Dossier | Artist
Niska is today a French major rapper. Recently, we learned that he sold more than 1.000.000 albums! He is a superstar here, and in some other countries too. Born in 1994, he grew up in Evry in the “Champtier-du-Coq ” neighborhoods. Before he began to rap, he was an educator. In the early 2010s, he began to release some music with his group “Negro Deep”. But it’s with his solo mixtape that we became famous in 2014. Let’s have a look at Niska’s amazing career. How did he become so big? What kind of future is waiting for him?
• The beginning
Niska began rapping with Skaodi. Both were part of the same duo, called “Negro Deep” [which can be translated as Deep Nigg**]. They dropped their first music video on YouTube in September 2012. They were dropping dirty and violent verses on very hard drill and trap beats (remember, 2012 was the year of Chief Keef’s album “Finally Rich” and France was caught by the Chiraq wave). Besides “Negro Deep” activities, Niska began to drop some singles on YouTube.
Slowly, but surely, Niska began to acquire some popularity. It’s really in December 2014 with “Allô Maitre Simonard” [Hello lawyer Simonard] that he had a bigger exposure, still with a lot of violent punchline like “91 on aime trop la violence” [“91 department we really like violence]. After this masterclass move, feeling the success coming, Niska dropped 3 music videos in 3 months: “Charlie Delta Charlie Freestyle” in January 2015, “Carjack Chiraq” in February and, finally, “Freestyle PSG” in March. It was the beginning of a successful career. “Freestyle PSG” is the one that projects Niska in the sky. This song is a tribute to Paris soccer team. It has all the ingredients of Niska’s success: hardcore beats, dirty and violent lyrics (“Elle prend par l’cul, elle veut pas s’faire éclater le clito”: She take it in the ass, she don’t want me to explode her clitoris) and, for the first time of his career, some really great dance moves. The “Matuidi Charo Dance”, as it was called in tribute to the soccer player Blaise Matuidi, made him famous. The ball player used it each time he had to celebrate a goal (and there were a lot this year). Soccer in France is like Basketball in the US. So, you can get why that was huge at that time!
In 2015, he released his first mixtape, “Charo Life”. This album did not perform well in terms of sales. However, he had his place on the French rap scene. After this commercial failure, Niska swears to himself to do better the next time. Thus, Gims (the best-selling rapper in France at the time) invited him on his album and in 2015 they dropped “Sapé comme jamais” [Dressed better than ever]. This song confirmed Niska’s success. And, in 2016, Niska released his first studio album “Zifukoro”, which completed Niska’s status as a big name in the industry.
This album, produced by Dj Belleck, took the First place in the charts the first week. There were two features on this project Booba and SCH, two huge rappers. As of now “Zifukoro” is a platinum record.
• Niska the superstar
After a great beginning to his career, Niska had to confirm his talent. He took a little more time to work on his second album. He released “Commando” in September 2017. It seems that it was Niska’s second form. Nobody at that time could anticipate the real impact of this album. Today, we can say that it had an enormous influence. In July 2017, two months before the album release, Niska dropped the music video for “Réseaux”… It broke the Internet, the rap scene and France in general. The video, the dance moves, the gimmicks, Niska’s flow, and lyrics (about women), everything was perfectly calibrated. This song stayed eleven weeks at the first place of the charts in France, a record of longevity. Moreover, it was the most streamed song for Spotify France. Today, the music video has almost 300 million views and the single is diamond certified. Moreover, this album contains a lot of different and quality tracks.It has a little something for everyone. Niska made some sad trap songs about street’s life, poverty and crime’s stories like “Story X”, “Salé”, “Favelas” (Featuring Skaodi) or “Medelin”. This album also had some great bangers like “Réseaux”, Tuba Life (featuring Booba) and “W.L.G.”. The commercial success of this album was huge. “Commando” became a gold record one week after its release and a diamond record (500.000 album sold) after one year of exploitation. “Réseaux” even had a remix with Quavo and Stefflon Don.
