Still hungry for more, the now 27-year-old has been hitting the gym hard (see: Thank You and Heathen) and was given his just due by 2009’s rap rookie of the year, Drake. With Season Premiere off to the mixing boards, Nickelus F shares his thoughts in this DXnext interview about “renaissance rap,” being considered underrated, and explains why you could have heard him on “Forever” with Lil Wayne, Drake, and Eminem.
Is Nickelus F Underrated?: “I don’t really consider myself underrated. I consider myself not heard enough. I’m just trying to get myself heard. I don’t have that type of chip on my shoulder. I just put it out there and let the music speak for itself. I do appreciate the comment when people say that about me. But times, to me, are different. These new artists these days are more articulate when they come out. We’re more level-headed, I’d say. I feel like in the past, not saying that folks weren’t real, but folks had to play a role. Years ago, I was saying the same thing like everyone else. Folks told me to talk more shit, to be more cocky and whatnot. But while I know what gifts I may have behind the mic, I’m truly a humble person.”
The Emergence Of ‘Renaissance Rap’: “We’re coming into a more refined period of expression. Content-wise we’re progressing. The feel and the approach of the music puts us in a renaissance. I’m happy with the artists that are coming out now. There was that in-between time, where the south had their thing, but at the same time I had Jay-Z, Nas, and Busta Rhymes in the deck. I’m from Richmond, Virginia and we’re right in the middle of it all. But mainstream did kind of venture off into another direction and I feel like right now we’re going back to where it has that feeling in it. I feel like years ago I would have to fit in to stand out, but now it’s about being you. When Diddy and Jay were coming out, they were being themselves, but time’s have changed since then.”
A Blue Collar Trend?: The game is opening up to where we can have a variety right now. You have things to choose from. You had folks who come and give you the raw shit, but then you have the thought provokers. Before us you had your De La Soul and your A Tribe Called Quest… you had variety. We didn’t have variety for awhile. We had got to a point to where someone just worked what worked and jumped on it while it was hot. Now, it’s to the point to where we can have different styles. It fits right in my lane. It’s all I know.”
Did You Know Nickelus F Was On “Forever”…?: “If I had to choose between the two, then I’d go with the one that is out now… most definitely. It’s hotter. I will say that [Lil Wayne‘s] original verse on ‘Forever’ was way crazier than his new verse. Drake’s new verse was hotter than his old verse and I think that I could’ve came harder if I was featured on the final version. If I would have done anything, I would have rewrote my verse to it. I liked that track, but at that time, I knew where my mind-frame was at. Now, I’m in a different space mentally, so I would feel a lot better attacking the beat.”
Inspirations: “I’m inspired by everybody. I’m like a potluck of inspiration. Of course the greats, you know? I can run down the line of the legends. One inspiration I have is Project Pat. I was trying to get Pat on a track. We had four girls in the studio, it was a lot of fun. Didn’t get a chance to work with him, but on the song Drake and I did (‘When We Come Around’), he rapped in that Project Pat style and it just kind of messed with me mentally. Drake inspired me as much as he says I did him. To see how things have worked out for him lets me know that I could do it too. He’s in the same vein as I am; he’s being true to himself. My boy from around the way, J.R. The Great. He’s a monster. When I wes in the tenth grade, I never saw him write anything down, but was the coldest lyricist. He always recorded like that. After I graduated high school, I picked up the same thing. Shout out to J.R. The Great! Other than that, Hip Hop as a whole inspired me. I’ve always been a diggin’ in the crate type of cat. From [Tha Dogg Pound] to C-Bo to Spice 1 to Lord Finesse, I’m a true student of the music and the culture.”
Where To Find You?: “Truthfully, Google me, yo. I got to get my site up. I’m on Twitter (@NickelusF). I’m going to drop a single soon. It’ll be featuring X.V. He’s a cool guy. It’s the only feature on my new CD. It’s called Season Premiere. I’m sending it off for mixing. I want this one to be the one. I put a lot into it. I believe that it’s going to be special. It’s all original music. I have made no attempts at being on the radio, I want the respect first. Whatever track I get on I want to black out. That’s what I want first… the respect. I’ve always been experimental and been good at putting a song together. This project is me displaying my talent for everyone to see.”