It’s fair to say 2021 was the year of Nia Archives. After releasing her first single ‘Sober Feels’ in 2020, her reign as one of the most exciting jungle producers has only gained acknowledgement.
In 2022, Nia Archives offers us Forbidden Feelingz her latest EP. The first song on her EP, entitled: ‘Ode 2 Maya Angelou’, emphasises why Nia Archives should not only be appreciated as a musician but as a conscious creator of sound. While Nia Archives brings futuristic and millennial jungle into the mainstream her old school jungle and breakbeats demonstrate Nia Archives’ strong heritage and understanding of music, culture, and art.
‘Ode 2 Maya Angelou’, weaves Nia Archives syrupy vocals between the mantras of Maya Angelou’s 1978 poem ‘Still I Rise’.
Maya Angelou was an American poet and activist during the Civil Rights movement, Angelou continues to gain praise and appreciation contemporarily as her words pioneer art that reflects a search for personal identity. It seems fitting that Nia Archives should pay homage to influences like Maya Angelou following her work with the EQ50 initiative. The EQ50 mentorship scheme aims to help women in music progress in an industry notorious for patriarchal power paradigms. Nia Archives' appreciation of other female creatives demonstrates she is a grounded and educated producer, building on, and forwarding the work of other artists.
‘Ode 2 Maya Angelo’ achieves a blend between Roni size-esque drum and bass beats with neo-soul vocals. It’s difficult to listen without hearing Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, or Jill Scott's feels of 90s hip-hop and R&B. It’s clear that the multifaceted appreciation Nia Archives gathers when creating music proceeds her output which rejects any specific genre.
The spoken words of Maya Angelou create a new dimension to Nia Archives music, as she mixes poetry and literature with modern dance music. Her avant-garde fusions are what give her tracks such an electric, modern, cyber sound, yet her carefully planted roots in old school garage and jungle create a paradox founded on nostalgia.
Having been born in Bradford and growing up in Manchester Nia Archives' Caribbean culture transcends her music. She recalls listening to jungle, dancehall, reggae, rocksteady, disco, rave groove, soul, and funk on her Nana’s Soundsystem. She recounts experiences with music at house parties at university which naturally led to her creating beats. It is exciting to witness the rise of Nia Archives while she is still so young and fresh because her music seems to promise the best is yet to come.
Love it or hate it, TikTok as a platform has aided artists like Nia Archives gain recognition. TikTok has allowed young, creative individuals an outlet to practice their passions freely and has broken the traditional industry barriers to entry. This is important as the music industry must learn to adapt and understand talent in different formats and from diverse spheres – it is a positive and opportunistic thing. Young creatives can gain immediate success and attention through social media apps. The likes of Willow Kayne who signed with Sony in 2021 at the age of 19, or Yaz another 19-year-old erupting in the music scene with her viral track ‘Mr Valentine’, exhibit the power of social media and its effects on the music industry. Pink Pantheress is another female artist on top form now, producing some huge collaborations with the likes of Mura Masa, Shygirl and Lil Uzi Vert on ‘bbycakes’. Some have drawn parallels between Nia Archives’ music and that of Pink Pantheress and the above. While these women are riding waves of popularity right now it’s important not to homogenise their music as women experimenting with drum and bass and electronica.