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Breaking Sound NYC at Berlin Under A with Retrograded, T.Shan, Ser Kokayi, and nikmoody

On January 19, I headed back to the East Village to check out another performance featuring Retrograded, with additionals in the lineup including T.Shan, Ser Kokayi, and nikmoody. The show, hosted at Berlin Under A, was curated by Breaking Sound NYC, a group that specializes in featuring New York City’s emerging artists in limited occupancy venues selected specifically for their ability to foster a connection between artists and live music junkies. Essentially, this show promised an up-close and personal interaction with a host of fantastic artists, and it did not disappoint.


Retrograded opened the show, performing a few of his upbeat, poppy songs like “Slice” and “Hi I Miss You” that have an infectiously good vibe – just like the artist himself. I’m not sure any song, however, can top “Spaceship Boy”, a sweet, yet lyrically loaded ballad about growing up played on the ukulele. His soon-to-be-released EP, “Think of Me” was also played. The creativity in this EP is obvious. For one, the track “Stars” at the midpoint of the EP is set to a 3/4 time signature, indicative of a waltz, rather than the classic 4/4 time signature used in most modern popular music. Be sure to keep an eye out for “Think of Me” which is set to drop in February! From the start of Retrogradeds’ performance to the end, an energy developed throughout the crowd, which continued to flow in to fill the venue. In fact, by the end of his set, even over the mic Retrograded was barely louder than a bustling audience. And the energy certainly didn’t slow down from there.


Rapper and singer T. Shan serenaded the crowd by introducing himself with a back track (and, I have to say, that should definitely be a more common practice, because it worked). His superb singing and writing abilities have created a discography of multidimensional hip-hop and R&B influenced jams, such as his most popular song on Spotify, “Pheromone” as well as his latest release, “Blossom”. His fantastic, engaging presence on stage almost makes me wonder how this is T. Shan’s first live gig back since the pandemic began. T. Shan ended his set with a new single dropping on February 9th, “Coast”. He wrote the song as a rebuttal to NIKI’s “La La Lost You”, a song about a break-up ending with her ex moving across the country from Los Angeles to New York. In her song, NIKI makes a few remarks against the big apple that didn’t sit right with T. Shan, who used his track to emphasize New York’s greatness.

Ser Kokayi

Ser Kokayi is not only a stellar performer, he is also the founder of OnEarth Records. The label by artists, for artists dabbles in management of artists from several genres such as upbeat lo-fi, indie, R&B, soul, pop, and more. The convergence of genres isn’t just part of his label’s identity, as Ser Kokayi himself isn’t bound to any one style of music either. During his performance, the crowd couldn’t help but dance along to “TAKE V”, an energetic track featuring braggadocio style rap. Catchy, melodic flows are commonplace in every song for this artist, including a couple of his slower tracks, “2Percent” and “addicted” which were also performed. From upbeat club raps, to freestyles, and chill, laid-back R&B tracks, this artist has just embarked upon a career that I cannot imagine will be anything other than successful.

nikmoody + Leigh

The final artist in the line-up was nikmoody, a sensational hip-hop storyteller with a masterful clutch on lyricism. The tonal strength expressed in nikmoody’s raps initially stunned me, and I was further impressed by his annunciation abilities with lyrics that are akin to poetry and delivery pertinent to that of a Rap God. By this point in the show, the audience was in full-fledged pandemonium, erupting with enthusiasm as nikmoody went through his discography including “In The Family”, “MAD!?”, “What They All Say”, and a spoken word piece that was not set to any music. Also taking to the stage during his performance was Leigh, an artist who’s lofty voice perfectly synced with the bars performed by nikmoody who immersed himself within the crowd. To close his set, the artist explained the meaning behind his moniker – feeling the feels, unapologetically. He advised a captivated audience to follow their dreams, stay motivated, and feel the way they feel. No more hiding what society has previously categorized as “bad”, not in nikmoody’s book. Nikmoody has an album release scheduled in May, and I cannot wait to see what kind of new music this uber-talented artist has been working on!

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