Niykee Heaton Niykee Heaton
VIBE/ Stacy-Ann Ellis

Interview: Niykee Heaton Takes Us On Her Journey From The ‘Net To A National Tour

Niykee Heaton won't let anyone knock her music hustle, determined to prove that she's much more than just a pretty face on your IG timeline.

Niykee Heaton refuses to let the unseasonably crisp 43-degree April temps in NYC bother her during her day of press runs. As she struts into VIBE’s Manhattan offices, she’s wearing a heavy, light-colored jean jacket and an oversized gray NBK (“Naturyl Born Killers,” her personal brand) sweatshirt, which work perfectly with the rather frightful weather outside. However, she can also be seen wearing two mighty-thin layers of flesh-toned leggings, which are more than likely designed to make you do a double take.

“Don’t wear pants!” she says to me with a grin. “You’ve got such a cute little body!” Her confident, no-f**ks given personality is not far off from the open book presence she’s known for on social media. You may be one of her 2 million Instagram followers, but the 21-year-old blonde bombshell is here to prove she can do more than break the Internet.

The Illinois-bred songstress gained immense popularity via YouTube three years ago by performing acoustic versions of hip-hop songs from the comfort of her bedroom, such as Chief Keef’s “Love Sosa” and Trinidad Jame$’ “All Gold Everything.” Since then, her extreme work-ethic coupled with her mastery of self-promotion has helped her emerge as a bright spot in the pop music realm. She’s had the chance to work with Russell Simmons and Migos, she’s met with Kanye West in the studio, and has performed at events like UMG’s “Music Is Universal” SXSW showcase this past March.

The Capitol Records signee recently wrapped up her first headlining concert, The Bedroom Tour, in late 2015, which was sold out for all 20 stops. A “do-it-yourself” kind of gal, the Florida local self-wrote and produced her debut EP, 2014’s Bad Intentions, as well as her March 2016 mixtape, The Bedroom Tour Playlist, which features remixed and remastered versions of the songs performed on the tour.

Her steady rise as a musician has not been easy. Internet trolls and detractors have questioned if she is truly a musical force to be reckoned with, but it seems like she’s not letting anyone knock her hustle, proving that she is much more than just a pretty face. Read on to learn about your #WCW’s experiences both online and on the music radar.

VIBE: What’s it like making the transition from YouTube into the music industry?
Niykee Heaton: For me, it wasn't such a crazy transition, because I never really thought of myself as a “YouTube star.” I never wanted to be a Youtube star. I always thought it was kind of corny when people would just do covers for a living; I never wanted to be known as that. I'm grateful that I could get noticed through YouTube and by doing covers, but that was never a long term thing for me, so it was really easy to be like push that to the side, and be like, "Wait, this is my real music." So I kinda did that without thinking. It was my fans who had to catch up and make that transition, which they're slowly doing.

How has having a South African upbringing shaped you, because I know your mom is from there, right?
I was actually born in Illinois. My sister was born in South Africa and all my mother's side still live there, so I'm actually half. Even though I was pretty much raised in the United States and I only went there to visit family, I always felt like that was home. And I never knew why I felt so out of place in Chicago until I went back and I visited my family, and I was like "oh, this is where I'm meant to be." I love South Africa. That's where I want to retire, that's where I wanna be whenever I have downtime, but having that sort of background. My mom's family are very much hippies and very free-spirited. Very, very laid back, very about nature and beauty and everything like that, so I think having that side to my ancestry is pretty cool. I think that's where I get my free-spiritedness from.

What type of music did your parents play in your house when you were growing up?
My parents kind of had sh*t taste in music. I think my mom was into, like, Steely Dan or something. I was like "you're so annoying." My dad, I don't think he was a crazy music person either, it was more of my siblings. They were the ones who were very musical. My sister had a very deep appreciation for music, and my brother plays the mandolin and the banjo and everything like that, so that's where I kind of got all my music taste from, my siblings. They listened to a lot of folk and bluegrass, so I was kind of brought up on that. Then, when I ventured out and I could think for myself, I started listening to rap music, so it’s kind of like those two worlds collided.

Who’s the first rap artist that you were like, “oh yeah, this is my person”?
I remember exactly! 'Cause I was in fourth or fifth grade, and it was Lil Jon. I was like, "This. Is. Everything." That was the first type of music I got into.

