Interview: Niko Brim brings the heat on ‘BONITA’

Niko Brim. Image courtesy Niko Brim
Niko Brim. Image courtesy Niko Brim /

Rapper Niko Brim recently unveiled his new music video, “BONITA,” a track lifted from his forthcoming EP, B4THETHRONE.

B4THETHRONE builds on the sound Niko Brim delivered on his 2018 album, A Thousand Pictures, which put in the vanguard of New York City’s underground hip-hop scene. The album features seven hard-hitting tracks rife with swagger and banging rhythms.

Because of his innovative sound, Niko’s already had features in Vibe, Billboard, AllHipHop, and, among others.

The video, directed by Shamell Mason, depicts Niko living large in a nightclub, flashing stacks of Benjamins, and surrounded by beautiful women as Niko struts his deluxe flow full of smart rhymes atop a slow, low, and walloping beat.

"“Looking for the king well here I am / Brand new duffle I could stuff a hundred bands / Casa Blanca she Bonita bring her friend / I do what I want not what I can.”"

Rhyme Junkie spoke with Niko Brim to discover how he got started in the rap game, which artists he listening to right now, and his creative process.

Niko Brim interview – Rhyme Junkie

How did you get started in music? What’s the backstory there?

I was always into my music. I come from a hip-hop background and started writing as early as six. I would also play the drums, keys, bass, whatever I could get my hands on. I didn’t know at the time what it would become, I just knew I had a strong passion for making music. Fast forward, high school ciphers would push my friends to encourage me to get in the booth. From there the rest is history.

What singers/musicians influenced you the most?

My biggest influences in no order would be Jigga, Nas, Cole, Kendrick, Bob Marley, 3 Stacks, and Michael Jackson.

Which artists are you listening to right now?

I’m bumpin’ Kai Ca$h, Brent Faiyaz, Lil Durk, Reuben Vincent, HER, and Sevana. I love the new music coming out right now.

As an artist, what’s been your biggest challenge so far?

My biggest challenge so far has been to open up and let people into my world. I love my privacy. If I wasn’t making music, I would play the cut, but I do make music, so I have to continue to let people into my life.

Is your sound evolving? If so, in which direction? Toward R&B, trap, or some other direction?

My sound is always evolving but it doesn’t evolve with trends, it evolves with how I develop as a person. I have been creating more R&B but I have no plans to stop the hip hop s**t. I’m open to doing whatever feels right while we’re cooking up in the studio.

How do you keep your sound fresh and avoid coming across as derivative?

Crazy, I was just having this convo. Off rip as a person, I always embraced being a black sheep. Everyone wants to wear their 1’s? Bet Imma put on my 3’s. I’ve always been that way. I take that mindset and bring it into my music. I enjoy moving at my own pace, in my own direction despite how anybody else feels about it. It feels like my super-power in a day and age where most things are the same.

What is your songwriting process?  Do the rhymes come first, or the music?

Being a writer and a producer, it depends on which one I start cooking up first. Sometimes I’ll be thinking of a beat first, other times I think of bars and jump outta bed to write them down before I forget. It really depends, but either way, I’m coming with some heat.

What was the inspiration for your new single/music video “BONITA?”

I wanted to take my Asian heritage and my African American heritage and mesh them into one video. I was watching Enter The Dragon and there was a scene where Bruce Lee was at this event and it was super fly and elegant. I wanted to make a video that brought that same feeling I felt when watching that scene. Shoutout to Shamell Mason and my sister Bria, it came to life in a beautiful way.

What do you want people to take away from the video?

I want people to embrace getting out of their shells. YOU ARE DOPE. YOU ARE FLY. YOU ARE A KING. YOU ARE A QUEEN. Don’t dim your light to fit with everyone else. Lean on the things that make you unique, that will always serve you in everything you do.

Where was the video shot and who directed it?

The video was shot at The Taj Lounge in downtown Manhattan. It was directed by Shamell Mason. We’ve worked together before, so the chemistry was there. He took the song and brought it to life.

You have a new EP, B4THETHRONE, just around the corner. What can you share about it?

The EP is some of my best work to date. I’m proud and hype to share this with the world. It’s dedicated to all the underdawgs out there. Continue to push through, we tend to be the ones that take the game by storm.

How are you handling the coronavirus situation?

I’m keeping my mask and sanitizer on me. Never lackin’.

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Looking ahead, what’s next for Niko Brim?

Everything will be bigger, better, more precise, and more enjoyable.

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