After this amazing success story, Niska admitted that he had some pressure to do better, or at least to stay at this level. He took two years off. And, last year, in 2019, he dropped a new album. Niska’s bet to do better was won. Musically it’s like if the rapper is always stepping up at each new album. In fact, the last album is maybe the most melodic one. “Médicament” (Featuring Booba) is a great example of it. Very melodic, this track was a huge hit in France last summer. Moreover, this album contained an even larger musical diversity than “Commando”. There is some dirty bangers like “Méchant” (Featuring Ninho), “La zone est minée”, “Tous les couler” (Featuring Koba LaD), “Passa passa”, “Bon déjà” and “J’suis dans les wayes”. It also have some club songs like “Moula” (featuring Heuss l’Enfoiré) and melodic sad songs like “Bâtiment”, “Manu le Coq” (featuring Skaodi) and “Des flingues et des roses” [Guns and roses]. As you can see, Niska invited a lot of big artists to work with him on this album. “Mr Sal” is also my favorite Niska’s album, with “Commando”. In any case, a lot of listeners consider that this album is his most complete work. In any case, commercial success was here again: “Mr Sal” became a platinum record in one month.
• The ingredient to Niska’s success
The first ingredient to Niska’s success is his energy. He is a very charismatic rapper with a lot of energy. Moreover, his dance moves are great, easy and very efficient. Most of his songs often come with choreography that he creates. These good vibes are, for sure, a big part of his success as we talked about with his “Matuidi Charo” dance for example. Some of his moves have even become memes on social networks.
The second ingredient to Niska’s success may be his nasty punchlines and his gimmicks. The rapper is famous for his funny and nasty punchlines. There are too many examples like “Depuis que je perce, les filles n’ont plus leurs règles / Depuis que je perce, les filles n’ont plus de mecs » [Ever since I became famous, girls don’t have theirs periods anymore / Ever since I became famous, girls don’t have no boyfriends no more] or “J’ai un flow de baisé, c’est mon côté nymphomane” [I have a fucked up flow, that’s my nymphomaniac side]. Niska is also famous for his many toplines like the very famous “Pouloulou”.
The third ingredient to Niska’s success is his melodic skills. Each time the artist drops a new album, he is always finding new and interesting melodies. It seems that Niska works a lot on it. “Médicament” or “Bâtiment” are some nice examples of his skills. Niska is for sure a melodic masterclass artist.
Niska’s fourth ingredient to success is the variety of songs that he made. As we explain he became famous with very violent and aggressive drill songs with Chicago’s influences. He can rap about crime, violence and dirty stuff with disconcerting ease. However, he also made a lot of funny songs about women or his lifestyle. Niska is also a trap banger master. It may be the kind of songs he is better at. Finally, he is also a great artist for sad songs about poverty and street’s life. In fact, he is a great rapper whether it be club songs, violent bangers, sad tracks or funny singles.
Another ingredient to Niska’s success is also that the artist isn’t in the “cloud” stuff. He is discreet when he doesn’t have an album to promote. He mostly let his music speak for him, and this is something that we can appreciate in our time. To be really precise, he sometimes has some polemic but this is mostly about his personal life and his relationship with women (like recently when he got caught in a Twitter clash with his ex-girlfriend, Aya Nakamura).
Finally, his music has the potential to become huge in other countries than France. It has an international feels to it. For example, he has been chosen by the American producer Diplo to represent France in his “Europa” EP on the track “Boom Bye Bye” (a really great one by the way). He also did a “Colors Show” for his song Bon Déjà.
Niska is today one of the biggest artists in the French rap scene. As I explained, his success can be explained logically. The rapper is a great worker and he is always performing better than before. He is always improving. He may be walking on Booba’s path to become one of the greatest French rappers. I personally think that Niska could also be the rapper who will make the French rap scene more international. In any case, stay updated because he may be about to cook some amazing product really soon…