88Rising's Niki gets ready for the day with "Warpaint"

Every morning, we wake up - bleary-eyed and groggy - and slowly steel ourselves for the day. We talk ourselves up, getting ready to deal with bosses, crowds, the commute, while somehow simultaneously preserving and protecting our tender humanity. This ritual gets compondoudedly complex for women, who have to deal with unwanted attention and opinions on their Earthly vessel every time they step out the front door.

It gets even more difficult to protect your heart during and following a breakup, when your feeling raw and ragged. It's super important to take care of yourself, to look and feel your best, to not let the world know what a mess you really are (even when that's all you want to do.)

"Warpaint," by rising Indonesian singer/songwriter Niki explores this daily struggle with a mellow, cavernous beat and an explosive, joyful chorus. Things kick off with a lazy, swaying beach-like indie guitar tag and a shuffling, funky beat. The languor doesn't last long, however, with a truly glorious chorus that'll get lodged in your hippocampus. 80s synths give an atmospheric dream-pop soft focus to "Warpaint," hinting at the heartbreak lurking behind the steely exterior. Of course, all of it serves as a tasty setting for Niki's jeweled vocals, indebted to soul classics like Aaliyah or Destiny's Child as well as modern reinventors like Lorde.



The elements truly add up to express "Warpaint"'s heart and soul. This is partly in thanks of songwriter/producer Bram Inscore, of our sister company Brill Building. Inscore's written for artists ranging from Beck to Twin Shadow to avant-r&b revisionists like Moses Sumney. All are well-represented on "Warpaint," with a bit of that neon sheen of Twin Shadow but with the razor-sharp r&b chops of Moses Sumney. It's one of the most effective hip-hop/indie hybrids We Are: The Guard have heard this season.

Niki is the latest addition to the rising tastemakers 88rising, a creative agency out of NYC. While 88rising are primarily a media/video company, focusing on content creation. The label and artist management is just part of what they do, with the goal of helping to break Asian artists to a wider audience. 88rising are on the rise, with Yaeji and Skee Mask The Slump God on their roster. With talents like these, it's not hard to imagine 88rising's label activities taking over their day jobs. It's harder to imagine that it hasn't happened already!

Let's add to the rising tide of 88rising's insane output of quality music and art. They deserve to be a household name. As does "Warpaint" and Niki.


8️ July

A post shared by 88rising (@88rising) on Jun 30, 2018 at 9:38pm PDT


J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.