Black History Month Mixtape: NIKS

The third contribution to Brixton Jamm’s ‘Black History Month Mixtape’ comes from NIKS, whose sound and music collection is known for being wonderfully eclectic and almost unparalleled.

London based DJ, facilitator, educator and consultant NIKS is the founder of the database and editorial platform Black Artist Database (B.A.D) fka Black Bandcamp. The project began as a spreadsheet with 30 artist names on it, while its founders crowdsourced entries through their online networks and volunteers moderated what came through. Now a full-fledged website, B.A.D  houses over 3,500 artists, producers, labels, bands and counting and has added an editorial, content, and initiatives wing to highlight new music and provide visitors with more context about the releases they’re combing through and ways to support.

We were very pleased to be given the opportunity to dive a little deeper into NIKS’ music collection and discover the tracks that really mean something to her.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat to us today about your selected songs for our Black History Month Playlist! We’re super excited to learn a little bit more about you through the kinda tunes you like to vibe to in your spare time.

Firstly, could you tell us a bit about your background and what makes you proud of your heritage?

I’m south-east London born and bred, lived in Bath whilst completing my 4 year degree, and come from a Caribbean background with St. Lucian grandparents, with 1 of my grandfathers travelling and exploring the Congo. What makes me proud of my heritage is how culturally rich it is, with a specific focus on the roots of music and sound. 

Do you think that music and Black History month have an important connection with each other?

I think there is an important connection between music and Black history in general. BHM just serves to amplify this correlation. 

Great – let’s move onto your first track that you have picked for our playlist. Could you tell us a bit more about it, why you chose it, what it means to you or if you think it’s just a bit of a banger? 

My first track is “Appletree” by Erykah Badu, which is the 3rd track on her Baduizm album which came out in 1997 – still in my top 5 albums. In my own personal downtime I always find myself listening to this album again, in it’s entirety, never get bored, but always discover a new life lesson. This song in particular Badu uses the beautiful analogy of a fruit/apple tree to compare her wisdom and knowledge with – growth, remaining true to oneself and the kind of company you keep. Badu and her wisdom always ground me through her beautiful creations.

Moving onto your second track, why did you pick this one?

Delano Smith’s “Sunrise” EP which came out in 2008, has 1 song in particular “something for myself”, which is pure Detroit bliss in its simplicity, calmness but minimal and compelling groove. You’ll note that all the tracks I have chosen (regardless of genre) are downtempo and intimate, this allows for thoughtful reflection. 

Tell us about your third chosen track.

My third track is one of the longest, and oldest house tracks that I own. Standing at 9 minutes is USG (which is Chez Damier and Ron Trent) and Monica Elam on the vocals. Note that Monica Elam (Black female vocalists’) name is always featured wherever you see this track listed (something not often done these days).  Such a simple yet beautiful track with those memorable chords and her beautiful vocals which really carry the song through. 

How about the fourth?

My next track I’ve chosen is the 10th track on Jill Scott’s infamous “Who is Jill Scott?” album, again, similar to Badu, Scott’s album is in my top 5, and I always find myself reverting back to – specifically – “Honey Molasses” where in her love letters to her lover, she uses such beautiful analogies to describe herself focusing on being a regal brown skin woman e.g. “Honey molasses, Ebony majesty, Chocolate brown sugar, Sweet epiphany”. From “honey molasses” – I take that her suggestion is that she is naturally sweet …

And finally, what is the fifth track that you have selected for our playlist?

My final track is by The Jones Sisters with “Nights Over Egypt”. Funnily enough, they’re also from Detroit, which is a real and true ode to the city and how musically rich it is, was and where most of the music we listen to and love today is rooted there. The Jones Sisters also famously sang the original 1979 “you gonna make me love somebody else” – a track that Maceo Plex more recently remixed in 2012.

Night’s over Egypt is majestic, richly textured, and with such a deep, deep groove with the Jones’ sisters simple yet mesmeric vocals. 

Thanks so much for sharing your tunes with us and allowing us to discover some sick new tracks! Before you go, do you have any final words that you would like to give to any young Black creatives that are looking to get into the industry? 

Remain focused on your purpose, true to yourself and never allow yourself to feel as though you are occupying a space you shouldn’t be, you deserve a seat at the table. 

Brixton Jamm’s Black History Month Mixtape will be updated regularly throughout October – head to our Spotify to give it a listen!

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