The voice of young France, Niska’s tunes boom from cars and shisha bars, and he’s worked with Skepta and Diplo. So why do the US rappers at Paris fashion week bypass his suburb?
Niska is running late from his soundcheck in Brixton, south London. I am expecting the 25-year-old French-Congolese rapper to be slightly the worse for wear: while I wait at his hotel in west London, I see from his Instagram story that he was partying the previous night with his countryman, Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, at a club in central London.
But when he arrives there is no sign of a hangover. Instead, he is polite and charismatic, occasionally peppering his French with English. Niska, who is from Evry, a suburb 25km from Paris, has established himself as a superstar in France with three solo albums under his belt, and he has already started work on a fourth. His last album, Commando, went diamond there, selling more than half a million copies, and he has more than a billion views on YouTube. His infectious take on trap dominated the airwaves in France last summer, and constantly blasted from cars, shisha bars and clubs in the French capital.
Dressed in his own brand of tracksuit, Charo, and Jordans, Niska is assiduously on trend: in the music video for the track WLG, shot on an estate in the suburbs of Paris, he sports metallic jackets, mixes neon lime with black, and wears a tricolour Gucci polo shirt with gold gloves.