Photo from www.nickydab.com.
He rhymes like Busta, but unlike the flow impresario, bounce rapper Nicky Da B raps to outpace the music. The New Orleans-based indie act learned the craft of hip hop from listening to West Coast acts like Tupac Shakur, then took to the local jive of bounce rapping to fuel the music in his soul. It’s rap, but faster; scratched, looped, and remixed; electronic and loud. Melding such proclivities together, the emerging artist has created his own niche, making him as much an innovator as a product of cultural transition.
“The bounce has been around and out since the late ‘80s,” Nicky tells BTR. “Being from New Orleans that’s all you mostly hear like all day every day so it was just like drilled in my head since I was younger.”
Nicky began bounce rapping after he graduated high school. He had a knack and the ambition, and the flow naturally spewed from his mouth. From the influence of Shakur’s records, which he mother used to play, he picked up the value of lyrical accents, and made it his M.O. to bring poetry to dance rhythms. Adding his raps to Southern hop, Nicky always makes sure that the music doesn’t get away from him.
Because, for the 22-year-old artist, it is the spirit of dance that remains central to his routine.
“To me, bounce is dance music in that you just don’t have any choice but to dance,” he observes. “Most of the time, when I write my songs, I write them as rap songs and then I seek out parts and pieces and make it a bounce song. So, I always rap really fast to be on beat. Like I never want them to slow the beat down.”
Last year, Nicky released his first LP, a 14-track high impact, booty-shaking compilation of slam jams titled, Please Don’t Forget Da B. He soon after was discovered by Diplo, who featured Nicky on his single “Express Yourself,” released in March.
“[Diplo] came to one of these bounce showcases we have at a club in town called The Republic one Thursday out of the month,” Nicky recalls. “After my set, I got off stage, and me and him were talking, and he said he liked what I did and can we work together. And the very next day we set up a studio session.”
It was a fortunate encounter for the young artist, as he admits the artistic flavor of New Orleans is often countered by its competitive nature, and only a few spots are available on top.
“New Orleans is big, but New Orleans is small,” Nicky points out. “I’m new to this and people I’m competing with have been doing it a decade or so. When I come on the scene, it’s like I have to dominate the whole thing in order to get people to know who I am. And I wish it wasn’t like that. I wish we could all be civil and work together. Now I’m not going to say that we’re all beefing because none of us are beefing…I just wish we had more collaboration.”
Nevertheless, Nicky’s biggest challenge falls outside city limits, introducing bounce rapping to foreign territory. Those hailing from the bayou speak it like a second language, but crossing state lines, it’s a new routine. His strategy, however, is simple – get the people to dance. He believes his energy and infectious noise is enough to make a believer out of anyone. The way the eclectic musician sees it, his work is all about impression and the manner in which he expresses himself.
Furthermore, as a gay man, Nicky brings pride to his image, hiding nothing and owning every element to his identity. While the hip hop community has historically been at arms with homosexuality, the latest revolution finds Nicky at the helm of a movement. He considers R&B singer Frank Ocean, who revealed weeks ago his first love was a man, as a turn of the tides.
“It’s about time,” Nicky comments. “Frank Ocean basically opened the door for other artists like me, myself, and anybody else that’s gay and trying to do it. There is no barrier. And he also opened the door for everybody else that’s in the industry and still closeted because you never know who’s going to come out.”
According to Nicky, he’s always felt comfortable in his shoes, and continues on gloriously with his flamboyant, high energy and amplified performances.
These days, he’s touring, working on a new EP and planning a potential move. New Orleans has been great, but, he says, it’d be nice to change the view.
Regardless, he’ll keep his family in tow. His mother, a home care worker, has been itching to go to Atlanta, so perhaps that’s Nicky’s next destination. Not only is she his number one fan, she’s also his greatest benefactor.
He jokes, “Her very first words when she heard “Express Yourself” were I want a Range Rover.”
Check out the track “Express Yourself” from Diplo and featuring Nicky Da B!