Indian American rappers are few and far between. But music lovers, keep your eyes peeled for one talented San Francisco Bay Area, California-based rapper who is already causing quite a stir.
Nivo, who has released music sporadically over the past couple years, impressively balancing a music career with a 60-plus hour workweek as a software engineer in Silicon Valley, has just released his new video which is grabbing eyeballs.
Titled, “Bad One,” the video was shot in Dubai, but the song came to be while he was homebound due to the spread of Covid-19. One beat led to another and before he knew it, he had created a peppy number.
“I was basically quarantining at my parents’ house and it was during a time where I couldn’t really go anywhere because I didn’t want to risk bringing COVID back home,” Nivo, who is passionate about hip-hop, told India-West. “So literally I was just at home all day making beats. One day I set out to make a super up-tempo club song and I started with the bell sounds you hear during the intro. Then I did the drums and then I did the chords. Then I was listening back on the song, again with the intentions of making a party song, and I really liked the way the chords sounded, so I just played them by themselves with just the clap on and all the other drums off and it turned into a whole different vibe. It was fast, but smooth and ambient.”
Nivo said that it could’ve gone either way in terms of pop or R&B direction.
“I decided to just get on the mic and freestyle, and that’s when immediately I just started saying ‘Trust in me ahh trust in me.’ I wasn’t thinking about any special girl or any previous relationship in general, but rather just vibing on the beat and it sort of just came it out without me thinking about it. As soon as I listened back to it, I knew right away it was an R&B smash which for me is rare because most of my songs have more energy and are more aggressive hip-hop style tracks so that made this even more special,” he recalled.
From there, he said, the rest of the inspiration just came from within to continue the vibe that he had started with the initial lyrics.
“I recorded but finished the beat as more of a ‘driving around late at night’/bedroom vibe as opposed to a club banger,” the innovative artist, who is currently in Dubai, said.
Shortly after finishing the song, Nivo flew to Dubai to continue making music since he is gaining popularity in the Dubai music scene, he said.
In Dubai, when a group of friends listened to the unreleased track, they insisted he make a video for it.
“I linked up with Ozzy and Zaki, who are some of the most popular music video producers and directors, respectively, in the region, and we planned out a whole day shoot at the Palm Jumeirah. It wasn’t particularly challenging getting the video done and we were actually able to turn the video shoot into a fun little party, which was unexpected, and ended up with some unexpected party scenes in the video that turned out really great,” Nivo told India-West.
Commenting on the music scene in Dubai, Nivo said: “There’s such a hunger for that western hip-hop vibe in so many pockets out here but not enough local artists and enough of a local hip-hop scene to fill that void.”
“It’s been great to experience the love that I’ve been showed for my music out here because of that and is a really great opportunity to continue growing out here,” he added.
Nivo recently also released a single, “Runnin’ It Up,” that he produced himself way back in 2016. The only missing piece was a catchy hook, so he tapped Rexx Life Raj, another burgeoning Bay Area rapper, to round out the song.
Nivo has worked extensively with Sobhhï – a childhood friend and one of the top hip-hop/R&B artists in Dubai – releasing a joint EP, “Luxury Casual,” together in 2019, a project that charted in 10-plus countries.
He is slated to drop a string of singles over the coming weeks, and with a Sony Middle East deal on the horizon, things are looking up for one of the most enigmatic Indian American artists.
Watch “Bad One” here: