Rob Level (born Robert Novak), previously know by the stage name Novi Novak, is an American rapper, singer, social media guru and inspirational figure. He has released seven albums and mixtapes, maintains multiple YouTube Channels, and is an iTunes Top 100 artist. He is known for his viral "Tattoo My Life" video (2016) detailing his challenging childhood growing up without parents. Rob first came on the scene when his remix of "Black and Yellow" went viral in 2011. He is also the owner of Smart Rapper, an education-based website that offers courses on music industry strategy, songwriting, and rap technique, and Dark Glow Media, a social media marketing agency. A detailed account of Rob's life can be found at MyCrazyLifeStory.com where not only he does he share his autobiography but encourages other people to share their own as well.
Rob was born to unmarried teenage parents in the late 1980s in Chicago. Rob's father, a mechanic, was diagnosed with a Brain tumor when Rob was still in utero. His mother married Rob's stepfather and had another child when he was four years old. Throughout Rob's childhood, Rob's father was dying from multiple brain tumors which retarded his speech and mental capabilities. Rob learned sign language to communicate with his father.
He began to exhibit severe behavioral problems by age five including violent acts toward others. After jumping into his baby brother's crib with a steak knife, he was taken to a 24-hour surveillance behavior center where he lived for two months. He returned to live with his mother and was soon kicked out of first grade for bringing her insulin needles and medication to school.
During this time he also experienced extreme child abuse at the hands of his mother and stepfather, often locked in a dark closet for days and fed only saltine crackers. At this point, Rob's mother decided to put Rob up for adoption without informing the family. He was six years old.
His father found out and contacted his sister, who drove several hours to claim Rob in family court. Five minutes before the court hearing, Rob's mother asked him if he'd like to go live with his aunt for the summer. He agreed, and she then gave up permanent custody. He went to live with his aunt in Fort Campbell, KY and shortly after, his father died.
Rob's aunt was in the military and would be gone weeks at a time. He would often run away from day care and hide on the roof of her house. Eventually, he was asked not to return to daycare. After splitting his babysitter's head open, he was sent to another behavioral boarding school. The school used corporal punishment and he was physically abused at the hands of teachers and aids. He was diagnosed with ADHD and was given Depacote, Ritalin, and Zoloft. His behavior improved enough to allow him back to a regular school by the fifth grade.
He was briefly reunited with his mother during this time when she contemplated "taking him back," or re-adopting him into their original family. He went to visit and during his stay with them, he threatened his little brother with a knife, threw himself down the stairs, and threatened suicide. His mother committed him to a children's mental hospital.
His aunt, having taken off many days to care for him and handle his issues over the years, was released from her duties in the military. At this point, her and her husband moved with Rob back to Chicago to be close to his grandmother (his aunt's mother). Over the next few years, Rob gradually transitioned to living full-time with his grandmother in Chicago.
Rob attended a behavioral school in Chicago which would "restrain" misbehaving students; restraining meant being pushed to the ground and physically sat on for long periods of time by a 200+lb 'teacher's aid.' There was also a severe point system for earning basic necessities. After a misunderstanding lead to Rob losing several points, he broke the jaw of the teacher's aid. The school had never expelled a student before. Rob was expelled. Given his history of violence, he was unable to enroll in any school in the Chicago area in order to obtain his high school diploma.
By this time, Rob's aunt had gone to live in Indiana for her new job. Given no other choice to finish his education, Rob moved to Indiana and enrolled in school there. He graduated with his high school diploma and moved back to Chicago where he continued to experience trouble with the law.
Music and Online Fame
Rob exhibited musical talent from a young age, learning full songs and performing them for family or friends. As he grew, music remained a passion and he picked up different styles from the people he met as he moved around throughout his adolescence.
Rob started to write poetry when he was 9-years-old which evolved into rapping when he was 12 and then recording his rhymes when he was 15. Growing up, Rob was surrounded by a wide variety of music ranging from Oldies to 80s rock. Rob can name every #1 billboard song from the 1950s to now and can sing the chorus to every song.
Some of his rap influences early on included Eminem, Petey Pablo, 50 Cent, Nelly, T.I., and Canibus. Early in his music career, Rob would rap under the moniker "Hype" and record songs in his grandmother's basement in the South Side of Chicago. As a side hustle, he would record and mix songs for other rappers who resided in the South Side as well.
In the late 2000's, Rob would change his name from "Hype" to "Novi Novak". He first rose to internet prominence with his 2011 remix of the Wiz Khalifa song Black and Yellow, which was viewed nearly five million times on YouTube.
In 2011, Rob got into beef with rapper Hopsin through a series of Facebook posts which led to diss tracks being released by both artists. The beef steadily gained attention online from fans and a YouTube series was created to document the beef. In May of 2012, Hopsin posted on Facebook reflecting on his beef with Rob, how it helped push both of their careers, and the respect he had for Rob.
Rob was arrested for the first time at age fifteen for fighting publicly and continued committing crimes. At age 19, he was sentenced to six months for breaking and entering and assault with a deadly weapon. He served three months in jail with an early release for good behavior. By age 22 he had multiple arrests for battery, assault with a deadly weapon, and breaking and entering. He was on probation from age 16 to 25.
Albums and Record Deals
Rob began his music career under the name "Novi Novak," and indepently recorded, mixed, and promoted his first 6 mixtapes and albums. For his 7th album 'One Size Fits All', he signed with RBC Records for a one album deal. He is also rumored to have turned down an offer from Young Money Entertainment. He apparently did not believe that it was a genuine offer, only finding out the truth later. He is still listed on the RBC roster alongside artists like Gucci Mane.
Rob went on to release seven albums and mix tapes under the name "Novi Novak"; Theory of Cognition, One Size Fits All, Hibernation's Over, Villianism, The Charisma, Hibernation's Over 2, and Aura of A Supervillian. His rap is marked by his unique style of double entendres and witticism combined with intense stories of abuse and redemption. He has garnered the attention of a faithful fan base, labeled "the Villain Squad" who have continued to support him across platforms like Instagram, Facebook, SoundCloud, Spotify, and YouTube. One of the themes throughout Rob's work has been the idea of becoming a villain to cope with the evil of the world, which has resonated with fans internationally. In 2016, Rob wrote Jordyn Jones' hit song, "I'm Dappin."
Smart Rapper and Udemy
Rob founded a business called Smart Rapper in 2015, initially intended to help people avoid the mistakes he had made in the music industry. After a short time, he realized that many of his customers needed technical music advice more. He began to assemble a course-based, educational business which offers courses on lyric and songwriting, rap flow, online promotion and marketing. The site also has a blog section which contains over 400 articles Rob has written for his follower base.
Rob has created his own courses on Udemy to help people ranging from social media to rapping. His most popular courses include How I Got Famous On YouTube In Just A Few Months (which has a 4.5 star rating with 80 reviews), How I Got Famous On Instagram In Just A Few Months! (which has a 4.6 star rating with 434 rcviews), How To Find Your Rap Flow! Learn How To Flow Like A Pro, and more. Rob has taught more than 3,761 students on the platform.
In 2016, Rob decided to change his professional name from "Novi Novak" to Rob Level, a tribute to his dedication to leveling up through personal evolution. This also marked a change in his brand from his "Villainism" days to a more evolved, inspirational, and optimistic artist. He has dedicated much of his time to establishing an inspirational YouTube channel. His videos explain web marketing and self promotion, lessons he's learned, music, professional, and personal life advice.