A little crunk!
I guess it would be crunk music. I was like, “This is my life! This is who I'm meant to be!" I was like nine and my siblings tried to beat down my door, telling me to turn it down. I was like, "Nuh-uh. This is me now." [laughs]

What was it like working with Migos on your song “Bad Intentions”?
They're really cool. I've always been fans of them, and they're just the, like, sweetest guys ever. I was actually on tour, and I was in Atlanta performing and they stopped by to support. I had no idea until I got off stage and they were right there. They came in, performed a song and then, we went back to the studio with them and hung out. Then we went to the strip club with them. It was like a whole big adventure with them, but we ended up forming a really good relationship with all of them, and I'm in love with all three of them. I love them, they're honestly so cool. They’re one of the only artists that I've met who I've imagined them and perceived them a certain way, and when I met them, I was not disappointed. They were exactly what I thought they would be. They’re the best people ever.

When you’re writing songs, where do you get your inspiration?
I feel like I draw inspiration from everything around me, including my past and things that I went through. I feel like it isn't just the stories I've had to tell from my childhood, it's... I might be going through a rough patch right now, or I might be going through some things, and I draw inspiration from the frustration that I'm dealing with. Or, you know, some guy that didn't answer my text. I draw inspiration from pretty much everywhere. But I try not to write about specific places, events or people. I like to keep it broad and talk about emotions or moods or just a vibe, because I feel like people can relate to something more generalized rather than something so specific.

I get that. You don’t want them to be like, “Oh, she’s talking about herself. Why would I want to listen to that?”
Exactly. Not everyone got their heart broken by the guy named Jimmy on a Wednesday, but everyone can relate to pain and loss and stuff like that, so that's kind of how I like to keep my music: generalized.

One of your songs “Devil” (off of the Bedroom Tour Playlist) has a very blues-inspired sound. Did you listen to a lot of blues music by way of your siblings?
What's weird is that they never really listened to blues! But actually, the way I learned how to sing is that I found a Diana Ross Greatest Hits album, and I literally memorized and mimicked every one of those songs until I could teach myself how to sing. Because I didn't naturally know how; I sounded awful, I was like, tone deaf, and everyone was like "Can you f**king stop singing?" I had to teach myself how and that's how I did it. I listened to Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin and a lot of Nat King Cole, and I feel like that kind of stuck with me. So I do have that kind of bluesy soul resonance that stayed with my vibe, mixed in with all the other weird components about my music. I feel like there's so many weird elements to it.

What’s your favorite song from The Bedroom Tour Playlist?
“Devil” is my favorite because it reminded me of AC/DC meets Juicy J [laughs]. But for us, we put Playlist out and everyone was like aren't you so excited? We were like, "No, we've been hearing these songs for, like, four years!" I've already written 30 new songs that I'm ready to put out, so we're very tired of them!

What "it factor" do you think you can bring to the music industry that we haven't already seen before?
I think the one thing about me that's very different from all the other artists and acts in the industry right now is that I really pride myself on being a real musician and a real artist. I was horrified when I found out that people in this industry don't write their own music. They have nothing to do with any of their songs, they just act like a puppet, and it absolutely horrified me because at first, people wanted me to do that. They wanted to take away and strip me of my identity and have me be this puppet. There's no f**kin’ way. I'd rather never be famous. I'd rather give all this up right now because you cannot take away my music from me. Most of the pop stars out right now, they're performers or they're recording artists or they're just really polished, amazing mannequins. But there's a difference between being that and being a musician, and I feel that's what I am. I'm a musician, I make music from scratch, from the ground up. I produce it, I write it, I sing it, I perform it, and I feel that's the way music should be. I want to bring that back into the industry. And also, hey, I can do it wearing minimal clothing, and I still do it well! You know? You can do all these things, you don't have to have guidelines or restrictions or rules. You can be exactly what you wanna be if you can do it well.

You get a lot of attention on social media, so how do you balance it out, so your presence doesn’t interfere with your music career?
I feel like it's a hard thing to do. For me, as a human-being, it isn't hard, but I feel like for everyone looking at me and perceiving me as a person, it's hard for them to accept me as a musician and also as a person who is just something pretty to look at. What sucks about society is they have this concept and this idea that if you are pretty to look at, and if you have a nice body and a nice face, then how dare you claim to also have any sort of talent. They want you to just be pretty and just be a model, so it's hard trying to convince people that, no, I can do both, I don't have to pick one. I don't have to wear a garbage bag over my whole body in order for you to take me seriously, and to take my voice seriously and my talents. No one should have to choose. You can own your sexuality and be empowered, and also claim the craft and be an intellectual. That's the message that I'm trying to push and the movement that we're standing behind. But it's hard, because people are very close-minded.

