Kentucky recording studio lifting the state’s hip hop artists to the top

Published 5:27 am Sunday, November 21, 2021

Hip hop artists can be found across the state, and Frankfort artist Sensei Nowa is helping them to the forefront with his recording studio Rise the Mag.

“We’re known across Kentucky,” Nowa said. “We share everyone’s music that is working. We have relationships with all of the radio stations.”

Nowa opened the studio at 33 Grandview Drive in March 2020.

“We built it ground up,” he said. “It’s sound proof and has state of the art everything.”

At the studio, along with recording music, artists can also shoot music videos and photos. Nowa also conducts interviews, a podcast and publishes a magazine. Bookings can be made at the studio’s website,

Videos and information on hip hop artists across the state are shared daily on the studios “risethemag” social media platforms.

“Our main goal is to push the platform forward,” Nowa said. “Our Instagram page does 60,000 impressions per day because we share everyone’s music. People submit it to us and we put their music up.”

Nowa’s other main goal is to help artists get signed by record labels. One artist he just helped get signed is Frankfort rapper RillaDaOpp. He recently signed with Bentley Records in New York City.

Originally from the Bronx, New York, Rilla now lives in Frankfort, having moved here to be closer to his family.

“I’ve been into music all of my life,” Rilla said. “When I was 13, I made my first video. I made it using Garage Band.”

While growing up in the Bronx, Rilla said all of his friends and the people surrounding him were rapping, so he joined in. However, he didn’t start taking it seriously until this year.

“Last year I dropped a video, then in February of this year I dropped a second video. It reached 12,000 (views) in a week and got up to 100,000,” he said.

Since then, he has been working to push his image. He started doing shows, and even picked up a show in Memphis, with Drumma Boy. He’s done shows in Cincinnati and he also went to Atlanta to be interviewed for Off the Porch podcast.

“After I got off that interview, that’s when I started dropping more music,” he said. “Then Bentley contacted me with a deal to help me start pushing my music.”

He does interviews with the local radio station, as well as stations in Louisville and in Lexington. His music can be found on all music platforms by searching RillaDaOpp. He is also on all social media platforms.

Rilla said writing songs is his creative outlet.

“When I make my songs, I’m not getting deep into my life and struggles,” he said. “I get into a creative mode. I feel like once the vibe is right, people can relate. It is for show and entertainment. I like experimenting with people and seeing what beats they like.”

His fan base is in the United Kingdom and New York. Rilla said he would like to eventually be able to go to the UK to tour, but right now he wants to stay focused in Kentucky.

“I’m trying to make it and help the people around me,” he said. “When the time is right, I’ll go over there.”

Nowa is also staying busy with his music. He does shows locally and in Cincinnati. Often, Rilla accompanies him on stage.

Nowa recently did a show with Krayzie Bone of Bone Thugs N’ Harmony. He had another show with Krayzie Bone in Cincinnati on Tuesday. On Dec. 12, he will be opening for Lil Will in Cincinnati. Nowa and Rilla will also be in Atlanta Jan. 14, 15 and 16 with Coalition DJs.

“We shine together,” Nowa said.

Along with continuing to help push Kentucky hip hop, Nowa is also focused on helping his community this holiday season.

Nowa has partnered with The Kings Center to do a food and coat drive, which is currently going on and will last through Dec. 12.

“The coats are going to the City of Angels program,” Nowa said.

Food, coats and monetary donations can be dropped off to The Kings Center, 202 E. Third St.

For more information about the drive, contact Deneen Petty at 502-319-2180; Roni Robinson at 502-320-2527; or Sensei Nowa at 270-605-3930.

“It’s a beautiful process to see people coming together,” Nowa said. “People are starting to take notice. Everybody is excited and anticipating what’s going on.”