NMV Sit Down: Nikko Baby
Veteran R & B singer Nikko Baby talks new singles, working with Jeremih and helping lead the resurgence of R & B in Chicago.
We were lucky enough to chop it up with the free-spirited soulful vocalist, as Nikko spoke on unifying Chicago, being genuine, keeping his voice in tune and even his hobbies away from music.
SM: Steven Mainzer
SM: Hey Nikko, how’s it going what have you been working on lately?
Nikko: Bunch of singles, pushing my single, “Hurricane” as well as “Wavy.” Getting ready to put a video out on “Wavy.”
SM: One of your new singles, “Hurricane” was released a few weeks ago. Seems very smooth and organic -- how did that record come about?
Nikko: One night me and my brother D-Ago we were sitting around, listening to a bunch of production made by Thai Beats. We were listening to it thinking of what most people could relate to, it’s a common issue in our city so we thought it was fitting.
SM: I see a few of your videos are shot by Connor Vision, seems that you guys have some chemistry. How did that relationship come about?
Nikko: I met Connor Vision through Dough from da Go. Honestly we just meshed and went together so well so we decided to continue to work together. Connor is an amazing director and editor from a videography standpoint. He’s an all around homie.
SM: What is the message you want for people to see in your music?
Nikko: Always be genuine, always love self first, take care of your own first, continue to smile, continue to push forward, fight and believe in what you believe in. That’s my message in my music.
SM: I saw you were in the studio with Jeremih recently, can you spoil any gems that you guys may be dropping?
Nikko: We are going to keep that one secretive for right now. My next No More Vinyl interview we going to talk about it, definitely something big brewing.
SM: What is a goal that you have for the year of 2019?
Nikko: To get the new music, the new wave of R & B circulating so we can try to pump some lights back in the city, take some of the hate out. Get some love pumping back through the city. That’s one of my goals -- I know that’s kind of reaching, but that’s one of my biggest goals. I want to reach out to neighborhoods from West to East, to South to North, we can all be connected and work together—we can be the new Atlanta and the new music Mecca.
SM: I feel like we are having a bit of resurgence with R & B, especially in Chicago. Do you feel like that is happening? How can you help facilitate? How can we be the new Atlanta?
Nikko: If we just work together man, it can be more than what it’s based on now which is popularity and hate for other neighborhoods. What I’m trying to do is be the neutral side of it. R & B is neutral. It don’t have any gang affiliations. I want to try to use my gift and my talent to reach the artists from different cultural backgrounds, different neighborhoods and try to lock in with everybody, I’m not picking or choosing sides.
We all have platforms to at least try to make our city better. I’ve been to places like Los Angeles and Vegas, and the first thing that comes out of their mouth is “y’all crazy you killin’ people for looking at each other wrong.”
But at the same time there is a bright side to our city, the beautiful side the fun, side. They talk about that out of town, they talk about our gangs and the hate we have for each other, but you don’t hear about Millennium Park, you don’t hear about the nice block parties that don’t get shot up or the events downtown, the Bud Biliken parade, etc.
So what I want to do with my music is bring the fun back to it, and let them know we got some good s**t going on around here. We got some real good people. We honestly have taken over, slowly but surely, Chicago is taking over. Chicago is more and more in the spotlight everyday. We got Polo G, Lil Durk, Lil Zay Osama, Calboy, Queen Key, Chief Keef, Jeremih, G Herbo and more, the list goes on. I want to connect with the artists in my city and create more avenues so we can build more artists.
SM: How did you find yourself pursuing music?
Nikko: Being young and enjoying the elementary school concerts. I actually enjoyed the performance aspect of it, the fun parts to get on stage and express yourself and be who you are. I can express who I am I don’t try to be nobody else, I can just be me. Not being scared to express yourself. I fell in love with the music and I kept it going.
SM: Who were some of your influences growing up?
Nikko: I love this question because I have so many. I’m going to get into my number one. Definitely got to give love and respect to the first person that ever showed me a studio and that would be my brother D-Ago, he is not my biological brother but he is from the neighborhood and I been around him since I been a kid, blood couldn’t make us no closer. He put me in the studio at a young age.
Use to listen to a lot of oldies, Jackson 5, Al Green. I’m an old soul. My dad use to sing jazz while drove the cab - he would sing to his clients on the South side. He grew up on the low end. Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Heavy D. I basically adopted the music personalities of those men. This created the facade Nikko Baby. It’s like I’m R & B, but you can also say I’m like Trap R & B. Smooth R & B. Hood R & B whatever you want to say. I’m basically a walking hood love story (*laughs*).
SM: Any dream collaborations?
Nikko: Jeremih was one of them. Chris Brown is another one.
SM: How do you stay focused on the business side?
Nikko: I learned a lot about music business through watching and learning and being around my manager for a long time, you know what she does with building professional business relationships, and we have now joined with Swank PR. Most definitely try to stay as professional as possible. I was just watching and being observant. Listening, learning, taking notes and then taking that and applying that without over-saturating.
You never know how far your originality will go. Just be you. That’s the best part about doing business, you can just be you. Everyone so hell bent on making it big, I’m just enjoying the music, I make the music that I want to hear. I keep the attitude I would want from other people and the same energy I would expect.
SM: How do you keep your voice in tune?
Nikko: Just keep singing. It’s really how I express myself. It’s my exercise, it’s my rehearsal. It’s just what I do. It’s my way of expressing who Nikko is, there’s a deeper story to Nikko than a lot of people really understand.
In order to continue remain purified and remain me I just keep singing, I keep singing, I smile all day. I’m probably the goofiest person you will ever meet. I remain who I am. I don’t aim on impressing people, if they love you they going to love you if they don’t love you they going to remember you.
SM: What is your favorite hobby away from music?
Nikko: I would say basketball but I haven’t played in so long, so I would say Grand Theft Auto. I have beaten that game so many times bro.
SM: You’re on a deserted island and can only have 1 meal, what are you eating?
Nikko: Macaroni and cheese, from my mother’s oven. I’m on a deserted island -- she can just shoot it me by drone or something. I’ll be cool.
SM: Backwoods, Dutches or swishers?
Nikko: Backwoods man. If it isn’t backwoods its raw cones, it definitely raw cones. They let you absorb the weed more than the other papers. A lot of people smoke backwoods off look – it’s a generational curse (*laughs*).
SM: What is some advice you would give to up and coming independent artists?
Nikko: Remain original, remain you. Don’t fall too far into the facade of what other artists are doing. Continue to be you, stay original, keep going don’t let anyone discourage you. Make the music you want to hear don’t let them tell you what kind of music to make. Let the music take you. You never know how far your originality will go. Don’t try to imitate them or copy them. Be you, what would you do? What would you want to listen to? Then protect your originality, always do it with a smile. Be happy don’t get discouraged and listen to the naysayers, and the doubters. When you put your heart in the music that’s when you really win. When you happy and you proud of what you doing -- that’s when you winning.