Do you want to be a role model in that sense, or would you rather not have that stigma?
I never wanted to be a role model, because I'm not perfect. I'm not like a little Disney Channel star who, you know... I'm a human being with flaws, and I never thought that I would have these young girls looking up to me and calling me their idol. It's so crazy to me. Before, I would have said "oh, hell no. I don't want any of that. I don't want to do any of that, I just want to do music." But, I think it's because of the girls who have reached out and told me their story and how I've helped them that I feel, not obligated, but I feel like I can't shy away from that now, because they almost kind of gave me that title, and I don't want to let them down. I'm just gonna keep pushing and keep doing what I'm supposed to do.

How do you push the haters away who have tried to discount your success?
At first it was hard because I'm not a mean person. I don't think I've ever bullied anyone online or said mean things or ever just tried to hurt anyone, so it's hard for me to understand that. That was really crazy to me, so I was like, maybe, I just don't look at any of those things. But what's hard is that in order to see the comments and messages from my real fans saying positive things, I have to go and see all the terrible things, too. In order to appreciate the fans who are there to show me love, I have to hurt myself by seeing all of these awful things. It's hard to balance, so I try to stay away from Instagram comments because that's where most of the [rolls eyes] is, so I try not to read Instagram comments. But Twitter is good. It’s mostly my real fans so it's not that hard.

I feel like back in the day, people were always showing midriff and skin, and today, it’s such a big deal. I don’t get it.
I don't know why society sexualizes nudity so much. It's just skin! Unless I'm literally demonstrating the use of dildos or having sex with someone right in front of you, I'm not being sexual. It's just me owning my body and being proud of it. I'm not doing anything sexual, just because people perceive it that way is not my problem, and I'm not gonna put on a cape to make people more comfortable with me being nude. I'm always so hot!

It’s always either so hot or so cold! I’m dreading summer, I absolutely hate it. Do you have bad humidity in Florida?
So much humidity! So, no clothes! I love the humidity though, to be honest, because it's another reason to be nude [laughs]. Just wear less clothes, I said it's fine!

 

From the Web

More on Vibe

Sean Zanni

Swizz Beatz On Art Endeavors, 'Godfather of Harlem,' Son Painting His Nails

Swizz Beatz has already established himself a rap legend, with 20-plus years of production credits with hip-hop and R&B greats. But now, the passionate collector and curator is making just as much of a name for himself in the art world. He and his wife Alicia Keys have founded The Dean Collection, which loans pieces to museums and galleries around the world while advocating to get creators paid and introducing art to new audiences. Those endeavors continued this week, as their entity partnered with the Marriott Bonvoy and American Express for the platform, "Women In Art."

At an intimate dinner in New York City, the organizations honored Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels, director of the renowned Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City. Bellorado-Samuels worked with two artists, February James and LaKela Brown, who created two pieces that will be on display at the Dream Party event during Art Basel in Miami, Fla. Similar to his work in music, Swizz is always pulling the strings, both publicly and behind the scenes, to present valuable artists at their best.

But don't let his art endeavors make you think he's not still active in music. His 2018 album Poison was one of the year's best with collaborations with the likes of Nas, Lil Wayne, and Young Thug. This year, he's dropped weekly heat for the soundtrack of Godfather of Harlem, a new show on Epix starring Forest Whitaker as 1960s crime boss Bumpy Johnson. The songs have featured Rick Ross, DMX, A$AP Ferg, Dave East, Jidenna, Pusha T, and many more – and Swizz is overseeing them all as the executive music producer. VIBE spoke to Swizz about honoring women in art, creating a soundtrack without having finished the show, and his response to online controversy surrounding his son.

---

VIBE: So what’s the occasion for tonight?

Swizz Beatz: Tonight is the announcement of the continuation of my partnership with Marriott Bonvoy and American Express with the Dean Collection. Tonight, we’re celebrating an amazing female force behind the creatives in the art world, her name is Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels. Then we have two accompanying artists that we’re celebrating that we added to the celebration, one’s name is February and the other’s name is LeKela. It’s an honor to celebrate these amazing women in art and have great partners like American Express, Marriott Bonvoy, and push the conversation forward.

