NilexNile is Flowing Strong To The Top

Rising Milwaukee Artist, NilexNile has spent the last few years fleshing out his artistry and grinding to cement his place in the game

For NilexNile aka Marquise Barnes, music has been working it’s way into every nook and cranny of his soul from before he could even understand the full impact his choices would have in opening doors later in life. The rhymes began flowing out of Nile early in his journey through life. When he was in 6th grade, Nile enlisted two of his homies to try their hands at rapping in their school talent show. Call it beginners luck, or whatever you want, but the group placed third overall in the show, and Nile could feel the pull the microphone cord had on him, calling him to come back to the stage. It was a defining accomplishment in young Nile’s life, a light coming from a cracked open door begging to be followed and flung wide open revealing a brilliant light shining into the world. Nile took the confidence from the talent show and began taking the time to sit down to work on his craft. At the time, Nile was attending a Christian school called the Atlas Preparatory Academy, which wouldn’t be relevant except for the fact that when the talent show rolled around the next year Nile and his friends were disqualified after their performance for having a curse word tossed into the bars. Maybe it was the disqualification, maybe it was one of the other biological reasons emerging teenagers get distracted during middle school, but Nile sat on the sidelines in 8th grade.

The transition to high school in the public education system is a defining moment for any kid going through the system. Inevitably, a kid tries to find themselves, usually in a way that ends up causing mental anguish and a landslide of regrets in a decade looking back on it, but it is also be a place where special interests or talents are uncovered planting the seeds for the future. For Nile, his freshman year marked the year when the seeds of hip-hop sprinkled across his mind cracked their husks planting permanent roots. He was delving deeper into the catalogues of up and coming artists, at the time of course, such as Mac Miller and Kendrick Lamar, rounding it out with his mom who would play NWA and older radio songs with some slow jams scattered across there. Nile leapfrogged up the podium in the talent show, going from third to first and catching the eyes and ears of the teachers in his school. Although Nile was taking music classes, he wasn’t focusing on the technical note-reading, he instead felt the vibes and rhythms from the music being created and allowed it to inspire him. A teacher by the name of Mr. Meyer saw the dedication seeping from Nile’s every move as he walked around with a backpack full of lyric-packed notebooks and his mind focused on his future music career. He knew that their school just wasn’t going to be the spot that put Nile is a position to succeed musically, and decided to take Nile aside to push him about thinking of transferring to the Milwaukee Public School of the Arts where he would be properly supported. Of course, moving high schools right after starting can be a daunting perspective, re-establishing oneself even if it is at a place that is designed to make one feel comfortable when stepping inside. Fortunately, Marquise has never been a bitch or one to back down from a challenge, so quickly pushing past those feelings and filling out the forms he needed to. The decision was one that paid off handsomely, propelling Nile out of his comfort zone posted on the couch with anime flickering across the TV while the days passed him by into an environment constantly pushing him. It is impossible to grow through comfort, at least in a mental sense, as true personal growth only occurs by placing oneself into situations where mentally one is forced to consider new worlds outside of theirs. For Nile the decision to head to the School of the Arts was one that saw him leave the comfort of his neighborhood, hop on a bus every day, and be surrounded by kids from all around the city who brought diversity and new experiences into his life. Not only different life experiences, but also the large variety of artistic talents being nurtured. The beauty of an art school is that it also opens the eyes of a kid such as Nile to a world of potential future collaborators who might not be fully aware of their true talents yet and as they come up together, they can push each other into new territories they may have never touched otherwise.

This is where Nile took off musically. It was during his junior year that Nile first stepped onto the stage in a professional context, at the Underground Collective, a creative entertainment venue in downtown Milwaukee. Milwaukee has a tightly knit scene, one that looks out for itself in a way that is driven from being left out of the national network for so long. Nile soon found himself surrounded by artists who have been doing their thing around the city and pushing the sound artistically, dudes like Wave Chapelle, Ishdarr, and Webster X, as well as Milwaukee legends like Sharrod Sloans. These were guys that Nile heard bumping through the homies speakers, the ones who were making waves across the country in national media breaking through for the city, and now for him to be standing on the same stage showed Nile that he was moving in the right direction. It was also a wake-up for him to just how much harder even he needed to work for him to reach his dream heights. That meant moving his recording and production space out of the darkness his moms basement and into the light of the professional music world. 2018 marked the year that Nile decided to buckle into the ride full-time, leaving no stone unturned in his quest for hip-hop greatness. He began experimenting with his methods for creating music, writing verses, freestyling others, bouncing around studios to find a space that fits. The phrase “Time is Money” became a refrain for Nile, as he began writing before he would hit the studio to maximize every second in there. The pre-writing also allowed Nile to live with his records before laying them down, seeing if he finds the relatability he is striving to create comes through the record. Working consistently with two engineers in Milwaukee, SpiceGod and Sharrod Sloanz, Nile focused on bringing a cohesive structure to his sound. It paid off, with Nile releasing three EP’s from the start of 2019 until now, each one adding a new layer to his discography and ringing the bells hanging off his name louder and louder. Hunter, Treason, and Forest of Giant, all showcased Nile’s artistic ability as he incorporated a variety of soundscapes, with the main point of each being to allow Nile’s poetic lyrics play the leading role in walking the listener through his mind. It does make sense then that Nile has been inspired by artists such as Isaiah Rashad, Saba, and Joey Purpp who are all known for delving deep into their own minds and being unapologetically themselves.

Nile is constantly flowing, moving, surging ahead, working on bringing his vision to life. 2021 is sure to be another year of growth for the young artist, as the world opens up and opportunities are sure to be abundant. He already has been able to hop on stage at a Milwaukee Day event, which a yearly celebration of Milwaukee occurring on April 14th, or 4/14, playing off the cities area code of 414. A couple of EP’s are in the works for Nile right now, so make sure to follow Nile on all social media in order to stay up to date on all of his releases and shows, as well as getting into the releases of his over the past couple of years. Nile is without a doubt putting his own stamp on hip-hop and bringing additional light to the artistry being fostered in Milwaukee.

Jake Zinda

24 years old, from Wisconsin Hip-Hop Journalist @CMAG N.S.C.T.D.

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