Five Minutes with Niko B: The zany rapper on his debut album, ‘Dog Eat Dog Food World’

HUNGER catches up with the artist to get the low-down on his newly released project.
  • WriterChris Saunders
  • Photography George Muncey

When Niko B first burst onto the scene in 2019 with his tongue-in-cheek, meme-heavy raps referencing Mary Berry and his love for Slazengers, you probably didn’t expect that, one day, he’d be going bar for bar with the UK’s most popular lyricists. But that’s exactly what happened last year when the Milton Keynes rhymer found himself rapping in Victory Lap’s cramped Peckham studio in front of Dave and Central Cee, who were teasing their Split Decision EP at the time. 

Niko’s success shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. His humorous, self-deprecating, and surreal bars are gift-wrapped for a generation of young TikTok-addicted Brits looking for a musician who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Whether it’s his lyrical breakdown of Love Island (which was reposted by Drake, no less), rhymes about making £2 profit on Bitcoin, or buying a trampoline for his room after getting a bit of dosh, Niko’s lyrical content knows no boundaries.

After a slew of singles, viral clips, and even his own clothing brand, the 23-year-old finally decided to reveal his debut album, Dog Eat Dog Food World, released on May 24th. The artist’s signature humorous takes on the world around him remain, but musically and emotionally, Niko embarks on untouched territory. ‘ur a bundle of joy !’ flaunts a refreshingly funky, flowing bass, while the humorous storytelling in ‘it’s not litter if you bin it’ maintains his entertaining narrative style but with a cleaner, more confident delivery. Closing out the project is the ethereal ‘who’s in designer’, which sees Niko try his hand at singing, displaying surprisingly honeyed vocals among chopped-up vox pop news clips. It’s a coming-of-age project for Niko, who manages to produce a DIY record (all but one of the 12 tracks feature beats he found on YouTube) riddled with nostalgia, documenting the highs and lows of growing up as a Brit in the modern era.

Here, HUNGER sits down with Niko to discuss the intricacies of his debut album, his love for fish finger sandwiches, and making something out of nothing.

Congrats on the release of Dog Eat Dog Food World. Have you had time to soak in the reactions at all?

No, not yet. I feel like I’m still in rollout mode!

This is your debut album. Did that add any pressure for you?

No, it made it easier because I was really clear with what I wanted to put out. I knew what the plan was. I had tunnel vision.

How long had you been working on the project overall?

Probably around 2-3 years of trial and error. I made two albums before this and deleted them. I’ve just been learning from those and then creating this. But the recording process was around maybe two months of just recording songs in my room, picking the final 12, and making it cohesive.

How did you approach this project differently from all of your previous songs?

I’ve never released a project before, I’ve only done singles. So instead of promoting one song and one sound, I’m promoting 12 songs and multiple music videos — it’s a package. There are lots of different aspects to it, which makes it so much more fun than just doing a song. I’ve been building a world, and every tiny thing matters a lot.

The album is sonically diverse, and you’re even singing at some points — would you say it was difficult stepping out of your comfort zone, or was it something that came naturally to you?

It was something that came naturally, I think. I don’t know if I have a comfort zone. If I had a comfort zone, then the whole album would sound the exact same, and they would also be songs that I don’t like. That’s what makes the album so good, I think. I’m really not trying to be comfortable.

You’ve got Kwollem producing on ‘miniclip’, but a lot of the production is handled by fairly unknown producers. What was the thinking behind doing that as opposed to going with more established names?

Every song on the album apart from ‘miniclip’ was produced by beats that I found on YouTube — just scouring YouTube. I feel like, to me, because the way I came into music was just me making stuff in my bedroom, l know there’s so much talent out there already. There’s kids on YouTube just making beats and putting them on the internet. It means way more to them to get that opportunity, and it means way more to me to work with them rather than a big mainstream producer. It wouldn’t mean as much for those bigger producers, because they get those opportunities every day.

What do you hope people will take away from the project?

To kind of just do whatever they want, I think. Not fine-tune things too much. Sometimes the first idea is the best idea, and they should just run with it.

How do you feel about the current UK rap scene in comparison to when you were growing up? Do you feel it’s in a good place at the moment?

Yeah, I think it’s in an amazing place. There’s so much talent, and I feel with the UK underground-ish sound, everyone is friends, and everyone knows each other — it’s just one big friend group. Everyone really supports each other, which is cool. I think everyone recognizes how much excitement and talent there is right now, whether you’re a fan or an artist.

You’ve always come across as an extremely positive person. What’s one thing that frustrates you?

I’m awful at explaining things, and I think sometimes I get a bit frustrated at that.

Your music is always filled with very specific British references—what’s the thing you love most about the UK, and the thing you dislike the most?

The thing I love the most is making something out of nothing. Like, where I grew up there weren’t loads of attractions and stuff — it was just fields, benches and sometimes house parties. So it was a lot of just having loads of fun with just a bench and a patch of grass. The thing I hate the most is the price of butter.

What’s your go-to British snack?

Fish finger sandwich. It’s not really a snack, but I could snack on it easily instead of dinner.

What was the last song that made you tear up?

‘No Type’ by Rae Sremmurd.

What song are you playing first to get a party started?

‘Bangarang’ by Skrillex.

Who would you pick to play you in a biopic?

Jacob Elordi.

Finally, what do you think is the biggest misconception people have about Niko B?

How quick I am at answering the door.