The partnership first started with an interest in the Dean Collection and all the different things we’ve been doing around the world with the arts and giving back. American Express and Marriott Bonvoy felt it was a perfect opportunity to fuse the two together and make the message louder. Very organic.

Tonight, the event is honoring Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels. What made her the right choice for this?

She works with Jack Shainman, which is a very popular gallery.  Seventy percent of my collection in the past five years has been through that gallery, and she’s the person that’s behind the scenes dealing with the artists, all the phone calls and all the emails, but then also always showing up to everybody else’s events. So I thought, why don’t we celebrate the person who always celebrates? Just thought it was a great way to spotlight, give her an award, let her smell her flowers, let her know that she’s appreciated for all the work she’s done to give everybody else life in the art world.

We’re having a party called the Dream Party, which is a pajama party, and then you see the two artists designed those pajamas. Those are going to be for sale, and the proceeds go to those artists. Just thinking outside the box and having fun. I think it might be the first pajama party at Basel.

Are women recognized as they should be in the art world, or is this against the grain in that respect?

Man, there’s so much work still to be done. I think women in the art world make up three percent of the sales, so it’s our job to increase that number by any means necessary. It starts with things like what we’re doing now. Putting the spotlight and having a male, and also my wife, who’s a part of the Dean Collection, saying “let’s do something where women can feel special as well, and boost the awareness so we can try to even out the numbers a little bit, just like everything else in the world.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

🖤🤓 I am super thankful to have been recognized for my work in the Art community by @AmericanExpress, @MarriottBonvoy, @TheDeanCollection, and my dear friend @TheRealSwizzz as part of their platform to support “Women in Art”. This recognition means the world to me and I am excited to continue being an advocate in the art community in order to help spotlight other women creatives like the insanely talented @LakelaBrown and @FebruaryJames. I’ll be unveiling more soon at Miami Art Week with #mbonvoyamex #AmexAmbassador #ad (but I mean it)

A post shared by JØɆØ₦₦₳ bellorado-samuels (@joeonna) on Nov 15, 2019 at 3:01pm PST

You also have a talk coming up at Art Basel with Kehinde Wiley. How did that come together?

Kehinde Wiley started an honors residency called Black Rock in Senegal. We went there for the opening to support him. This talk is raising money for Black Rock. Kehinde was the first artist to officially participate in No Commissions as an established artist, even when everybody was scared to do it. Just the fact that it was going towards Kehinde, I had to support him. He’s a real brother.

A few minutes ago, I said that I’m not in the art world, and you said that I can be. For someone who’s not a collector yet and who doesn’t have the means that you have, how would you suggest they get involved?

There’s a lot of information online, there’s a lot of gallery shows. And there’s art available for people of all levels financially. That’s one of the stigmas, that art is only for rich people. That’s not the case. Art is available for whoever wants it, it’s just the scale that you want to play on at that time. Get your entry point, and it goes up from the entry point. Just like No Commissions, you can get an amazing print from an amazing artist like Swoon. That money goes toward Heliotrope, which is a foundation of helping people, for $30. There’s no excuses. But in the near future, I have my technology coming out called Smart Collection, which is going to give people an entry point on how to really get it cracking.

You ever think back to when you first started collecting and think “man, I’m at the point where I’m getting artists paid, I’m speaking to one of the greatest artists in the world at Art Basel.” How often do you think about how far you’ve come in that respect?

I reflect on where I’m at now, but I still know that I’m only just beginning. There’s still a lot of work to be done. I’m happy that I was a part of bringing African American collecting--whatever we helped do, we’re forever thankful. But it’s about all forms of art. And all colors, by the way. Art has many colors, but I see none of them. I feel like a dope creative is a dope creative. We invested heavy into African American art because we weren’t owning enough of our own culture. We have artists from all around the world in our collection. So it’s pretty balanced out. It’s been fun collecting living artists and having a relationship with them, and being able to do things like we’re doing here tonight with our partners at American Express.

You’ve done a great job with the Godfather in Harlem soundtrack songs every week. How have you been putting that together?

It’s been fun. I’ve turned every night in the studio into an event, and it allowed me to step out the box. Every week you hear a different sonic, and it sounds like it’s for the show, but the show is based all the way back then but it feels now. I just got in my zone. I’m happy with where the show is going, it’s breaking records. I’m happy to be the executive music producer.

