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ATP! Essential Listening: Niykee Heaton

Niykee Heaton’s debut EP Bad Intentions, which was released in September 2014 and saw immediate success on the iTunes and Billboard charts, demonstrates her extraordinary talent. The 20-year-old from Illinois first rose to fame through YouTube with her acoustic cover of Chief Keef’s “Love Sosa.” She continued to gain popularity with subsequent uploads of several more acoustic rap covers, such as “The Motto” by Drake featuring Lil Wayne, “Bands A Make Her Dance” by Juicy J, and “R.I.P.” by Young Jeezy featuring 2 Chainz.

Although her initial popularity was largely due to her lovely voice and pleasant looks (she recently passed one million followers on Instagram), Bad Intentions showed a completely new aspect of her talent. Along with a knack for songwriting that is impressive for her age, she has a fantastic ability to set the mood for a song with her voice. There is a unifying vibe in the production of the EP, but Heaton is able to make each song unique by vocally communicating emotions.

The title track “Bad Intentions” has become her most popular, and for good reason. Arguably her strongest lyrical song, it tells a story about frustration with love and desire for a lustful relationship. “Rolling Stone” is the quintessence of her vocal communication. She sings, “Love me even though I’m a mother***ing rolling stone,” with hints of pain, confusion, and yearning. “Sober” is powerfully eerie, and is another demonstration of her vocal range. “Leave every bottle as empty as my promises” is made even more powerful the way she sings it.

Heaton’s R&B tendencies combined with her affection for hip-hop give her a unique sound. Although she has room to grow with her songwriting (which you can expect to happen very soon), her vocal talent ultimately makes her music extremely enjoyable. It may not be time to tattoo her lyrics on your body just yet, but it’s certainly time to roll down your windows and scream them at passing cars.

Words by Matthew Smith

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