Niko Is has linked up with Talib Kweli, MidaZ the Beast, A.L. Punchline, and Wordsworth for a lyrical, hard-hitting, classic hip-hop posse cut titled “Live From The Blue Note.” Take “classic” with a grain of salt though, while this harkens back to a golden age of hip-hop group cuts, “Live” is anything but traditional. The video is shot in a moody black and white and sees the MCs trading dense lyrical verses over an eerie minor-key piano motif which acts as the song’s sole rhythm track.
The sparse and eerie track’s minimal arrangement allows the natural musicality of the words and the rhythms of each MC’s flow to really shine — every member of the crew excels at filling gaps and nailing their punchlines. Kweli, in particular, has a fiery verse that boils with a steady intensity (including lines that dance around his recent public conflict with Ye).
“See the grifters dressing like they’re post-apocalyptic fly fishers, you get the picture when I frame and capture, I’m the famous rapper posing as a backpacker…” and “your mental state seems to be in a defensive place, your fans must’ve got the Corona and lost their sense of taste.”
Or you know, maybe he’s talking about some other bridge-burning headline-making rapper who talked publicly about posing as a backpacker.
Despite the song’s brooding vibe and length (it’s past the six-minute mark, with no drums in sight!) it never drags for a second. There’s a steady heat boiling on high as this collective of mic masters push one another and trade layered bars. It never feels out of step with the rhythm of current or classic hip-hop (there’s definitely some Mobb Deep energy in play).
Watch the video for “Live From The Blue Note,” above, the song is set to appear on Niko Is’ upcoming LP with Juni Ali, Young Viejos.