“If People Want To Make A Scene Then They’ve Got To Come Together And Start Showing Love To Each Other”: An MM Exclusive Interview With Nippa
23 Oct 2023
One of the most exciting artists to emerge from the UK in recent years, Nippa is on a mission to put R&B back to the forefront of British music. Having started making music in 2020, he rose to prominence thanks to his track, ‘Situation’, in 2021, showcasing his effortless vocals and ear for production. He has since followed that up with the acclaimed EP ‘Not A Statistic’, which delves into deeper subject matters and demonstrates a growth in the artist as a lyricist.
After releasing three singles this year, most recently ‘Ocean Drive’, I sat down with Nippa to discuss his come up, his love for Drake, battling depression, touring with Jack Harlow, and what comes next in a promising career:
Tell me about growing up in Tottenham…
Growing up in Tottenham brings a sense of community, innit? At the same time it gives a sense of looking at your surroundings and rapping about what you see. You’ve got Grime heads like Skepta, Jme, you’ve got people like Headie One as well who kind of influence the content in my music and the visuals as well.
Seeing artists like Skepta and Headie flourish, did that give you a sense that you could do that as well?
Yeah, but at the same time they’re rapping. Do you get what I’m saying? It definitely showed me that it’s possible to make it but I still didn’t know if it was possible with singing.
When did you first start getting into singing?
I’ve always loved music, but the first time I started fully making music myself was the end of 2020 or early 2021.
You used to freestyle with your older sister as well. Is that right?
Yeah I did, still! That was just on a fun one, just me and my sis freestyling.
Would you say you come from a musical family then?
No, you know. No one can play instruments in my yard but my sister raps, or used to back in the day, so she freestyled a lot.
Did you think music was going to be a career for you at the time you started?
No way, I never thought it would be a career for me, I can’t lie. You never really think that making it from music is possible, even when you look at Skepta and them man someone had to buss them, so you never really think you can do it yourself. It’s looking fruitful for me now though, innit.
What would you say your early influences were?
Soulchild, Jaheim, Aaliyah. I know everyone’s a Drake fan but I have to say Drake. He’s the GOAT.
What is it about Drake that makes you think he’s the GOAT?
Bare tings, G. He sings, he raps, his aura – I could go on for days. (Laughs) It sounds like I’m glazing, G, but I’ll glaze, still.
What’s your favourite track of his?
I’ve got four for each mood. When I need to feel pumped for a show or just before something I need to be gassed for, I’ll play ‘Headlines’. When I’m feeling emo, I’ll put on ‘Days In The East’. When I’m feeling a bit in love, I’ll put on ‘Come Thru’, and when I wanna reminisce I’ll play ‘Club Paradise’.
Since you’ve started making music in 2020 to now, what’s changed for you?
I’ve kind of just understood myself and I’ve understood what I was gonna say. I’ve understood my tone of voice and how I want to project it. You’re always evolving and as you progress in this music ting you’re always gonna improve, so I’m just slowly evolving into learning how to do new things with my voice and shit, do you know what I mean?
Obviously you’re still at quite an early stage in your career, but have you had a moment that’s made you feel like you’re on the right path?
Yeah, man! When I met Drake, bro. That’s when I knew that we were actually going to do this ting, still.
How did that come about?
I went to Boi-1da’s house in Toronto and I stayed there for like a month. We went to a Drake concert and went backstage. Him and Boi-1da were just chatting and he introduced me and Drake said, ‘Yeah, I know your thing’. I was like ‘Oh, Shit!’ I was just thinking like you’re gonna give me a boner, bro, chill. (Laughs)
Last year you came out with your ‘Not A Statistic’ EP. What does that title mean to you?
I think I was mad depressed, bro. I’ll keep it a buck – I was in a bad space. I didn’t want to be a statistic in the ends, I didn’t want to be a statistic in music. I don’t want to be what could have been, and I was feeling like, I’m headed down the path of what could have been before things changed.
What do you think put you down that path?
Bro, I don’t even know. That’s a good question. Obviously with music it’s like, you might not see yourself get the biggest numbers innit? That might be a bit disheartening, or you might look at your peers and see everyone just doing a bit better than you. It can get to a plus where you kind of envy it and you wish you were there. I felt like maybe I was moving too slowly for everyone.
If you’re feeling that way do you feel like music almost gives you a way out?
Yeah. I feel like I can write something down and get it out of my system. Once I get a sad topic out of my system I feel like that’s when I’m finally able to get over it.
