MBNel has embodied the hunger and hustle of Stockton, California's 8th Street, and shared it with the world. The second-generation Filipino-American artist with nearly 40 music videos on YouTube and over one million views has only broadened through his most courageous release to date, late 2023's 8 To Infinity. The Muddy Boyz/EMPIRE album expands on Nel's melodies, musicality, and vulnerability. Songs like "Tear Drops" and "Restart" show MBNel's star power and his resonance with new global audiences on a project that features artists such as Mozzy, Yung Bleu, and Millyz. "I've been experiencing different things, and I'm telling a different story musically. I feel that I'm going to a new place creatively," Nel admits. He is bringing 8th Street along for the ride. The album also features the focus track “Bag Chasin.”
Nel is the oldest child of first-generation immigrants. He first applied his family's tireless work ethic to his endeavors in the street, then the studio. His father is a DJ, which exposed him to music at an early age. In his teens, Nel took to rapping. At 19, the Muddy Boyz artist looked for an alternative to a dead-end life in the street. He took money from a menial job to finance his "Love My Gang" music video. Through talent and a unique story, MBNel became a Stockton standout. Lil Baby followed him online. Say Cheese posted his videos. Thousands listened in.
Since his 2017 breakthrough, MBNel has shown that he is built to last. 2019's "Feelings" garnered over 35 million streams across platforms, while the "In My City" video achieved over 10 million views. Nel brought new attention to his Northern California city while attracting fans worldwide. His song "Born To Win" is often used by the San Francisco 49ers. He performed at Los Angeles' Rolling Loud after selling out his 2021 West Coast run, and did a packed London ‘22 set. In 2023, Nel shared the stage with Ez Mil for a sold-out show at New York City's SOB's as part of Filipino Heritage Month. The October event followed an appearance on Ez Mil's Shady/Aftermath debut, where executive producer Eminem also guested. "It was a crazy feeling," Nel recalls. "He is a dope dude," Nel says of Mil, who has cited him as an inspiration.
Inspiring and motivating others is core to MBNel's 2024 vision. He is visiting the Philippines for the first time since childhood. It marks his first time to visit as a professional artist, along with other planned stops in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. "I'm really excited to go back," he shares. "I want to shoot some videos. I want to meet the kids in the trenches," he adds, with plans to bring gifts to the youth who can see an international star with a shared identity. "A lot of my music is speaking on life experiences. It's like a journal that I express through music." Meeting people who can relate and benefit has only charged Nel's battery to make bolder, better songs.
Even as he grows his following and expands his range, he is true to his roots. He is planning to launch at least two Stockton business ventures in 2024. 8 To Infinity includes "Like Me," the latest Mozzy collaboration. Nel considers his Sacramento neighbor a Top 5 artist, and the two connected upon Mozzy's release to make a moment. He crossed the coast to bring New England's hard-nosed rapper Millyz as well as Mobile, Alabama's melodic Yung Bleu. Nel says, "I want to collaborate more, make different styles, and experiment."
Nel's gruff voice sounds rich and dynamic on 8 to Infinity, and it is all by design. "From starting where I come from, and taking it to a whole different height, was never seen," he explains. MBNel turns the "8" on its side to show that anything is possible, as he lives out that message and sets out to prove that opportunities for those who dream big are truly infinite.