If you haven’t heard of NIKO IS yet, you’ve got some listening to do.  
The Brazilian born, Orlando-based, hip-hop artist NIKO IS  doesn’t sound like his contemporaries. The handful of young rappers with tread, most notably Pittburgh’s Mac Miller or the recently album dropping, returned-from-exile prince of lyricism, Joey Bada$$, make music with pomp and bombast, as aggressive as it is catchy. But the kind of music NIKO IS makes hasn’t sounded contemporary since the mid-1990s, or around the time he was born.

“Cherry Beamer dreamin wit my comrades
Happy trees call it acuvue, catch a contact
I’m a poet that has gone mad
I’m always loaded with the potent and a strong bag
Lucky lefty Rosenthal, Country shit, I’m over y’all.”

The emcee just released his debut album, Brutus, courtesy of Talib Kweli’s Javotti Media. This is NIKO’s third body of work, following two mixtapes he released independently with the support of DJ Smallz and Javotti Media. While recording his previous projects, Chill Cosby and Good Blood, NIKO simultaneously worked on Brutus.

You can tell NIKO IS is fully invested in his rhymes. He treats every verse as an opportunity to best whomever you’d been listening to prior, a habit that could have been altogether exhausting for the listener if not for his ability to stay on topic.

Even Talib Kweli says his signee is one of the greatest artists he has ever listened to.

“NIKO IS […] is one of the greatest emcees I’ve ever heard…”

– Talib Kweli

On his Hot 97 interview, NIKO, ever the overachiever, admits he can even rap in Portuguese.  He opened up tells fans he was discovered by Talib Kweli in Orlando, Florida, and then continues on to completely destroy the mic.

Check it out here:

In an age where everyone is “trying” to be different, NIKO isn’t trying at all, he just IS.

Syed Mikhail Hussain is fan of all things NYC and Hip Hop. Winner of the sperm race back in ’89. He does a weekly basketball podcast. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at @swishthis.