N.I.C.E. Is Not Your Average Emcee

By Andre’ Haynes

Las Vegas Informer

Hip hop music generates billions of dollars annually in profits for rappers, labels, distributors, retailers and anyone else that can profit from this precious commodity. The music genre that was once considered a fad has become a sub culture and has influenced generations since the 70’s. Fans remember when hip hop music was positive and emcees danced to a different beat like Run D-M-C, Salt-n-Pepa, Whodini, Queen Latifah, KRS One, MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane and so on. In the 90’s hip hop was out-staged and gangster rap emerged as the undisputed champion of music on the air waves and music charts. Gangster rap pushed the envelope so far that some records were banned in the U.S.A and other countries. Rap lyrics were more vulgar, more violent, and more degrading towards women. The music videos painted a vivid picture that some say was a true portrait of life in the ghettos and poor communities that so many people ignored and refused to acknowledge. Many rappers claim that their music was a glimpse into their lives and circumstances. Politicians, churches, and community leaders protested and boycotted against rappers and gangster rap music. For a while the entire world was in an uproar about gangster rap music. Unfortunately the violence promoted through gangster rap music escalated and some rappers lost their lives including 2Pac, Notorious BIG, Big L and others. It took quite a while for conservatives to realize that gangster rap is not a reflection of all rappers or hip hop music. There is some positive, catchy, and clever hip hop music available on the mainstream market. All hip hop artist or rappers do not cuss and they do not glorify violence. One hip hop trailblazer whom stands out in the crowd because he raises the bar and is super talented is Emcee N.I.C.E. He has recorded numerous albums, can be heard on movie soundtracks, can be seen on TMZ, and has worked with some of the best artist that the business has to offer. Recently Emcee N.I.C.E. talked to the Las Vegas Informer about his career and new hit single and music video.

How has your Puerto Rican heritage influenced your music?

My heritage influences my music from a more substance based angle than a musicality standpoint, although the musicality of my heritage helps me understand music as a whole.

For instance in referencing substance, I didn’t grow up with the hustle mentality that was something I had to learn later. I grew up understanding how important it was to be “Together” and to “Love” and to “Work Hard” for what you want while having fun doing it and that’s what you will hear and feel in my music with a splash here and there of some authentic “Bomba, Plena” and or some even “Reggaeton”.

Describe the origin and meaning of N.I.C.E.

The meaning of N.I.C.E. is real simple, “Novelist Is Constantly Evolving”. The one thing that I have always been taught was to adjust & adapt and in order to that, you have to be willing to evolve because the world changes every day. In most industry circles I am known as “Novelist” because of my ability to translate life through pen and pad, whether it’s through songs, poetry, book writing and or movies.

Was producing, writing, and performing music your first career choice?

Producing, writing, and performing in the beginning was a hobby until I got good at it, but my focus had been on football and writing books. Growing up I was always known as the writer in class, that guy that if you needed a cool story and or concept, I was the one. In fact it was my teacher that started calling me “Young Novelist” and it stuck with me.

If you had to select a career other than music what would it be?

Other than music? It would be an Author and or Director; I have a pretty good imagination. I can vividly write the story in detail and pull it together visually.

In your past what phone call or e-mail or meeting or situation confirmed your potential or success?

When I met Papa De’Jon and DJ Fat Jack that brought together the Mass Men coalition with founder Minister 2 Bad, both De’Jon and Fat Jack had incredible musical knowledge. De’Jon in his earlier years was conga player and part of the Young Hearts while DJ Fat Jack at this time was a Hot rising producer who had been working in conjunction with DJ Slip who had the Platinum group CMW aka Compton’s Most Wanted.

At that time I had migrated from El Paso, Texas to Topeka, Kansas on to California. Although in Topeka I was one of the best hands down that transition to California was different animal. On every block was 100 rappers and out of that 100, 25 of them could be superstars.

So the confirmation came for me when the L.A. underground accepted me and from there I adjusted my charismatic aggressive style and bloomed.

What did you learn from being a member of Mass Men and KansasCali that helped shape your music today?

With the Mass Men it was “Respect for Family”. For instance, we were on our way to a major showcase that could potentially put the whole crew on and some members of the main group “Mass Ministry” got into a car accident. Me being hungry, once the accident was cleaned up, I was like, “Okay let’s go do the show” but everyone else out of respect didn’t want to. At the time I didn’t understand it as I do now. The mentality of The Mass Men was that “We are 1” and I was thinking about trying to get on and get out. That was a pivotal moment for me in regards to my mental preparation and approach to the music industry.

