Following the February release of his last project “Black Wax” (with Huey Briss) that Bandcamp deemed “one of the year’s best projects from anyone in L.A County” is Nikobeats‘ solo debut — 65th St Murals. Being entirely self produced, written, and co-mixed, NIko was able to truly create soundscapes that meshed his ever-ranging introspective lyricism with soulful vocal arrangements.
Whether the Inland Empire native is expressing his strives to push the envelope and ‘Raise It Up” or is reminiscing coming back home from tour broke and having to “Pay Da Bills“, throughout all 10 tracks Niko is unapologetically himself and details moments of his life through an honest and uncompromising lens.
“I wanted to make an album that not only gave the world a true introduction to Nikobeats, but also gave those that listened something to take with them.” Though the 10 tracks vary in tone, they all circle back to one universal theme: To Create your universe, Paint your murals, and Make your mark on the world… Even when the walls to do so may not exist.
With only one feature on the album, Niko taps Jamla Records very own Reuben Vincent. “I didn’t want a 25 feature filled album (just yet). On this album I only wanted one, for that one to be special. And when it comes to Reuben Vincent… special is an understatement.”
Studying classic features from songs like Complexion (Rapsody) and Devil In A New Dress (Rick Ross) Niko realized the inherent thing that made those features live with him forever, “[were that] the guest Artists were given their own moments… Not just randomly thrown in, not just another verse, but were actually given a space to able paint their own pictures and be themselves. I feel like on “Go” me and Reuben were able to accomplish that same feat. Shouts out to my guy!”
Recorded at Nikobeats Studios and Mixed and Mastered by Federico “c sik” Lopez (Talib Kweli, A$AP Rocky, Everlast, Dilated Peoples, Psycho Realm) @TheDrugLab Los Angeles, CA it’s clear how the album possesses its own distinct sound. Federico “c sik” Lopez, having developed a palette for sonic quality from working with many veterans in the game, along with his eagerness to help artist’s with their vision, has become one of LA’s go to engineers.
While Niko simply took a photo of his neighborhood intersection, Artist Jefferson Harris from Richmond, VA (Mutant Academy) brought the photo to life. “It’s amazing… Jefferson took 3-4 face time calls of me detailing scattered ideas, what the album means to me, things that inspire me, and turned it into an album cover that I feel like I could hear without even listening to it.”
To Niko, the way in which an album looks, is just as important as the way it sounds. Which is exactly why he recalls reaching out to former music video collaborators Director Elliot Barbernell & Director of Photography David Hwang “It was their attention to detail, like-mindedness, and overall love for their craft that drew me in to reaching out again and I couldn’t be more thankful.” Having worked on him and Huey Briss’ “Bullets Don’t Need Guidance” video earlier this year, it was an easy choice for Niko to reach out a second time for his upcoming single.
You can stream “65th St. Murals” below.