I’m stood outside a coffee shop at Sheffield Students’ union, eager to meet a guy who the local Tab proclaimed as “Sheffield’s answer to Jay-Z“. For those of you don’t know about Naveed, he’s a bit of a local celebrity around Sheffield university campus who had his rise to fame when he published his debut rap video on Youtube “Dream Big”.
Truthfully, I didn’t know much about the guy when I first set out to meet him. The Tab article painted him in a bad light, being mostly satirical and a bit of a piss-take at best. The one thing that I love about journalism is having the opportunity to get inside the minds of interesting people. So, naturally, I was drawn to Naveed, and just had to find out the real story behind all the negativity perpetuated on social-media and within the student bubble.
Mid-contemplation, I see a distinct figure in the distance wearing a classy jacket, a trilby hat, and aviator sunglasses. You can’t go anywhere on campus without somebody knowing who this guy is, and you can see this in the array of high-fives and handshakes, stylishly delivered, on his way towards me. It didn’t end at that either. After videoing a promotion on his snapchat for Mac n’ Cheese, he finally approaches me, fashionably late.
“Student Life guide yeah? Do you want a pot noodle!?”
I’d like to think of myself as a good judge of character, and as soon as I met Naveed I just knew instinctively that there was something unique about him. After all, I set out to be a journalist with the dream of influencing others and meeting inspiring people. As soon as we sat down and I stuck the voice recorder on I knew this was going to be a memorable part of my career.
He takes his sunglasses off, we light up a cigarette, and he starts laying out his story for me.
As it turns out, Naveed wasn’t always the dedicated law student and eager business man he is today. He grew up in a deprived inner-city area before coming to Sheffield as a law student.
“The area where I grew up in Birmingham… a lot of people wanted to be criminals, but at the same time I saw a lot of people making a lot of money, just in the wrong ways. I thought, you know what, I’ve gone to grammar school, I’ve got the grades, but I grew up in that area, so I thought ‘I need to get myself out of here’. I’ve got these people that I know and they’re doing whatever and yeah, its good, but at the same time you’ve got to go out and find yourself.”
After pursuing a degree in Birmingham and dropping out, Naveed set out to move to Sheffield on a mission for success, and took a law degree. Being in a bad environment and surrounded by crime, he felt it was the best way out.
“I went to grammar school and was growing up in a ghetto kind of area, I was always getting into fights. I did boxing when I was a kid. I’d always get people trying to start on me and I’d get people ambushing me for no reason, and I thought, ‘this isn’t the life I want’. Because of the area I lived in, all these people thought I wanted to be a fighter. I’ve always had a dream that I want to be a millionaire and I knew that if I did it illegally it would catch up on me one day. I thought, ‘you know what, we’re gonna do things the legal way’. I knew I could relate to it, so criminal law was what interested me.”
Naveed spent the next three years studying Law at Sheffield university so he could become a criminal lawyer.
“My family were shocked when I said I was going to university because I was in with the wrong crowd.”
He started to make a name for himself around the campus, as well as making a lot of friends along the way.
“When you come to university make as many friends as you can, do not limit yourself because your true friends are the ones you have at home. Meet as many people as you can. Yes, there are people who are gonna get jealous. But the main thing is you make as many friends as you can, just remember that you’re gonna get people who are going to say bad things about you – remember this! Negative people hang out with negative people you will notice tha…”
Suddenly a student wanders up mid-interview with a huge grin on his face and eagerly shakes hands with Naveed.
“You see, there’s a positive person. Positivity attracts positive people.”
On a night out once, Naveed met a few local rappers who were freestyling outside of a club. They inspired Naveed to take a shot at rap music himself, and he made his debut with “Dream Big”, which was posted on YouTube and gained over 20,000 views. As with any big name, he gets his fair share of “haters”.
“I’ve had a hard life and I’ve come to university, but what the haters can’t see is that I’ve took myself out of that sort of place.”
Despite all the hate, Naveed doesn’t let it get to him and still continues to pursue his dreams and spread one simple message…
“Peace and love! All I’m trying to spread peace and love! No matter what you’re gonna do in life, people are going to judge you, just don’t let it get to you. Obviously you’re going be aware of it happening, you are going to be aware but the main thing is… fuck ’em! Stay positive no matter what, and that’s what I’ve always said.”
His pursuits in rap music are what initially sparked the local buzz about him. However, Naveed made it clear that his raps weren’t serious, they were designed to make people laugh.
“It’s because I’m a firm believer in making people’s day. Most people have a bad day and they’re moody all the time. They wake up and they don’t realise how good life is.”
Being a prolific snapchatter these days, Naveed uses the app to document his life and spread his messages of success, happiness, and peace.
One of his biggest inspirations being motivational speaker and author T. Harv Eker, Naveed lives by the the principle that you should appreciate what others have.
“One thing that I’ve realised is that, when you appreciate what someone else has, they are happy and respond well. Most people get jealous. There was this guy in a maserati and I was on my Snapchat. I’d read a book recently called Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker.”
“Eker said, when you see someone with something nice, or in a position that you would love to be in, go up and thank them for being such a good role model. So I went up and shook his hand and thanked him for being a good role model. He opened the door and took me for a spin around Sheffield!”
Although being renowned mainly for his rap music and being a third year law student, Naveed made it clear that his goal isn’t to become a lawyer anymore. He now wants to be a self-made billionaire, and inspire others to do the same. He says with complete certainty that he will be a millionaire by the 9th of May 2019.
