NIK:11 exerts her dominance over the techno world with her single “4Play,” a thought-provoking interpretation of electronica and deep house music that is quickly becoming one of the most talked about songs of 2018. Critics and disciples of electronic music have already known for some time now that NIK:11 was on the verge of the breakthrough of this caliber, but at last with “4Play” her sound finally matures into its own and becomes completely distinctive from everyone else in her scene, generation and hometown of Detroit, Michigan. I had a chance to preview this track ahead of its release, and while I certainly expected to like what I heard, I had no idea just what kind of treasure I was really in for.
About five years ago there were a lot of critics, even within the electronica community, that felt like this genre of music was dying down creatively and socially compared to where it was at the end of the 1990s. Whatever happened to those critics and their foolish opinions I have no idea, but history has been steadily proving them wrong leading up to and in the midst of “4Play” and its widespread success. Even the most anti-techno among us just aren’t able to argue that this music is a non-factor anymore; it’s literally everywhere around us.
One thing that the harsher critics of electronica have been right about is the increasingly lazy behaviors of DJ’s both in the United States and in Europe. Fusing together a bunch of really stirring samples is all well and fun, but to do what NIK:11 does with her originally crafted music takes a much more advanced skillset than any of them have displayed recently. NIK:11 doesn’t just blend interesting sounds together, she evolves the textures of each one of her tones to suit her own identity, which is bold, brazen and far more daring than anything her contemporaries are trying.
NIK:11 is a really great example of what it means to be a true blue collar musician. She doesn’t copy anyone else’s formula, and she’s not looking to ride in the wake of another’s success. Her story is fascinating all by itself without the accentuation of embellishment, and even though she’s had plenty of opportunities, her music never follows anyone’s path but her own. In a world full of actors and imitators, she’s the real article partly because she chooses to be and partly because her rebellious recording style won’t allow her not to be.
I’d actually really love to see her collaborate with some artists of other genres – particularly rock and hip-hop – and see what kind of impact her creative style could have on other scenes and musicians. With her talent, versatility sort of comes standard with the package. NIK:11 isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and “4Play” solidly cements her as one of the most important artists to watch entering the 2020s. If this single is a teaser for an upcoming full-length album, don’t be surprised if this isn’t the last positive review I write about this charming new face in pop.