On her latest track “Dan Bang”, Haiti-based rapper Niska urges her countrymen to develop a conscience and rewire their minds for change. Niska herself has been through some mind-rewiring and changes. Her transition from girl to woman started on “Vire Won” (Merry-Go-Round), for which she teamed up with a rapper Synedad. On the song she speaks of playing an old admirer like the wheels of a merry-go-’round. A rapper named Chabin is her duet partner on “Riddim Affair”. The dramatic storylines that Niska made popular on “Keepin’ It Movin” with Jienna, “Better than I”, with rapper Grusome, are noticeably absent, or at least on mute on her latest track.
But she’s still empowered. Oh, and she’s very empowered, and not just on wax either…Thank you very much. Behind the scenes, Niska the rapper, er, Niska The Artist, not only writes her own songs, but she’s had a hand in producing her songs, like the song “Nana”, which she co-produced with beatmaker HTIK. She actually co-directed the music video for that song alongside the EKO Media Productions team.
Kreyolicious: How did music and the other arts come to be a big part of your life?
I’ve always loved to experiment in the arts. I illustrate, design, paint, write, produce, rap, sing. Sometimes I find myself integrating them all together. Almost like I’m designing music and making my art sing a song.
Kreyolicious: When you’re writing a song, what’s your main inspiration?
Experience…what I’m going through at the moment. What I observe. What I envision. That’s what paints the picture of my music.
Kreyolicious: Has another woman ever put you down?
Not women…but girls have put me down…or at least they’ve tried to. [Laughter] I believe real women help each other and build with each other.
Kreyolicious: You’ve shared posts of yourself as the leading lady in music videos. Is acting something you’d like to pursue?
Yes, I love acting. I would love to have my own TV show one day or even act in a movie.
Kreyolicious: Growing up, who did you listen to? Do you think these artists have had an influence in how you approach your music?
I grew up listening to a mix of Haitian music, (Kompa, racine) and hiphop. My parents are big fans of Spanish[-language] music as well so I grew up listening to that.
Kreyolicious: How does a Niska song come together?
I listen to the beat. If I feel the beat, I go in the booth and freestyle a few melodies and sometimes full phrases. After recording a couple takes, I listen to everything I recorded and select the parts that I like. I then write to the selected melodies and come up with a catchy chorus—hook. Once that’s done, I proceed to writing the verses. That’s usually how it goes down. [Laughter]
Above: The rapper vibes with her crew.
Kreyolicious: Interesting…Do you ever censor yourself because you realize that there are others looking up to you?
Yes. All the time. I’m the eldest of six. Just imagine the pressure. It’s a lot of responsibility, maintaining a clean image in the entertainment industry. I’m not motivated as much going on in the world. My ten-year old sister looks up to me more than anything, and knows all my lyrics. I would never want to be a disappointment her. As much as I’m a rebel, I try my best not to cross the line.
Kreyolicious: If you could give a younger sister and cousin some life advice based on what you’ve learned thus far as a woman…what would you say?
Never burn any bridges due to your ego. Remember, The toes you step on today may belong to the a__ you have to lick tomorrow.
Kreyolicious: What’s next for you?
I am working on a creole album for my beautiful people. The project sound is very tribal, world and trap.