Crossovers between the UK R&B and rap scenes are flourishing, and not many artists are doing a finer job of bridging the gap between the two sounds and two communities that the trailblazing talent of Nippa. Swiftly certifying himself as one of the most prosperous rising artists in the country, the North-Londoner has risen to giddy heights over the past year. He has opened for US R&B superstar Blxst, supported rap frontrunner Jack Harlow for his UK and EU tour dates, and collaborated with icon Craig David on his latest album 22, cementing his seat at the table at modern R&B.
His talent matches his increasing credibility; although very much paying homage to the classic R&B of the 90s and 00s, Nippa stands out amongst the condensed generic movement with his ability to translate the style into a grit-laden, authentic and nostalgic concoction that flirts with gospel and reggae sensibilities.
The singer is building a progressive discography; released late last year, sophomore body of work, Not A Statistic, is a fluid, adventurous and consistent project that further legitimised Nippa’s genre-merging approach, an augmentation to his debut self-titled EP’s appeal. The rising star has just had his return, following the slick EP, in the form of the smooth and sultry late night jam, “Maddest Hoes”. Once again collaborating with esteemed producer SHOW N PROVE, Nippa slides across the Scottish beatsmith’s instrumental, providing a charisma-centric performance and cheek-laden yet thoughtful lyricism.
Community driven and endlessly creative, Nippa is poised to be amongst the most essential voices in modern UK R&B. We connected with the man himself to talk the origins of his love of music, supporting Jack Harlow on his UK and EU tour, and what to expect from his upcoming project.
Watch the visuals for “Maddest Hoes”…
Read the full interview…
Who and what influences you?
Influences are tricky because it’s not just people, it’s everything. Everything influences me – the ends, my family, my friends, my emotions, women, money. I’m influenced by the world around me. I’ve been travelling quite a lot recently and that has influenced me too.
Where did your love of music originate from?
My mum listened to everything growing up. She’d be cooking in the kitchen listening to all sorts, reggae, Motown, neo soul. I also have an older sister so I was always put on to music slightly more advanced for me. My stepdad was a producer and I actually made my first song when I was like eight or nine years old. Music has just been a constant thing in my life, it’s not something I decided to love it was already in me, I was born with it.
How did you start writing?
I started freestyling with my sister, we’d listen to instrumentals and just flow on all types of beats and gradually started focusing on lyrics. Once I started making music I just channelled that energy into the studio, and since then I’ve written for loads of people and hoping I get the opportunity to work with a lot more.
What drove you to pursue music as a career?
Music has always been a theme in my life, since I can remember. From being at home with my mum and my sister, from rapping with my friends, from listening to all different genres. It wasn’t something I’d planned on, I actually went to university to study economics but one day I went to the studio with my boy and I said “Yeah, this is for me” – and I’m so glad I did.
You’re so eclectic as a creative, how do you combine such disparate generic sensibilities to sound seamless?
It’s essentially a combination of the music I grew up listening to and have recognised from an early age. Often it’s not a sound I actively try to achieve, a lot of the time it comes naturally and it’s just about expanding and adapting. More recently though, I’ve taken the time out to really study music and hone in on my craft and the sound I want to pioneer.
How would you personally define the essence of your sound?
I would describe it as a modern take on old school vibes. But I feel like I have music that channels so many genres, Hip Hop, R&B, Rap etc. I’ve actually just come back from Nigeria and would love to explore afrobeats at some point. I wanna do it all.
How has that sound developed over the past few years?
I’m constantly on the go, constantly meeting new people, constantly doing something. I’ve had so many experiences as well, more than I thought I would. I’ve travelled to so many different places and seen so many different things so my lyrics reflect that and as a result the sound is constantly changing.
Community seems to flow through your music, why is that such an important aspect of creation for you?
I love being a part of something. I love the idea of togetherness and uplifting everyone that’s around me. I’m from an area where everyone knows each other – everyone is cool and we’ve watched each other grow over the years. Now we’re in a position to look after the younger kids growing up in this area. So one thing I can say about my neighbourhood is that they support me hard. And I love that so I’ll always show love to where I’m from.
You recently supported the likes of Blxst and Jack Harlow, how were those experiences?
Blxst was my first ever performance, which was so scary but I had such a good time. I toured across Europe with Jack Harlow and it was just such a sick experience, I’d do it again and again. It showed me what I wanna aspire to. I’m also grateful to Craig David, he gave me one of the first opportunities to perform live too. Performing live is not easy and It taught me so much about being a man as well. Being courageous and being brave. After you’ve performed to thousands, nothing can scare you.
Talk me through the creative process of the new drop, “Maddest Hoes”?
You know what, I was working with Show N Prove and we were listening to Lil Kim x 50 Cent “Magic Stick” and I found a way to relate to it and channel that era of music. So many people and sounds influenced this song – Snoop Dogg, Pharrell, Jay-z. The song more than anything is just about me celebrating where I am in life right now. I’m good, I got everything I want and I’m gassed about it.
Is it a sign of what’s to come on the upcoming project?
Not at all, some might call my next project a left turn. I’m taking it to a whole different dimension, more gangster, more sweet boy, more broken-hearted, more gassed up. Expect everything
Where do you want to take your artistry?
I wanna take it to the next level. I wanna try things with new sounds and new vibes. I’m trying to just elevate each time I release something. I want my listeners to feel a vibe but also learn something about me and get to know Nippa a little bit more. I’ve grown so much as an artist in the last couple years and I’m ready to keep growing and being better and that’s all I can really do .
What else is to come from you short term?
I want everyone to stay tuned. Music every month, but more importantly, something different every month. New visual, it’s gonna be sick. I’m really excited, I can’t wait to share what I’ve got with the UK and the rest of the world.