With KansasCali it was the “ability to re-invent”.  We started off as an R&B Hip-Hop group out of Las Vegas ripping every club to rip. At the time R Kelly & Jay Z came out doing the same exact thing we were doing with the exception they were a collabo, we were an actual group. We at that time had done records with K-Ci of Jodeci, Aaron Hall, MC Lyte and more but the more shows we did people starting comparing us to R Kelly & Jay when at that time we wanted to be known for us so we “re-invented” ourselves. That reinvention took us to a more musical style swaying more towards the rock with an urban flare, so we invented “Urban Rock” a combination of Hip Hop, R&B and Rock. We were to soulful with the melodies and beats to be just rock and the urban side of it allowed us to be and do whatever we wanted as long as it had an infusion of rock in it and we were successful at it. So going through the process of reinvention and the Mass Men has helped shaped my music.

Who are some iconic artists that you have produced and written music for? Who is your favorite and why?

2 Pac, Nas, K-Ci, Aaron Hall, Diamonique, these records were more collaborative and not records I have done by myself, I was a co-producer on a few projects and collaboration on the others in which we were featured on.

For the 2 Pac record the record company had the production based in the middle of nowhere in a city called Modesto, California where everything 2 Pac was brought in through armed security every day and removed every night. They monitored and controlled everything, something like 10 or more songs were done on Pac and only one made the album, “Thugz Mansion” the acoustic version featuring Nas.

The Aaron Hall situation was at time tense and at times hella funny, dude could be real cool and other times he was to himself. We were actually supposed to be a part of his super crew that he was putting together that included Producer Mike Smooth and Mark “MDoc” Williams but that fell through although we were featured on his record, producing 2 others.

The favorite would have to be K-Ci, you are talking about the most down to earth dude that you could meet, approachable, and funny as hell. You sit and look at him like how does that voice come from him because he’s a small guy, but when he gets behind the microphone and that music buzz, Maaaaaaaan!! The magic begins.

Name a few soundtracks where your music can be found. What is your favorite song and why?

Okay ummm… “Crash”, that won the Oscar, Mr. & Mrs. Smith International Version, Haven, Kickin’ It Old School, ESPN’s Once In A Lifetime and a few more.. My favorite has to be the song “If I…” from the Crash soundtrack because it was the hardest to do and at the time we were transitioning into a different sound and I was unsure it was going to work, but it did and the music video landed on the “Special Features” of the DVD that sold over 10 Million units.

Is there a different mind state or skill set that you have when writing and producing music for others instead of yourself?

Yeah there is actually and that’s all about what made them who they are musically and if it worked, how can you keep those elements without confusing the consumer who gets fixated on a certain sound? If it didn’t work, how can you make their music relevant without making them sound too old, or to young. It’s about understanding the “Current” trends of their genre and not trying to re-invent the wheel.

What inspired the song and music video for “Life of The Party”?

“Life of The Party” was a concept devised to bring fun back into music, no disrespect to other artist but there is a large facet of people that just want music that they don’t have to buy clean versions to. It was interesting watch a few award shows this year and half way through someone song the TV goes silent because of explicit content. So my goal was to create music that was fun and feel good, records that you could put on no matter who’s around. So for “Life of The Party” I wanted to shine the spotlight on the natural, those that are fashionable along with the thick and beautiful. To many times beauty is relegated to those with a big butt and or super breast to the point where you have people modifying themselves to compete or feel like they belong. So for me I am like, “I appreciate the YOU, YOU ARE!”. “Life of The Party” is having the confidence to walk in any room and shut it down! No matter what you look like or where you are from. So that is what inspired the song. I hooked up with rising star Blake Smith, we connected with Stacey Dash and here we are.

The video was a concept by Choreographer Jose Torres (Janet Jackson, America’s Best Dance Crew) who thought it would be cool to do a theme based video that didn’t include bikinis, clubs, cars and V.I.P. Anyone that knows me, I am down for a little different as long as it doesn’t stray too far away from my character. So the video was just pretty much about, no matter what era and or walk of life you are from, you can be the “Life of The Party”

Watch “Life of The Party” by clicking the image below.

What prompted your decision to feature Blake Smith and Stacey Dash on “Life of The Party”?