You were saying earlier about seeing the paths to success for rappers coming out of your area. Did you find it harder approaching music with more of a singing angle?
Yeah, yeah. Obviously it’s a bit wet when you’re singing, innit? Let’s be real. I was just like, ‘Rah, I’m wet.’ That’s how I was feeling at first. And then obviously I grew up around the trap guys and the driller guys so I just felt a bit wet singing and they probably thought I was wet as well for a bit until it started working.
Who would you say is the first person who really believed in you?
My manager was the first person to believe in me, still. He was the first person to really kind of put me in music.
You’ve released a few singles this year, ‘Reverse’ and ‘Maddest Hoes’. What kind of route are you going down this year?
I was just kind of releasing to release, bro. I wanted to just get some music out there and show that man can just make and post good music and appreciate good music in general.
You’re new single, ‘Ocean Drive’ has just come out as well. It’s quite a horny track…
(Laughs) Yeah, it probably is, bro. I do be horny, still. I’ll keep it a buck.
You’ve also been on a couple of tours now with Craig David and Jack Harlow. What were those experiences like?
On the Craig David tour I was mad young, bro. I was proper young in music as well so it’s not even like I was making the best music at that time. It was still sick though! Obviously I was gassed that people were screaming over me but these times I was in uni so I had to do my exams on the road. I did the Jack Harlow one just after I finished uni. I enjoyed that one, still. That was probably my best tour ever because I was prepared and I’d done it before.
Jack Harlow DM’d me to ask me to go on tour and confirmed it two days before the first show. We linked in Birmingham and from there we just ate together, chilled together, every single time. My girlfriend came on tour with us and she was a fan of his so it was just lit. He let the mandem come on tour with us. It was good vibes.
What did you do at uni?
I did economics with maths at the University of Kent.
Was that something you decided to do?
Bro (Sighs), my Mum forced me, G. I swear down I wasn’t on this education ting. For my GCSE’s I was predicted U’s but when they came back I was getting A’s and B’s. My Mum stormed in and picked my A-Levels for me. Then I did good in those as well and she patterned my personal statement and stuff.
Do you ever think you’ll use your degree?
Fuck that, bro! I’m trying to make music. I’m trying to be the biggest artist, G! Fuck an economics degree! Maybe when I’m like 50 and I want to make a business with all the money I made from music but for now bro, I’m baking.
There always seems to be a lot of discourse around both the US and UK about the state of R&B. There’s obviously a lot of UK talent with people like yourself, Mahalia, NO GUIDNCE. What do you make of it?
I just do me, bro. Good music is good music, innit? I’m not gonna sit here and say I’m so tapped into the scene. I fuck with everyone you said. I fuck with Odeal. I just like people who make good music.
If people want to make a scene then they’ve got to come together and start showing love to each other. In the Rap scene, everyone collabs with each other or everyone will jump on someone’s mixtape. Tell me when you’ve heard a NO GUIDNCE and FLO song, or a Jorja Smith and Mahalia song? They don’t collab so how can there be a scene? There’s enough space for everyone but people want the limelight to themselves. Let’s keep it a buck.
I just stick with my batch, innit? Obviously Odeal, JayO – those are my guys outside of music – like they’ll come to my yard and that. I’m down to do whatever with anyone but I hate this scene chat. I don’t associate with no-one, bro. ‘Llow me. Just be real with it.
Since you’ve started there’s been a lot of people who have reached out and shown love to you. Everyone from Dave. Bryson Tiller, Larry June. Is there anyone in particular who stands out?
This is going to sound ungrateful but I always say that co-signs don’t pay the bills. Obviously though, the one I was most gassed about was definitely Boi-1da. Personally, I think he’s changed my life by doing my album. Artist wise, probably Bryson Tiller and Jack Harlow.
Jack Harlow actually put money in my pocket with his co-sign. Even when we were on tour he would post my music bare, bro. So many fans of Jack Harlow are now fans of man. With Bryson Tiller, as soon as I was in LA I was at his yard. He took me to bare parties. We were making music and he was trying to do a joint tape. Foggieraw as well, that one was organic. When he came to London we ended up doing like five songs together.
Finally, in terms of the future, what can we expect from you going forward?
I don’t know, bro. Obviously I want to be one of the biggest and a household name, but how long is that going to take? Who knows, bro. I’m just going to carry on releasing music, bro. That’s all I really can do ▄
Nippa’s latest single, ‘Ocean Drive’, is available now on all platforms.