Detroit rapper Nique Love Rhodes
You might’ve heard this 26-year-old's “Rise Up” on the NFL Network during this year’s draft
Published: June 24, 2014
Nique Love Rhodes is a Detroit power woman with a driving rhythm. The 26 year old has rhymes and vocabulary that inspire. You might’ve heard her song “Rise Up” on the NFL channel during this year’s draft. We first heard her at Blowout a few weeks back, and we were blown away.
Metro Times: How did you get into music?
Nique Love Rhodes: I’ve always been creative. I’m an only child, and I didn’t have any brothers or sisters to annoy. I’ve always loved music. My dad was a DJ and did security for the clubs, so growing up I had a lot of music and Motown in the home. My dad played bass guitar, piano, and I later discovered would write songs. My mom was always encouraging me to be active. My dad got caught up in drugs and things like that, so since I was an only child, she gave me a notebook and told me whatever I was thinking to write it down. So I did. Then I got involved at church and started doing poetry at church youth groups.
I was at [Word of Light Christian Center], at a youth rally type thing, and I did a poem, and afterwards, someone came up to me and said you sound like you’re rapping. I said ok, and he said you should try rapping. I didn’t think much more of it, but a buddy of mine gave me a beat CD full of instrumentals, and I started writing my poems and they got longer and longer. I thought I could probably do this.
I’d have to sneak listening to hip-hop, because my mom didn’t like it. So I’d have to sneak with my cousin, and we’d listen to Tupac, Jay-Z. Nas, MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill and I thought I wanna do that.
I started studying songs and I’ve always been fascinated by how songs could bring back memories, so I started studying song structures and I had my first show at age 14 at U-Detroit Mercy, at open mic. I did an original rap and people liked it. And I thought this is great I’m gonna keep doing this.
I just recently went back to the church to perform at this youth program about substance abuse prevention. I still keep in touch with the pastor. He encourages youth to pursue their dreams. That was cool, to go back and perform where I started.
MT: How does that play in to what you do for a living?
NLR: My day job is I’m a case manager in Westland, where I work with teens headed down the wrong path. Some of them have had first time police contact: they got caught at school with pot, or they shoplifted, or they’re not getting along with parents, so instead of sending them into the juvenile justice system, they send them to us, and we do weekly peer group meetings with them, community service projects, different presentations and workshops, field trips and pretty much teach them basic life skills on how to be a productive young person.
It’s called Westland Youth Assistance. And that gives me the motivation to do the type of music that I’m doing. I’m very adamant about making the type of music that’s going to inspire people and put positive messages and energy in to the world. My job definitely keeps me focused on that. I see how much of an impact it has on kids, especially hip-hop. It helps keep me in check to put out the best music that I can, so that they hear it. I want them to get something from it.
The main thing that influences my music is being socially conscious and inspiring people. That’s the crux of my music. Every song is gonna inspire you, or make you think about what’s going on. Those are my two goals. Everything I do—That’s the core. I’m inspired by how music impacts people. Even though he gets a lot of flack in hip-hop, I look at artists like Kanye West. Everyone knows a Kanye West song. I mean Stronger, it’s such an anthem.
Another song that became an anthem was that Pharrell Williams song Happy. They were playing it for cancer patients. That song made people who were depressed feel good. Even If you look at Michael Jackson, the songs that he made, made people feel good.
That’s what I wanna do—make songs that make people feel good. Connect with memories and emotion and things like that.
MT: You bring up Kanye right away…
NLR: Well yeah, I don’t agree with all of his tangents. Sometimes I’m like, ok dude, relax. But when his first album come out, College Dropout in 2004, that album was amazing to me. He was talking about stuff that was going on in Chicago, but also things that I identified with as a young person born and raised in Detroit. He was one of the first rappers I’d heard in a long time talking about something other than gang banging and violence. He was just himself. I said, hey, I don’t have to talk about these typical hip-hop urban things. I can talk about spirituality and I can talk about school and all of these social issues and things that every day people are experiencing. I can talk about my family. He made that cool again, for my generation.
MT: Nice to hear some Kanye props.
NLR: I’m not a Kanye hater. He gives great hip-hop shows performance wise. The production behind that. I aspire to that. One day I wanna be that. I can’t be a hater.
I mean, him as a performance artist. Few hip-hop artists did that. Now, you can do elaborate stage set-ups and make an entertaining production behind the music.
If I had the money I’d be doing the same thing.
MT: You better get that money. Tell me about the NFL thing.
NLR: [Laughs] The NFL thing happened by happenstance, being prepared and being ready. I was at an event raising awareness of sexual abuse and sexual assault, and I ran into a friend of mine who I went to high school with. He saw me perform, and was happy I was still performing. He said he was doing sports journalism out in New Jersey. I didn’t think much of it. Then, two days later at a Lupe Fiasco concert, I ran into him again he asked me for upbeat tracks so I sent them and didn’t hear back. This was in January. And then come March I get and email from the NFL saying they wanna use Rise Up in one of their shows. He emailed me like two days later and said he’d sent my music on to some people, and he wanted to know if I’d heard back, and I was like yeah, NFL network just called me.
> Email Valerie Vande Panne