about you being
a gangster, it’s not about trying to look cool for everyone. Just be yourself, that’s
what my message is, because I never was one to fit in. Be honest with yourself.
Don’t fake the funk. Stay true to your family, stay close to the people that love you.
Make sure you’re not doing no *******, and make sure you take care of your
As an artist, how do you consider yourself?
I consider myself a new artist. Yeah, I’ve put out songs before, yeah I have the
relationships that I have, but I’m a new artist. I think I’m just starting out, but never
will I say I’ve made it. I think that just because you put out music and you gain
attention or you got a thousands listeners, whatever it might be, that doesn’t mean
you’ve made it. Streaming platforms have changed so much over the years, and
coronavirus even has artists literally scrambling to figure out what they need to do.
So until you get into a position where you don’t have to worry about those things…
Yeah, no one’s made it yet.
How do you envision your musical trajectory? What’s next for you?
My musical trajectory is honestly up to me. I just want to keep going and that’s the
best advice I ever got: to keep going. No matter what you’re going through, just
always keep fighting. I have a EKV’s quote on my ribs. It’s like, “Ja sam decak iz
vode….” And I stand by that to this day, because once you’ve stopped doing things
that keep you going, you’re gonna fail. Failure is something that’s in the eye of the
beholder, because you know what your failure is; you know what you was trying to
aim for. And once you stop trying to aim for it, then you’ve failed.