Are you watching each episode and breaking down plots for the artists to create songs to?

I’m just playing clips, and I’m letting them write to those clips. That’s why the songs feel like they were meant for the show. No particular order. I didn’t watch the whole series yet, I watch every Sunday as a fan. I didn’t want to ruin it for myself.

In recent weeks, your wife Alicia Keys posted about your son wanting to paint his nails but being afraid of being teased in school. How is he holding up, and how do you and Alicia foster a household that can embrace creativity and feminine energy?

We let our kids have their freedom. That incident she was talking about was a one-time incident. That wasn’t something he asks to do every day. He’s four years old. He’s in the nail shop with his mom, and he’s like, “that looks cool.” That’s art to him. Us as men, now, we all put our mother’s shoes on when we were younger. We were exploring. Name one person who didn’t put their mother’s shoes on growing up. We don’t cut off the exploration and give a four-year-old a label. My son is harder than most guys I know; he’s a real serious kid, to be honest. If you look at his Instagram, he’s one of my more serious kids. But he’s also open to express how he wants to express. Although as a father I’m going to teach him things to know to protect himself, I’m also going to let him explore himself. I am who I am because I was able to explore. We just live in a world sometimes where people want to put a label on something, but you can’t put a label on a four-year-old. My wife had a great message. It probably was misinterpreted, but she meant what she said, and I stand behind what she said. I don’t have any labels on my kids.

Continue Reading
Lee Steffen

MK Asante's 'While Black' Docuseries Explores Being A Gifted POC In America

The bravery of the youth has been at the heart of some of the nation's most prominent organizations like the Black Power movement, civil rights movement, and Black Lives Matter, to name a few. The unparalleled courage of raw-minded young adults is uplifting, educational, and not to be ignored. One person paying attention to the shorties of the future is activist and professor, MK Asante.

Asante, author of Buck: A Memoir and It's Bigger than Hip-Hop, joined forces with Snapchat for a ten-episode docuseries titled While Black with MK Asante, produced by Snap’s joint venture with NBCUniversal, Indigo Development and Entertainment Arts, along with Main Event Media. The program explores what it means to be young, gifted and black through the lens of several young men and women who are making a radical change within themselves and their communities

"On average, over 210 million people use Snapchat daily, and 90 percent of 13-24-year-olds in America are on Snapchat, so we want to create a series that dealt with some really important and impactful issues, and deal with it where the kids are," MK Asante said during a phone conversation with VIBE. "We want to create a show that starts a conversation and empowers them on their phones. Snapchat has been a pioneer in mobile storytelling. And this series explores what it means to be young gifted and black in America."

The professor of English and film at Morgan State University spoke to us about While Black With MK Asante, lessons gleaned from kids hosting the Snap Originals series, and more.

...

VIBE: The kid Nasir, who talked about being shot...the intelligence he has for being in tune with his emotions is inspiring. Many of today's young rappers are in tune with their emotions like that.  Asante: That’s my nephew. He’s 19 years old, he’s been shot. He survived all of that and makes music. In his music he tells the story, it’s a very inspirational story. He’s 19 and he’s found his purpose. And he understands why he’s here now. But he also talks about his perspective on gun violence.

Nasir talked on his own. Those weren't questions I asked him. He started on his own talking about PTSD, and what that’s like. The film crew observed that my nephew is very observant. In a way that’s noticeable. You’re dealing with someone who notices every single thing around him, behind him, in front of him, every car that rides by. Someone commented on that, and he said, "It’s PTSD. I’m aware of everything. I have to be."

Can you tell me about one of the kids you spoke with who is doing amazing work in his/her community?   Thandiwe Abdullah, she's a 16-year-old co-founder of the Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles Youth Vanguard. She helped organize, and lead a bunch of demonstrations, and a bunch of actions that ultimately lead to the overturning of racism in L.A. school policy in random police searches of kids' bags and stuff like that. We talked to her about all of these issues. You have more hope for the future because you realize that there are young people like that who get it.

