A Christian rapper with a distinctive flow that's laid-back but committed, Nobigdyl got his big break when his boss fired him for being better at his sideline gig than his main one. Nobigdyl was born Dylan Phillips on November 23, 1991 in Hayward, California (not far from Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area). His family relocated to Bell Buckle, Tennessee when he was nine years old. At ten, Phillips showed he was a natural performer, becoming deeply involved in school theater and dabbling in professional stage work. He also discovered hip-hop, becoming a serious fan of the Notorious B.I.G. and Onyx, and writing his own raps, later recording as part of a hip-hop group known as Southside Epidemic. (Phillips also worked with a short-lived act called Broken Folk, where he rapped while playing the banjo.)
As Phillips delved deeper into hip-hop in his teens, his interest expanded from performing to studio production, and he studied audio and production at Middle Tennessee State University before switching majors to focus on the business side of music. Phillips was managing a hip-hop artist who was a fellow MTSU student when Christian rap star Derek Minor spoke on campus; Phillips was hoping to pitch his artist to Minor, but instead Minor became a mentor to Phillips, urging him to take his music and faith more seriously. In his junior year, Phillips landed an internship with Reflection Music Group; he moved up to a job as merchandise manager with RMG, and later Phillips became road manager for Derek Minor. At the same time, Phillips was writing and recording music in his spare time, with an eye toward putting some of his material on the market. Minor, impressed with Phillips' tracks as Nobigdyl, began talking up his work on social media, until Minor finally told Phillips he needed to focus on his music rather than road-managing him — and fired him to give him the push he believed he needed.
Phillips took Minor's advice, and made Nobigdyl's music his career priority. After dropping a handful of online singles, including "Indie," "Beauty," and "Pot of Gold," Nobigdyl made his first full-length album, Smoke Signal, available as a free download via the online Christian hip-hop magazine Rapzilla in January 2015; around the same time, Nobigdyl was featured on Derek Minor's 2015 album, Empire. Rapzilla named Nobigdyl an artist to watch in their "15 Freshman of 2015" listing, and he released several more tracks through the website that year. Nobigdyl also formed a musical collective with fellow Christian hip-hop artists Mogli the Iceburg and Jarry Manna called Indie Tribe, and in 2016 he made guest appearances on tracks by Nate Jordan, Lawren, Davis Absolute, and others. In 2017 Nobigdyl released Canopy, a ten-song effort that included the successful singles "Purple Dinosaur" and "Treetops." The full-length Solar followed in 2018 and hit number 22 on Billboard's Top Heatseekers chart. ~ Mark Deming