Norris Finley aka Elevated Thinkin'

Norris Finley aka Elevated Thinkin'



As socially conscious as he is ambitious, Elevated Thinkin' has created a soulful brand of hip-hop that is smooth, sharp and bold. Both a St. Francis de Sales and University of Toledo graduate, Elevated Thinkin' — born Norris Finley — currently has two solo albums, two mix tapes and one record with his group IndiSoul REY. We caught up with our latest Creative Native to talk about his new mix tape that will be released in spring, one of his greatest successes and the motto he lives by. 

Tell us more about some of your past projects? 

I have four solo projects since 2010. Two Albums: Flash Burn and The Development. Two mix tapes: Bridging the Gap and Pillow Snatching. Another album as part of the group IndiSoul REY titled Doin Our Own Thang.

What current projects are you working on? 

I am currently working on my next mix tape, Touch Away, to be released in the spring. And the second IndiSoul REY album, as well. 

What advantage does being in Northwest Ohio/ Toledo offer your efforts?

I am central in region to many other cities such as Cincinnati, Chicago, Detroit and many others.  Another advantage is that I get to create my own sound because this region is not strictly labeled as having a certain sound.  We have influences but aren't boxed in by them.

Tell us about one of your greatest successes. 

One of my greatest successes has been using influence gained through art and music to bring attention to larger issues affecting the community.  The second single "I AM" off of the IndiSoul REY album has fostered a movement in regard to the negative portrayal of black women in music, media and pop culture. The "I AM" video, sparked the "I AM" series, which is a series of forums around the topic of the image and portrayal of black women.

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration.

My inspiration comes from the belief that to whom much is given, much is expected.  I feel that I have a God-given talent that can be used to impact lives from an angle that other sources may not be able to tap into.

Tell us about your background. 

I am a Toledo native, St. Francis de Sales graduate and a University of Toledo graduate with a BA in Finance. As a child I had many people contribute to molding and shaping me. I was raised to be conscious and willing to speak out on issues, especially those that most don't have the courage to speak out on. 

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

My motto is "Make it undeniable", meaning whatever it is that you do, do it to a level where even if people don't like it, they must respect it.

What is your favorite place for local culture?

My favorite place for local culture is the area around Mud Hen Stadium. You get a nice mix of cultures and different bars with various atmospheres.

Toledo's best kept secret is...

Caper's Pizza Bar. Amazing pizza!

My favorite place to chill locally is...

Peacock Cafe, downtown on Monroe Street.

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is...

On a front porch with good people. That's really the nature of me.

When I am not working hard I can always be found…

Looking for a competitive game of Dominoes.

If I could change the current landscape for progressive people…

I would change the mentality of the non-progressive.  People in this area have a tendency to only embrace what others are comfortable with, therefore, missing out on quality talent, events and other things because it is not the norm. I would make the landscape much more open-minded.

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

For the second IndiSoul REY album we are working on a production collaboration with Carl McIntosh from the London-based group Loose Ends. Loose Ends is known for songs such as "Hanging On a String", "Slow Down", "You Can't Stop the Rain" and many others.

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

I would love to collaborate with Lalah Hathaway. 

Name a CD, book or website you can't live without. 

My Alexander O'Neal CD collection. Choose one. [laughs] 

3 words that best describe me and my work are…

Innovative, creative, bold

Give us 5 desert island album picks. 

Alexander O'Neal, Greatest Hits

The Roots, Things Fall Apart

Common, Like Water For Chocolate

Donny Hathaway, Greatest Hits

 Whitney Houston, Greatest Hits

My biggest vice is…

Ginger Ale

I'd like to see _____ in Toledo.

A medium sized live entertainment venue. 

What's the last dream you recall having?

I was sitting in a classroom taking a test and every time I thought I was done I would flip the page to more questions. I guess that's more like a nightmare.

The last lyric that really moved me was…

As my iTunes played on random: Jay Electronica, "Voodoo for the pilgrims who bring weapons and conceal 'em/ They silence you wit force, then indoctrinate the children."

The one movie character I identify with is…

Andre played by Taye Diggs in Brown Sugar. 

The best gift I've ever received was…


My most inspiring moment was…

The first time I saw the picture of the back of the runaway slave Gordon.  I was in the sixth grade.

I want my last meal to be…

Fish, shrimp, crab cakes, fries,salad and beer.  


Back to All Creative Natives