Nichelle “Nikki D” Strong, the first female rapper signed to Def Jam, spoke on her time at the iconic label, the reason behind her departure, and more in a newly-published interview with Vlad TV.
According to Nikki D, she had a successful run with her first album, Daddy’s Little Girl, working with the likes of the Bomb Squad, but hit a financial roadblock when it concerned the release of her sophomore project.
The former rapper revealed that at the time, Lyor Cohen wouldn’t sign off on her financial demands, which included a few extra thousand dollars for a music video.
“When I signed with Def Jam there was still—There was a couple of female rappers out, but there wasn’t many doing much,” Nikki D said when asked why she only released one album. “When I signed I guess it was a big deal. It’s Def Jam…What happened was I signed. I got the first album. Then the Bomb Squad, Public Enemy’s producing team, same people who did AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted for Cube, did the whole album. We did it in maybe like four or five months. The first album was dope, but the second one, we did. We recorded a whole sophomore album, everything. Flex was snatching songs off of it, playing on Hot 97…Lyor Cohen, check writer, was not happy with my demands, which weren’t diva demands at the time. It’s just things I wanted to do because they didn’t really know what to do with a female rapper back then. And I had my own idea of what I wanted to do…He kept fighting me on this small amount of money.”
Nikki D revealed that she ultimately asked Russell Simmons, who also signed her, to release her from Def Jam. From there she says she had an unsuccessful stint at Queen Latifah’s Flava Unit Management and then went over to the executive side of music.
“Long story short, I didn’t get to do what I wanted to do,” she said. “I signed on to some new management, Flava Unit Management. That would be Queen Latifah and the team. I signed on with them and for some strange reason absolutely nothing happened that was promised to me…At that point I was like ‘I need to transition. I need to know what’s going on on the other side and I need to continue to make money.’ And I knew the money was really on the executive side.”