self-released (currently available for free download at nikoismusic.com/releases)
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)
After percolating in the alt-rap fringes with a string of intriguing recordings, this young, Brazilian-born Orlando MC is starting to rise quickly. Besides growing street cred, this is the album that’s looking like his big break. Artistically, Good Blood is easily the most chiseled, distinguished crystallization of his vision and promise yet. Consequentially, it’s the work that finally convinced Talib Kweli to sign the kid (Niko’s next LP, Brutus, will be on Kweli’s label).
Although Niko constantly references non-rap music, Good Blood is woven almost entirely from the sounds of his native Brazil. Produced mostly by local guy Thanks Joey, the merge of sharp beats and cool zephyrs is the musical dais that finally makes the chill agility of Niko’s creative flow pop. Between the ’70s soul of “ONDA,” the bossa nova of “Green Tomato Coupe,” the humid cosmopolitan heat of “Ballon d’Or” and the jungle-funk dope of “Floss,” the joint effect is like a portrait of a big coastal city, throbbing with edge, sophistication and sensual tropical breeze. Bigger than his fro and a clear level up, Good Blood is the sound of an artist hitting major-league stride.