Nikmoody Transforms Setbacks and Pain into Conscious Prose

Long Island rapper Nikmoody has been writing his entire life, taking the lemons of life and turning them into more than just lemonade. Case in point: a 1,000-point scorer in both high school and college, Nikmoody transferred his passion for Basketball to the pen after an ACL tear, leading him to a Masters degree in English Literature. 

Drawing on influences such as Kendrick Lamar, Atmosphere and J.Cole, as well as Nirvana, Moody creates a conscious lyricism with soul, amid a blend of grunge and boom-bap hip hop. With the release of “Either Way,” he shows growth in style, adding in trap sounds within his strong lyrical base. Experiences of loss and addiction have helped Moody find his voice, adapting his music as he evolves within hip-hop, which he considers to be the most descriptive art form in the world, when combined with pain and passion.

Moody released his first EP, House of Mirrors, in 2017 and hasn’t slowed down since. He has continued to create music, releasing eight singles, ten music videos and his 2019 EP The Quiet One. Moody has performed at SXSW in Austin, headlined at SOB’s in Manhattan and opened for Wyclef Jean, Dizzy Wright, Raz Simone and KOTA The Friend. 

Nikmoody works with his passion and continues to release singles, including April’s “Hysteria,” which was written with the guise of trying to bring a unified culture to Long Island. While The Quiet Two is planned, Moody notes below in an interview with NYS Music that it may not surface in 2020, as new projects have his attention.

Pete Mason: Recently you posted on Facebook: “I know I haven’t been as active on social media lately. It’s only because I’m locked in. We been experimenting with new sounds, new flows…New music coming very soon.” Inquiring minds want to know – what new sounds and flows do you have coming?

Nikmoody: There’s been a lot of experimenting in the last few months. I wrote that in my post because I’ve been digging into other genres like trap, grunge rock, dubstep. I’ve been trying to find a way to harness the aggression that lies at the heart of my music and display it melodically. It’s been a learning experience but I’m really excited about the direction of the new music.

PM: How has quarantine life been for you on personal and creative levels?

NM: Quarantine has been a rollercoaster. My family got sick early into the lockdown so that was nerve-racking and worrying. But after everyone got healthy, I was still unemployed and stuck in the house. It became a blessing in disguise because it was the first time in my life that I was able to be creative without being in school or having to work full time. It allowed me to broaden my horizons musically and try new things. It also gave me a peak into what life would be like when I turn my music into my full time occupation. That was quite beautiful.

PM: Speaking about sacrifice in an August post, you discuss everyone being on their own journey, closing with “But that is their journey, not mine. I still see 100,000 at Bonnaroo every time I touch the mic.” Is it safe to say that performing at Bonnaroo is a big destination on your own journey?

NM: 1,000%. I’ve been to Bonnaroo twice as a camper (once general admission and once with an RV) and I have to say those were some of the most incredible days of my life. Nothing but music and love in the air. I met a lot of people from all over the world at those shows and to this day, Bonnaroo is the most coveted memory my friends and I have. To play there would be a dream. Chance the Rapper on Saturday night of Bonnaroo 2018 is the greatest show I’ve ever been to. To imagine myself doing the same is fun to think about.

PM: You’re from Brooklyn and Long Island – how did growing up between the two influence your creativity, your love of music, and connection to others?

NM: Well I kind of split time with where I grew up. I lived in Canarsie, Brooklyn until I was 11. Then, my family moved to Merrick, Long Island. Although I didn’t spend my high school days in BK, the attitude that comes with growing up in Brooklyn still sticks with me. It was a drastic difference moving to Long Island. That juxtaposition is vital to me as a person. Coming from a small apartment in a diverse neighborhood and moving to a house in an all white town took a lot of adjusting for me as a kid. I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. I didn’t know how to connect with my classmates in Long Island. I liked rap, basketball and frequented corner stores. They liked pop punk, lacrosse and traded baseball cards.

It took me a while to fit in but I learned a lot in those confusing times. That’s when I really started to write a lot and just observe people. I never really hung out with one group of people, I wasn’t always with the athletes or the stoners or whatever stereotype you can think of. Fast forward to now and that duality is present all over my music. Learning to combine all these influences into one complete thought has been a challenge but when I do, you’ll know when you hear the song who it is because no one else could make it.

PM: How does The Quiet Two differ from past releases, and how does it connect to The Quiet Ones?

NM: Well I’m not sure if The Quiet Two will ever see the light of day if I’m being honest. I will be dropping some of the songs off that project as singles but I’m not sure if it’ll drop as a full entity. I’ve started working on something else that I’m really proud of. It’s early on but the music has evolved a great deal. It differs in the fact that it’s a bit more modern, the sounds we’re using are more in tune with the times but the lyrics and rhyme schemes have stayed in that old school realm of hip hop. I’m still the quiet one that you got to watch haha.

PM: When did you come up with the mantra “I can turn a negative into a positive with just one line – +”?

NM: I write lyrics on paper for the most part and I was just playing around with symbols one day and that line came into existence. I think it really represents what I stand for and my logo in general. While it looks dark and negative, it’s ultimately positive. We’re spreading hope at the end of the day.

Nikmoody now focuses on the one year anniversary of The Quiet One with the upcoming release of his new single “No Pulse.” Due out on Thursday, November 19 as thanks to his supporters for continuing the journey with him. Given the pandemic and artistic responses to increased isolation and time to create, whatever comes from Nikmoody will surely resonate with his audience.