Royalty is a double-edged sword, especially in hip-hop. To the royals go the dollars, the accolades, the awards, and the instruments of power. But kings also shoulder great responsibility. A king needs to carry on tradition; he’s a living link to hip-hop past and a bridge to hip-hop future – and those bridges must bear weight.
So when Niko Brim introduces himself as a king, that isn’t a boast made lightly. Although the CYN Crew member’s talent is apparent in everything he does, Niko knows that kingship is more than swagger. Kingship also requires a deep connection to the king’s forerunners: when the royal speaks, all his predecessors speak through him. Niko’s sound is absolutely his own and resolutely contemporary, ready for any club or modern hip-hop playlist. At the same time, echoes of New York City classics are audible in everything he records.
“BONITA,” his newest single, is a showcase of his skills. Over a propulsive trap beat, Niko delivers tight, unassailable verses with the sort of self-assurance that can’t be taught. Yet he also demonstrates that he’s a sure hand with a rap chorus – he’s the sort of vocalist with the verbal nuance to turn just about anything into an indelible hook. B4 THE THRONE, his most recent full-length, radiates personality from its first bar. It’s an extension and refinement of the sound he developed on the 2018 album A Thousand Pictures: Chapter Two, the independent release that firmly established him as budding royalty in the New York City hip-hop underground. The new song comes on the heels of Niko’s consciousness-raising work with 93-year-old civil rights activist Opal Lee and his incendiary track “Hard To Believe,” a broadside against systemic racism. Like all kings, Niko is multifaceted.
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He’s also lionized. Vibe, Billboard, Gra