Speaking of random police searches, when they use language about high crime rates in these areas, how do you combat that? It’s not an argument that we honestly heard while we were making the show, but it’s an argument that I have heard. When you look at the numbers, statistically, you realize that the great majority of African American kids are not criminals. I think the problem is that we’re really talking about perception, we’re not talking about reality. We're talking about the perception that I’m going to do something, not that I’m doing something. How do you perceive someone, and why do you perceive someone the way that you do? Why does a cop throw a 12-year-old child down to the ground and punch them? Because they do not perceive that child as a child. And that’s what we talk about in one of the episodes. It’s not about any realities that are happening. It’s really about a distortion of media, and distortion in the media and distortion over time. This isn’t new.

What did you observe while working with these gifted black kids? I observed that to be young, gifted and black in America means to remove the limitations. The young people that we feature in the show and the spirit that we want to capture is really a spirit of victory, a spirit of overcoming impossible circumstances. One of the things that I see the young people creating is a new language and with a new language comes a new reality.

The show also exposed me to lots of young people around the country, and their articulation of what they’ve been through and what they're going through and even the system was amazing, powerful. They inspired me. That’s one of the things I love about documentary-based stuff. It’s real people. I always feel like I walk away with real information.

For MK Asante, what does it mean to be a black man in America? Not having limitations. Create a new reality, a new language, and a new world. I know that sounds counterintuitive because we’re taught you can’t do this while black, you can’t do that while black. But that is not the totality of our experience.

Continue Reading
Gabe Ginsberg

10 Indie Artists Issa Rae’s Label Raedio Needs To Sign

Insecure star and creator Issa Rae has steamed up timelines all across social media with her trailer for the upcoming rom-com, The Photograph. But after spending much of recent years behind the camera and in front of it with her popular show Insecure and as an executive producer for Robin Thede's Black Lady Sketch Show and Rap Sh*t, she's taking a stab at the music business.

In October, the award-nominated creative announced Raedio, a joint partnership with Atlantic Records which will enable her new baby to carve out more space in the crowded entertainment industry.

“Music has always been an essential part of every project I do and working with emerging talent is a personal passion,” Rae said in a statement. “Raedio allows me to continue that work within the music industry and audio entertainment space. The Atlantic team are innovators in terms of shifting and shaping culture. I’m excited to join forces with them to discover new artists."

Her label reveal kicked off the introduction of Raedio’s flagship artist, Haitian-American singer-rapper TeaMarrr and her single, “Kinda Love.” At the Soul Train Awards this week, she introduced Teamarrr to the audience for a solid performance of the single.

Rae’s track record with spotlighting “female, independent” artists is pretty impressive. From featuring music by Saweetie to SZA to Houston’s own Peyton on her show and soundtracks, Issa has an ear for future sounds unlike anyone else in the biz right now.

With that in mind, VIBE imagines 10 indie acts that we’d love for Issa Rae to sign to her budding label and champion artistic evolution.

***

Emmavie

If Issa is looking for new sounds in the “intense and sensual” department, then Emmavie is the right artist to turn to. Her rhythmic sensibilities enhance any room where lovers are looking to have a red light special moment. Much like her television counterpart, the Harrow, London original writes, arranges, and produces her own music with a mix befitting of Insecure’s vibe. Emmavie’s unique blend of electronic, R&B, and jazz on songs such as “Distraction” and “Can’t Get Over You” would play well over scenes where Molly is caught up between her would-be lovers, Niko and Dro.

Mylezia

Mylezia is considered by most underground R&B/soul lovers as the “King of the First State.” The Delaware Valley native has been recognized by her peers as a rising pop phenom with songs such as “Can’t Trust Your Smile” and “Party Of One” racking up thousands of views and streams online. Her independent success caught the attention of Meek Mill, which meant that the young sensation has not one but two cities riding for her. A nuanced performer with the radiance of a blockbuster supernova, Myleiza can be as powerful as any of today’s pop stars, while remaining down-to-earth like our favorite around-the-way-girls. Backed with an angelic voice and a long family history of singers, Issa Rae’s Raedio label would be betting on a sure winner with Mylezia.

Quiñ

Pasadena all the way down to the socks, singer-songwriter Bianca Leonor Quiñones has been a name that has rang bells around the indie LA R&B scene for some time. Better known as Quiñ (pronounced “Keen”), her song “Mushroom Chocolate” landed into lover’s Valentine’s Day-inspired date night playlists, thanks to her silky vocals and its guest star, Atlanta rapper-singer 6LACK. Her latest project, 7th Heaven, promises to up the ante with a true sense of after-hour musical adventurousness, which, judging by this, is right up Insecure’s lane.

