Damn, look what’s booming in Atlanta: Introducing Nikkiya

SPEAKHER Front Cover

If I stop to think about all the female MC’s I know of today, I don’t think I can come up with a single name. Is that a poor reflection of my musical tastes? Is it time to get off my hipster high horse and embrace other genres? Well I suppose critics are right, I have to do a little more musical adventuring. After stumbling upon Nikkiya, I wouldn’t mind being wrong a few more times to go through the awesome experience I had with listening through her mixtape “Speakher”.

When listening through the mixtape, I instantly gravitated to “Cheater”. Now Nikkiya’s song “Cheater” can be summed up with two words: Raw power. Seriously, I haven’t heard such boom and in-your-face indignation since Sleigh Bells. At first I thought something was wrong when the opening violins kept repeating itself for ten seconds…and then the chorus hit. During the chorus, you can hear the sound of ironwork pounding in the background, clearly establishing that this is serious business. So much of the song is revealed before Nikkiya not so much sings but shouts her fiery chorus. When you combine those elements with the always emotionally dynamic (in a bad way) scenario of an affair…wow let’s just say you wouldn’t expect such lyrics from country song (That’s right Carrie Underwood, digging your  key into the side of his pretty little souped up 4 wheel drive” doesn’t have the same umph as “Put that cheater in the trunk, I think he gotta learn a lesson”).

Nikkiya “Cheater” There’s something about listening to Nikkiya that I enjoy so much. Unlike some other rap artists I’ve listened to, Nikkiya’s confidence in delivering her lyrics is unbelievable.  She manages to capture the swaggering persona without actually being antagonizing. For instance, in “Love Machine” Nikkiya crows and playfully taunts her target to be more assertive like herself over some badass guitars wails. More versatility is shown with the softer production of “When I Was High”…which leads to a big surprise, an even softer production of the jazzy, soulful “Y.O.Y” (which actually might be the highlight of the mixtape for me simply because it’s so different from the mixtape, and it shows a willingess for artist expression in many different ways. Just when I was about to get used to this rah-rah tour de force, I get a nice, touching performance). Following “Y.O.Y”, the songs “In the Game” and “I Like What Your Doin Main” get a bit more experimental with the electric sound. And then I listened to “Nobody But Me”, thus rendering what I said about “Y.O.Y” being the highlight completely wrong. Think of this song somewhere along the lines of Alica Keys in terms of emotional resonance but Nikkiya turns it her own with the “who, who, who’s” chants. It’s a stunning about face from “Cheater”, where the vulnerability is palpable,  but the confidence is still there, through Nikkiya’s assertion that she’s still the only one good one for her man. Check it out.

To describe the mixtape in a very condensed form: In the beginning there’s a lot of fierce power and banging from a woman who’s out to prove something to the world (and to herself?). After all she’s entering a genre in which female artists still have to scrap to be seen as equal as their male counterparts. At “When I Was High”, a transition begins towards a more experimental direction, with a reluctant confession that perhaps the crusade to demonstrate one’s worth doesn’t always have to be taken with an aggressive, confrontational approach. It’s a moment of quiet reflection. Welcome to my itunes, my pod, and my life Nikkiya, your spitfire is fantastic. I hope to hear more from you in the future.

Download Nikkiya’s mixtape for free.

One response to “Damn, look what’s booming in Atlanta: Introducing Nikkiya

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