For me being a rapper is not enough in today’s music, you have the Young Money camp, The Maybach Music camp all with melodic and catchy records that are buzzing the charts. So if you are not paying attention to that, then you don’t need to be in the music business. Too many artists get caught up in the “I’m A Do Me” talk and wonder why they can’t get no love on their records. The tough part is yes, “you have to do you but implement them” look at Kirko Bangz “Drink in My Cup”, he did him but implemented them. So for “Life of The Party” I did me but needed that element that the others were pulling from. My business partner and best friend D.B.I. reminded me about Blake who I had known for about 5 years so reached out to him, we hooked up with producer “Kelly Keys” and created a Radio / BBQ version of the song, but radio was like if you want it on, it needs to be slower or do a dance version. So I reached out to famed producer Ralph “Phantom” Stacy (Producer: Dru Hill, Mario, K-Ci & JoJo, Houston, Charlie Wilson, etc…) and he created a R&B Hip Hop Dubstep version of it. In the song I mention Stacey Dash’s name and thought it would be cool to have her in the video. Well it just so happen that Blake Smith knew her by way of his Aunt Gina, so I asked him to ask her if she would be in the video. He then played it for his Aunt who took it to Stacey to listen to and the answer returned was that she loved it and would love to sing on it… my whole body paused not from the mere fact that she would be in the video, but to sing on the record when no one has ever heard her sing, so I took a leap of faith and agreed and here we are today.

You’ve accomplished so much in your music career. What’s next?

For me my career is just beginning, I am Co-Starring in an Urban Family Animated Music Series entitled Da Jammies created by me and my partner Dolla aka D.B.I., the series also stars Darius McCrary, Alisa Reyes, Tiny Lister, James Avery, Kyla Pratt, Lil JJ, Dorien Wilson, Kim Whitley, Kurtis Blow, YoYo and more… I plan to write & direct both movies and books

Describe a day in your life when you’re not on tour or walking the red carpet or doing interviews or producing and writing music for stars?

When I am not doing music or on the road, I am honing my script writing skills, putting together my poetry book and series of romance novels.

If you could work with any deceased person in the music industry who would it be and why?

Good question, if I could, I would love to do a collabo it would be Tupac and I am going to shock you with this one… Guru of Gangstarr. Pac had that aggressive gritty-ness to him that was prophetic and poetic, I believe we would do a great song or two. Guru was like that change of pace point guard that came in and took the game over, a true lyricist that had rhyme schemes that was clever.

Describe a memorable moment during a recording session in the studio.

There are so many memorable moments anytime a song goes from thought to action to record and then listening to that final playback is a crazy feeling. You hear things that you didn’t imagine the song could do. I guess a moment that stands out is when we were in the studio with Aaron Hall, everyone was kind of joking around having fun, Aaron was in the booth recording, the vibe was relaxed and then Aaron came out of the booth serious as hell about how he didn’t want all the joking that he was there to work and gave this lecture on if you are coming into the industry this is the mentality you have to have, so for the rest of the session everyone was quiet. The next day we all came in and everybody was quiet while getting the record done, Aaron Hall was in the booth came out to listen to the playback and got animated by saying “Man it’s too quiet in here, ya’ll gotta make some noise or something” we all looked at each other like “Didn’t this dude say he didn’t want no talking in his session the day before”? When we took a break we all laughed about it.

If you could remix any song, in any genre, and by any artist or group, what would it be and why?

It would either be “Give Me a Reason to Love You” by Portishead or “Pirate Bones” by Natasha Bedingfield. The Portishead song already has a hip-hop kind of swag to it, I would speed it up a few BPM’s and throw some subs under it to complement the strings, some hip hop drums and go hard in the paint. The “Pirate Bones” song is just “Perfect” I would just want to get on a remix.

What are some songs on your favorite playlist that fans would not expect to be there?

Portishead – Give Me a Reason to Love You

Natasha Beddingfield – Pirate Bones

Laura Izabor – From My Heart to Yours & Shine

Hamilton Park –  Thing Called Us

Nelly Furtado – Whoa, Nelly! (album)

Abstract Tribe Unique – Mood Pieces (album)

Jose Mangual – BUYU

That’s just a few…

Where do you see hip hop culture in 5 years?

Hip Hop is in an interesting transition right now, the era of clicks has come in and saturated the markets to the point where the consumer is being tied up to the point where every other song that come on the radio is the same person on a song with a person that played just before them and it continues to cycle. But you can see artistry coming into play with artist like Kendrick Lamar & Azealia Banks.

