Nikki Glaspie, the acclaimed drummer for acts like The Nth Power, The OGs, Maceo Parker, and countless others is striking out on her own with her first project under her own name. Today, Live For Live Music is thrilled to debut the new music video for Nikki’s “Sinister”, featuring guest MC Raydar Ellis.
Well-known as a preeminent drumming talent on a global stage, Nikki has been featured in countless music and drum magazines and is a regular guest drummer on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Equally important, however, is her work as an advisory board member and volunteer at The Harold Robinson Foundation, which helps counter social and economic disparities in South L.A. and builds bridges between diverse student groups through the transformative power of outdoor camps and music experiences.
With her touring schedule ground to a halt during the coronavirus pandemic, Glaspie got to work on a new project, which she has entitled The iPhone Sessions. “Sinister” marks the first official release from The iPhone Sessions, a collection of beats Glaspie made entirely on her phone.
As Nikki explains, “I wanted to find a way to teach kids that they could be creative with their cell phone. Most kids don’t have access to computers or studios, but they do own smartphones. At the foundation, we focus on presenting them with positive outlets to express their anger, depression, sadness, grief or anything they might be going through. These kids are surrounded by violence, drugs, alcohol, abuse and gang activity. We hope to provide positive reinforcement. So I started making beats on my phone to show them it was possible to make music with what you have.”
The first track from The iPhone Sessions—the decorated drummer’s first official release under her own name—features Glaspie’s close friend, DJ/producer/educator Raydar Ellis (Blue Note Records, Esperanza Spalding). The blistering track takes aim at the commander-in-chief and arrives at a crucial point in the timeline of our nation, just days before a consequential presidential election.
In the video for “Sinister”, directed by Sam Radutzky (Abis Productions), Nikki Glaspie and Raydar Ellis take to the streets in Harlem, NY to deliver the scathing song. Raydar kicks off the rumbling hip-hop track with the first verse over Glaspie’s beat, but it’s a fiery verse from Nikki herself that leaves the hairs on the back of your neck standing at attention, ready to rage against the powers that be. It’s not just the right that catches Glaspie’s ire, either—she takes aim at both ends of our nation’s political divide: “This side, that side, I only know one side / The side of the truth, this is where our hope lies,” she raps.
“Red and blue a tough pill to swallow, let alone to taste / Impossible situation presented to the people / Now do your very best to pick the lesser of the evils,” Glaspie continues, highlighting the cracks in our system. This time around, however, that choice is one we all have to make. As Nikki tells Live For Live Music, “I don’t totally agree with either one of them, but clearly we have to choose one or the other. [We] can’t afford to sit this one out.”
Check out the new video for “Sinister” by Nikki Glaspie featuring Raydar Ellis below:
Nikki Glaspie ft. Raydar Ellis – “Sinister” – Official Music Video
[Video: Nikki Glaspie]
Glaspie also recently served as the co-host of Justice Comes Alive, a one-day, virtual festival harnessing the power of music to bring about collective change in response to racial inequality. The donation-based streaming event generated more than $55,000 in funds for the participating artists, who remain out of work as the pandemic continues, as well as a number of social justice-oriented causes via PLUS1 For Black Lives Fund. Watch Nikki’s conversation with bassist Oteil Burbridge from Justice Comes Alive here.