“I wanna be able to retire at the age of 40 and be a motivational speaker, so I can motivate others to do exactly what I did and not care what others think. If you don’t believe in yourself then no one else can. How many people come to university? All my friends in Birmingham, they don’t go to university. I’m in the minority that went to university because I said that was gonna do it. You need to visualise success and as long as you keep visualising it, I guarantee that you’ll get there.”
He’s currently taking a gap year from university to pursue an e-commerce business.
“I’ve been studying at university for 3 years and I don’t wanna be a lawyer. Goals do change but the main one doesn’t.”
Many have criticised Naveed for being money-motivated, however he says that this isn’t the case. With dreams of being a motivational speaker, Naveed believes that if he doesn’t make it, then how could he possibly inspire others. Everything he does leading up to his goal of becoming a speaker is just part of the story.
“Money isn’t gonna make me happy, it’s just about getting what I want. I don’t want them things because they’ll make me happy. I want them things because I want them myself. I wanna be financially free, I don’t wanna be living by the system of a 9-to-5 job, working for a pension that I might never get. I want to retire my Mum and Dad so I can give them the lives they never got to live. People are selfish in a sense that they’re only thinking about themselves.”
“People go to university to get a well-paid 9-to-5 job. Law students are seeing salaries online for 50 grand a year, but they’re not thinking bills and taxes. We’re expected to believe that that’s all we’re going to get. As a lawyer you work at least 16 hours a day but you only get paid for 9-till-5. The thing is people don’t realise that – I promise you the main reason that a lot of people aren’t happy is because they’re not happy with their jobs.”
This conversation was no longer looking like an interview, rather a motivational speech. However, I didn’t want to stop Naveed now, so he went on for a good twenty minutes about life and success. Being a first year dropout and coming to Sheffield uni to turn my life around myself, I found this all very inspiring. I could hear the passion in his voice as he preached his life philosophies to me.
“I believe that if every other person did what I do and stays positive, then life would be so much better, even if they don’t have everything right now, even if they don’t want big things they will get it soon enough. Everyone’s got a dream, if your dream is volunteering it’s still a dream. People are not willing to dream big because they’re scared that they won’t be able to do it. I think in my head, ‘what if you’re scared to do it?’ If you think that something’s for you and you don’t think you can do it, then why? Other people have done it. What’s the difference between you and themselves?”
“Your mind is a big thing. In my opinion, your mind includes your dedication and commitment, your mind is 100% your success. Most people believe they need a vehicle, but it’s about the driver. If you sat in the car and didn’t know how to drive a car, then you’re not going to be able to drive it. It’s about the person, you could have the best business, you could have the best tools in the world, but if you haven’t got the right mindset you’re going to fail. You are the vehicle, your business is the vehicle, your mind is the driver.”
“As long as you have the right mindset and you’re willing to believe in yourself and, yes, there will be times when you doubt yourself, but overcome that and say, ‘yeah other people have done it so now I’m gonna do it’. There’s been times when I was younger when I had doubts, but now I’ll be honest with ya, when I get a doubt in my head I laugh.”
“Never say ‘I want to’! Say you are going to! ‘I am going to do this!’ People say they wanna be comfortable, what is comfortable? People don’t even know why they wanna be rich, they say they just wanna be comfortable but what they really want is to be rich. They don’t see how much money it costs to be ‘comfortable’.”
“They think comfortable. They don’t see that if you wanna be rich you will be comfortable. Being comfortable is not having to worry. Comfortable is waking up whenever you want. How are you comfortable if you’re waking up to an alarm clock to a job because you don’t wanna go there? If you have to wake up to someone else’s time then you’re not comfortable.”
“We are already rich, we just wanna be richer. I wanna have good health and good friends when I’m older. I wanna be financially free so I can travel the world. People save up months and months to go on holiday and blow their money. I wanna go on holiday and not have to worry.”
“If your dream is a certain job then work towards it and don’t get it, then what’s the issue. You’ll just be back where you started. Everyone has certain dreams that they talk about but they have hidden dreams inside because they’re scared that they can’t get themselves.”
“Go for them big dreams, something that you really want, and don’t be scared to tell other people. Sometimes in your life you have to put the belief in someone else. fake it till you make it! It’s gonna happen. Do not care what people think!”
“If someone shows you hate then show them love. Some people in life… you can give them as much love as you want but they don’t care. You just carry on moving with your life. Life will get better. Don’t follow your ghetto or bad-boy friends. Don’t waste all your time trying to chase the opposite-sex.”
“Make sure you get them grades, even if you don’t want do anything uni related. Get them grades because it’s a foundation… look, it’s a back up plan guaranteed. I’ll always know it’s there. That’s the main thing, having something there as a backup. You don’t need to go to university to make it, but if you’re going to university even if your mind changes, don’t start messing up on your course. Stick through your course, get your grades, and the degree is always going to be something you can fall back on”
“Successful people don’t think either, or they see both. If you see two opportunities in life then do both, why only choose one? I was at uni and I did rapping and now I’m in business. Employers always ask about what else you’ve done. They don’t want a door that just opens and closes.”
Naveed takes a deep breath and ties everything up with a message to the all the haters out there.
“I haven’t got any time for you guys! If you wanna be hater… don’t come to me later in life when I’ve reached my dreams and try and say that you knew me and try and act like you weren’t a hater, I try my best with people but I’m also a real guy and if you’re a hater, then remain a hater and don’t change into a supporter later.”
I check the recorder, only to notice we’ve been talking for nearly two hours.
“So what’s your dream Thom?”
We both light up a last cigarette and stare of into Sheffield city skyline.
“We’re gonna make it bro. I know we are.”
By Thom Anderson