Argentine rapper, Nicki Nicole (born Nicole Denise Cucco), is a sensation, a creative dynamo and a success story. The 20-year-old artist boasts handfuls of tracks with millions upon millions of streams on YouTube alone. She is brash, stylish and snarling. She’s magnetic. As a result, Nicole has a bright future ahead of her fueled both by her obsessive passion for song and by her legions of fans that propel her to do more.
We caught up with Nicole, who speaks Spanish fluently but does not speak much English, to ask her about her relationship to music, hip-hop and what fans can next expect from her on the heels of the recent release of her hit, “No Toque Mi Naik,” which features the Puerto Rican vocalist, Lunay. Below are Nicole’s answers, given to us through a translator.
American Songwriter: When did you first find music—when did music enter your world in a significant way as a young person?
Nicki Nicole: Music has always been a part of my life. I was always fascinated by it, constantly learning from it, and I always took it very personally in whichever context I was in. But I began writing songs around 2015 or 2016. That was when it started to first become a hobby—That’s when songwriting became normal for me and all I wanted at the end of the day was to get home from school and sit down to write. I feel that music has always been a huge part of my life and it will continue to always be.
AS: How has Argentina—the sights, sounds, music, culture—influenced you as a person and as an artist in your early years?
NN: I think our culture always influences our music unconsciously. I never sit down to write a song thinking, ‘Alright, I must include my culture.’ It’s something that comes naturally; it’s embedded in my roots. It comes out in absolutely everything I do. The way I talk and make music is completely Argentinian, because it’s what comes organically from within me. I think that the place where you come from and where you are raised will stick with you forever as part of your identity.
AS: How did you find hip-hop and what made you want to devote yourself to it? How did you develop your voice and flow, as a rapper?
NN: I discovered hip-hop when I was super-young. I began listening to American hip-hop in English, and then, with time, I discovered Spanish hip-hop. Eventually I started making friends in the scene and I would listen to their rap, hip-hop, protest rap and, little by little, I began to form my own identity and style based on all these different influences.
AS: What were some of your early career turning points—important collaborations, releases, experiences, feedback?
NN: I think that the first and most important step was the day I sat down and decided to write a song I would put out. The first song I released as a solo artist was ‘Wapo Traketero.’ Without a doubt, that song literally took me to where I am today. There have been many other things in my career that obviously contributed to who I am and to how far I’ve come, but that first song was definitely what changed everything for me.
AS: Did you feel particularly confident in releasing your first singles—did it feel odd, natural at the time?
NN: I am never 100% sure of the music I release. I am very detail-oriented when it comes to releasing songs and I feel like there’s always more to do. I am sure that if I didn’t have people telling me when they think a song or master is finished and ready to be put out, I would never release anything because I would spend my whole life trying to make it better.
AS: You’ve grown to be a very popular artist. What is it like to have so many views, streams, fans? Is it daunting, inspiring, both?
NN: I love it. It is truly inspiring and motivating for me and my work. It’s like a wheel that never stops turning. The fans are the only ones who can decide when to stop it. So as long as it keeps turning I am very happy.
AS: Your new single with Lunay—how did this start, what was your favorite part of the collaboration?
NN: The idea for this song started in Miami when I was working with the Honey Boos. As soon as I finished the song I realized that undoubtedly Lunay had to be a part of it. Luckily, he was super down to participate, recorded his part, and it turned out even better than we expected. My favorite part of this collaboration is the entire song.
AS: Does this song signify a new full-length release—if so, what can you say about that?
NN: ‘No Toque Mi Naik’ is part of my next album. Just like ‘Verte,’ it’s another small fragment of what’s to come. I like putting out these songs because they are very different from the rest of the album, and that’s something that inspires me and that I think the fans really enjoy.
AS: When you think of the future of your music, career, your life or the world, what comes to your mind?
NN: When I think of my future and my musical career, I look forward to continuing on this path of constantly growing and learning. I really enjoy learning from others, knowing when to listen to other’s advice and feedback, and allowing myself to fail so that I can learn and grow as an artist. I think that if I continue with this mentality I can continue to evolve as an artist.
AS: What do you love most about music?
NN: What I love most about music is the process of creating it. That it allows me not only to express myself as a person and artist, but also gives me the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world. It gives me the opportunity to connect in other ways, despite the different languages and cultures.
Photos by Jessica Praznik