But in that process, Niki found a voice that stood out from the rest. In 2017, she sent an independently produced demo to Sean Miyashiro of 88Rising—a media company and label representing such Asian stars as fellow Indonesian rapper Rich Brian, Chinese rap group Higher Brothers, and Japanese-Australian singer Joji. That demo would become her debut single, “See U Never,” a glistening, nostalgic RnB breakup anthem that put the songstress into the mainstream spotlight. Today, she’s 88Rising’s first and most prominent female face, a fact Niki doesn’t take for granted, especially after receiving hundreds of messages from the young female and Asian fans she’s inspired.
“To my female fans specifically—my Asian female fans—I say, ‘Girl, don’t feel like you need to adhere to conform to any stereotype,’” Niki says. “Sometimes, societal expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies, and you start trying to fit a mold. I get DM’s from people saying ‘I’ve taken piano lessons for 10 years and was super close to abandoning it until I saw you out here doing your thing.’ This is why I do what I do.”