Asian Canadian hip-hop artist Nilo Blues single track "Akira Harakiri" is available to stream on Soundcloud. (Photo courtesy of Alimzhan Alan Sabir)
Mission Viejo High School

Hip-hop artist Nilo Blues captures cyberpunk energy on ‘Akira Harakiri’

Most artists start small, but Nilo Blues isn’t most artists. The 20-year-old Toronto-based singer, rapper, and producer’s initial releases are packed with more passion than some artists’ entire discographies, even though he’s still learning to expand the boundaries of his chosen mediums. 

Take his latest song “Akira Harakiri” for instance. Blues’ flow begins as a melodic hybrid between singing and rapping where each line trails off into falsetto, then increases to a rapid-fire, staccato pace. Drenched in reverb, his voice glides over the supercharged trap instrumental, backed with fervent ad-libs.

“When I make music, I can often visualize the videos and performances while I’m developing the concepts. I love building worlds and personas within my music, I want every song to landmark places and times within peoples’ lives. I think building those worlds becomes natural, because you can feel the movement and have a strong sense of recognizing the energy of the music,” Blues said in an email.

Today’s rap scene is littered with anime references, but Blues takes the trend to a new level. The track’s energy and title are inspired by the film “Akira” and other anime series Blues consumed throughout his childhood. 

The film’s cyberpunk style fuels the futuristic sounds and aggressive hi-hats layered throughout the song. This level of enthusiasm cannot be faked. Blues’ gusto and influences in Asian media create an interesting addition to the saturated trap genre. 

His first release is even more fiery. The music video for “No Risk Involved” depicts how Western media exploits certain aspects of Asian culture while leaving others in the dust, leading to resentment from Blues’ and plenty of other Asian artists. 

“I think success as an Asian artist means having the platform to share your work and being able to dictate the narrative behind you and your culture. The world has heard our stories, but I feel it’s time that we have a chance at actually telling them,” Blues said in an email.

These songs’ goals are lofty, but their creation came naturally.

I was running on a seven day session schedule with Colin Munroe, where I started to solidify the foundation of my sound. The first day I got in the studio, Colin asked me to try and rap right off the bat. That was the spark,” he said over email.

“Akira Harakiri” and “No Risk Involved” are a sensational teaser of what Blues’ career has in store. His creative pursuits began Toronto’s art scene with dance and have since led him to music production, and, most recently, vocals. This development has allowed the artist to approach his music from a unique standpoint. 

With only two officially released songs, Nilo Blues is focused on building a quality catalogue of music to share with his audience. He’s constantly gaining confidence in his creative vision, sharpening his production skills, and fine-tuning his voice. “Akira Harakiri” is now available for streaming, and fans can expect a debut EP later this year.