Liza Colby

Oozing danger and sensuality are two traits that singer-songwriter Liza Colby holds in spades. As the frontwoman and lead for The Liza Colby Sound, her sexy-soul vocals are paired with gritty garage textures that make for a thumping, late-night romp. Like Insecure, Colby exerts a confident charisma that blows away the competition and attracts people who enjoy good music with a bit of a rough edge. For example “Cryin,” off the band’s Draw EP, is powerful and free, yet a bit reluctant and demure as well. It would make for a perfect pairing alongside franchise artist, TeaMarrr, whose “One Job” sounds similar in subject and tone.

Jamilah Barry

Jamilah Berry is a super-talented songstress with a strength in storytelling. Her replay-worthy 2018 EP, Salix Babylonica, placed her squarely alongside other UK R&B/soul artists such as NAO and Jorja Smith, thanks to her vocal skill and deft songwriting. Her ability to extricate emotion from inner conflict on songs like “Sunblock” and “More Than (>)” is a trait that Insecure fans have come to know and love from Issa Rae, making this Raedio connection one that would work greatly if it were to happen. With cosigns from Nile Rodgers and Roy Ayers, adding Jamilah Barry to Issa’s label roster is a soulful vibe worth clamoring for.

Yung Baby Tate

Even though 2020 is the year Yung Baby Tate will break out to the masses, Issa Rae has a chance to close by signing this ATL superstar talent. After gaining momentum in the streets with her #MegatronChallenge, bookended by her GIRLS and BOYS projects, Yung Baby Tate is setting her sights higher — and what better way to do so than be a part of Raedio? The versatile artist has explored the alternate identities of girls and women, making jams like “That Girl” and “Freaky Girl” standout amongst all the rest in the game. With Tate on board, Insecure could feature an artist who is thrilling when she’s just being herself on records.

BbyMutha

To call bbymutha “underground” is a misnomer. The Chattanooga MC, whose real name is Brittnee Moore, is a new type of role model. Her parental advisory raps advocate for women to keep fake dudes in the rearview mirror and their money ambitions in the front. Think if Tiffany DuBois was riding for working mothers everywhere set to songs like “Rules” and “Lil’ Bitch,” and you have bbymutha. Raedio could serve as a stable place for the self-proclaimed “work-from-home” mother of four and her upcoming album, Prosperity Gospel. If Issa Rae has cultivated a career where she’s been “rooting for everyone Black,” then signing bbymutha would enable her to move into her “Spooky Mutha Mansion” without begging the white man for a job.

Tiffany Gouche

Tiffany Gouche is no stranger to the music scene, having worked with or shared a stage with the likes of Masego (“Queen Ting”), Terrace Martin (“Never Enough”), Lalah Hathaway (Honestly, 2017) and more. An all-around musician, Tiffany earned everyone’s attention back in 2015 with her esteemed Pillow Talk EP. “Red Rum Melody” might be a bit dated for another sexy-sex scene between Issa and Daniel, but songs like “Dive” and “Down” could be playful and flirty songs that would turn Raedio from a boutique label into a powerhouse that creates a much-needed discussion through stirring melodies.

Joy Postell

Joy Postell is a rising soul singer from Baltimore who has already impressed music lovers with her debut album, Diaspora. Singing about self-love, self-acceptance, and self-awareness, Joy Postell packs a punch on every song she performs. Her mesmerizing vocals on “Make Believe” from Back and Forth (2019) and her advocate intonations on “Consciousness” reflect on what’s happening in her life and the world around her. Raedio’s stance as a label that empowers independent women would be emboldened with Joy Postell’s speaking-truth-to-power vibes on deck.

IAMDDB

Manchester hip-hop songstress IAMDDB is defined by her songs of women empowerment, representation, and self-acceptance—three tenets Raedio subscribes to. At only 22-years-old, Diana Debrito has, in the past few years, graduated from a local favorite into a Miss Lauryn Hill-cosigned, buzzed-about artist all throughout Britain. Her wildly popular songs like “Pause” and “Shade” mixes hip-hop, trap, and silky Afro-jazz, and has garnered over 20 million streams on Spotify. As one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” entries on its annual list, her independent status is ripe for Raedio to bring her talents to the U.S. as R&B’s next big thing.

Continue Reading

Top Stories