As the digital age become even more so the main focus for consumers source of entertainment, that will ultimately be where the consumer finds authentic hip hop music with internet radio stations playing what the people want because in order for the culture to survive there has to be a balance of New York, Atl, Miami, Houston well the Mid-West period along with the West that’s allowed to be showcased on radio.

 Describe your legacy to hip hop music?

When I am finished I want my legacy to reflect perseverance, the inspiration to others to be if they work hard enough, long enough, and stay diligent, they’ll notice. I’ve done 12 records in the last 6 years that includes an Oscar Winning Film and a couple of Blockbuster movies, Platinum & Gold Records. Most would love to be in this position, I am just getting started. Eventually you will hear about the “Mangual School of Performing Arts”, where there my legacy will continue on.

Do you have any advice for aspiring producers, writers, and rappers?

Yeap, learn how to self-promote and stay socially engaged because that will help keep you relevant. Remember that you ought to surround yourself with a bunch of people that know what they’re doing, hold yourself accountable for your success!

Any shout outs or last comments?

Yeah, Stop the Hazing and Stop the Bullying! “Instead of Hating be focused on Educating, so that the next generation, don’t have to follow trends and instead be trendsetters”

Be on the lookout for my EP Emcee N.I.C.E. – Way Back Now (The Prequel) coming November 2012

With that said, I wanna shout out my crew and Team Emcee N.I.C.E., My Moms, Gypsy City Music, Chani Gray, Frank DeRozan, Kelly Key’s, Dan “Deezy” Naim, Ralph “Phantom” Stacy, Blake Smith, Stacey Dash, David “D-Connects” Malone, Papa De’Jon, Mom Jan & DJ Fat Jack, Dolla aka D.B.I., Jzhamael of Kebulon Entertainment, The Mass Men, Richard Kurshner, Indie Film Factory, Kelly, J.P. and Gang, My family, My sisters, My Bros., just everybody I love, Endeavor Media Group, IndiePower.com and all those who participated and helped me with this record, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, inc. and those that stand on the square appreciate ya!

Purchase “Life of The Party” by Emcee N.I.C.E. featuring Blake Smith and Stacey Dash on I Tunes. Follow Emcee N.I.C.E. on his Official Website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Emcee N.I.C.E. is represented by Endeavor Media Group, a Sports & Entertainment PR firm. For bookings and media interviews write the PR department.

About Andre’ Haynes

Andre’ Haynes, an acclaimed entertainment mogul, is Founder and Principal of Endeavor Media Group, a Sports & Entertainment PR firm. Since the 90′s his career has transitioned from artist development to national concert promoter to major record company executive. In the concert industry he has worked with such prodigious talents as Aaron Neville, Brooks & Dunn, Clint Black, Destiny’s Child, and Too Short. In the record industry, Andre’ has worked with Persona Records helping several songs earn placement on the Billboard Top 100 Albums and Top 100 Singles charts, and also helped Next Era Music secure major distribution with Fontana/Universal. He has won awards, sits on panels, speaks at conferences, is a contributing writer of The Las Vegas Informer and has judged beauty pageants. Currently Andre’ serves as the Marketing & Communication Co-Chairmen for the Community Leadership Board of the American Diabetes Association.

Read additional articles written by Andre’ Haynes in the Las Vegas Informer. If you would like Andre’ Haynes to cover your event or interview you than write an email. Follow Endeavor Media Group on its Official Website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

 

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4 Responses to N.I.C.E. Is Not Your Average Emcee

  1. Been seeing this guy popping up lately, some people were talking about the record with he and Stacey Dash not being good. I disagree, I loved it and think it’s a hit, plus he’s Hot and Rican too!!! Emcee N.I.C.E. you’ve got new fan!

  2. Emcee NICE is one to watch for the future. He’s a true Emcee who write’s lyrical content that has depth and emotion, plus he’s versatile. The music industry needs his talent right now, I’m looking forward to when he drops his album, it’s gonna be a huge!

  3. Pingback: NICE Is Not Your Average Emcee | Carpet Cleaning Deals Super Tips

  4. Why am I just now hearing about this guy? Long article, but a great one, it made me go to soundcloud and listen to his music. I didn’t care for the Stacey Dash record (FYI: you don’t disrespect our President) but the rest of his music is AMAZING!! This is what should be on the radio right now!! I love his sound, I will be checking for the lil Latino Brotha, this is music we all should get behind.

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