On his song "hYena," Miami's Nik SB raps: "All my bitches do drugs and I love 'em for that/Especially when she pop two of her sex appeals/Or Ms. Sims' first name for the extra thrills/I know her brother praying that she change/But what he expect when she watched him sell 36 ounces just to put some jewelry around his neck."
Drugs, lust, and greed mixed with regret ... That's the deep, dark vibe that pervades most of the Pro Club rapper's ambitious eight-track mixtape, Reparations
Crossfade caught up with the Pro Club rapper to speak about Reparations, his role models and idols, and keeping a rifle next to his Bible, all via Skype.
Why Skype? Because gas prices are still too damn high.
Crossfade: Your mixtape Reparations is a very heavy dose of reality, especially for a new act to present in just eight tracks.
Nik SB: Basically, the new situation right now, me and my homeboys refer to it as the ADHD era, where people just want to hear what you got to say in a short amount of time. So basically, we tried to wrap up my whole life up until this point in eight tracks. It's 30 minutes, but it's 30 minutes of the reality of my life. I go by the motto, "I rap what I live, I don't live what I rap." So whatever you hear, you can definitely believe it. And me and Nuri had worked on this project for maybe three years. I went through a whole process of some legal troubles to having to be away from my family and my homeboys for a little minute. So you hear all that in the tracks.
Listeners may automatically look to the tracks that featured B.Way, Vurn, and Robb Bank$. But the one that stands out to me is "Idols."
That's Nuri's favorite track. That song right there, it was like, I mean, we went through this whole situation not planning anything. None of the tracks were titled until the very end of the process. "Idols," man, I just remember I'd always come to Nuri's crib, you know what I'm saying, on 95, I'm like, "Yo, I gotta think of a hook." And the situation that my family was in, just paying homage to my whole family tree. All those people you hear like Tuwan Johnson, Robert Johnson, Kenneth Johnson, Milton Johnson. Those are all my family members.
What I got from that song is that you realized who in your life is worth being idolized. When did you stop idolizing those who lived the street life in favor of idolizing your family?
I guess for me it kind of goes one in the same, because all my family members were tied to the streets. All the females in my family pretty much made it, but all the males, all my mom's brothers and shit, they were just tied to the streets. Brainwashed by the system kind of situation. I feel like it goes hand-in-hand. I pay homage to them because of all the stuff they did in the streets that is frowned upon but they didn't do it for no reason. Everybody who hustle, everybody who do they thing be it school, music, the streets, they doing it because they got a bigger picture at the end of the road. They doing it for they're family. That's how I feel about me. my uncles did it for my family. Not because they had money and they chose to do it because they thought it was cool. It's 'cause they had no other options. My people came up dirt ass poor.
My mom murked it. My mom had a jit when she was 15, and now she got a black card. I'm just saying, though. And she's a black woman who had a jit at 15, and where ever she grew up, the 60s or 70s, whatever it was, you don't bounce from that. She was a stereotype. She murked it. Big ass crib. Put me through school. Paid for my fuckin' lawyer situation. Everything.
What lessons do you take away from your female family members as opposed to the male?
My biggest role model is my mom and my aunt because out of the situation they were in, and having their brothers and sisters being tied down to the craziness, the streets, getting caught up in life and everything like that, and to prevail, I feel like my role models are my aunts, which are the female figures, but my idols are the male figures. You understand what I'm saying? I strive to be like the females in my life, but my idols is basically why I got in the situation. I just feel like it was bound to happen. It's in my bloodline. There was no way I was ever going to not go to jail. As a jit I always thought about that, "I'm going to go to jail." It's fucked up, but it's just because of that situation.
I don't do the music for my mom or nothing that. I do this music because of my cousin, when he get out of jail, he doing a 15 years sentence on him, he straight. That's who I do it for. And for my home team, Pro Club Ent.
In the future I would believe you may want children, and when that time comes if you were to have a son what can you tell him to not have that mentality of feeling like he is going to jail and instead break the cycle?
At the end of the day it's, "Do as I say, not as I do." just learn from the situations I've been in at the end of the day. I feel like when that point comes when I have a jit, son, daughter, anything, I want them to look at my situation and all the shit that I've done, how messed up that it was or how good that it was, and be able to balance their life according to that. I don't want to make the same mistakes as this because he's stuck at this situation because of that.
You can't help the mistakes you made, but you can try to better it. I definitely won't want no kids to be like, "Oh, I'm trying do exactly what Nik is doing everyday because that's what he rapping about." Naw, I want them to be like, "I'm trying to stay away from that because it sounds like he definitely went through a crazy situation. So it's not like I'm glorifying it at all. Just trying to put in perspective.
Explain the "that's why I keep my rifle next to my Bible" line in "Idols."
Basically, how I told you I got into some legal trouble, and one of my family members who was - the song is basically about the family - and I remember being in Tallahassee and being in my room and waking up and that was the situation. That's not a made up line. I didn't just pop that shit up out of my head because it rhymed. I rap what I live. I don't live what I rap. At the end of the day it wasn't, "Oh, that sounds like a cool line. Let me rap about that." No. This is exactly what was going down.
You can believe this artist. I don't care how I look in the street. I don't care how I look when you see me at my shows. You can think I'm crazy. Know the stuff I'm talking about. You can believe this artist. That's it. Everybody wants to believe their artist. You don't want to be sitting in your car and being lied to.
What's the great injustice you've encountered?
When you think somebody is really your homeboy and they're not. Like a co-defendant or a homie you think is down for the cause, got your back. At the end of the day it's not the case. I don't want get on here and seem like I'm a street nigga and gangsta like that. I'm just letting you know the situations I've been through. My greatest injustice is seeing my cousin being in the situation he's in basically because of me. I feel like I'm greatly at fault for that. That's why I do it for him.
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What would be sufficient reparations for you?
Forty acres and a mule, man. Real talk. I mean, that's just it. Don't promise me something you aint going to give me, man. You know, reparations is 40 acres and a mule, we going to give you what you're worth for the slave work. At the end of the day just give me my worth, man. Reparations, I kind of take that to the heart.
Follow Lee Castro on Twitter @LeeMCastro