Premiere: Virginia Rapper NKO Delivers an Ode to ’90s Hip Hop with “Buggy Buggy”


It all started with an old VHS tape.

Seeing a video of his idol Jay-Z perform at the legendary Apollo Theater was a defining moment for Richmond born emcee NKO (pronounced Nee-Ko.) He was just five years old at the time, but even at a young age, NKO knew that music was what he wanted to pursue. The rapper has been hard at work recording an as-yet-untitled project, and today he shares a new single called “Buggy Buggy.”

NKO toyed with the idea of naming the track “The Ode” because it is, as he described to DCMD, an ode to ’90s hip hop. He opens the number in a more contemporary fashion by covering the chorus of Glass Animals’ 2014 song “Gooey.” But as the chorus ends, the listener is taken into a mostly a cappella rap backed by subtle percussion for a few measures, after which some electronic instrumentals build in and the percussive beats become more apparent. The overall effect, in terms of instrumentation, is rather simplistic. But that simplicity is what helps make the individual riffs, note patterns, and beats memorable.

Lyrically speaking, “Buggy Buggy” is a stream-of-conscious flow of all the things – health, politics, environment, individual untapped potential – that concern NKO. “I’m in awe with all that this planet has kept/’cuz if we’re fucking up the host/I hope she doesn’t snuff us out just yet,” he raps in the first verse. “Hustlin’ is more than selling dope in the hopes of getting gold fronts.” It creates a depth and awareness of the everyday issues around us, and it does so in a way that makes the listener think about their own impact on the future.

NKO’s goal is to make his listeners think, but also to inspire them to keep going. “Keep your head high. That’s the feeling and the energy I want to evoke,” he mentioned about his new song. Mission accomplished.