Atlanta MC Money Makin Nique on his forthcoming album.
Standing out as a rapper in Atlanta is no small feat. Planted in the deep south of the U.S., the city already harbours a solid score in hip hop history, as younger generations continue to push its creative boundaries to unforetold levels. The South’s bass-heavy, synth beats loop endlessly on the radio, all while emotionally-charged spitters like Future, Young Thug and even Migos champion the charts. The region’s signature trap sound is traceable beyond Georgia’s state lines, as producers and rappers from both sides of the coastline pick on the sub-genre’s foundations and spin them on their own terms. Truth be told, ATL’s sound has never been more ubiquitous.
Money Makin Nique, however, doesn’t pander to Atlanta’s hyped momentum. Instead of looking for a place to fit in among the crowd, the 26-year-old MC, hailing from the city’s west side, aims to outshine it by focusing on the street tales that nobody is talking about. “A lot of the time people come to Atlanta wanting that club shit you can dance and swag on. But when you look at the scene, who can you really say is a well-known lyricist? There hasn’t really been a lyricist since maybe Tip, Young Jeezy or Ludacris. OutKast [are] from a whole different generation. I’m aiming to be at the forefront of the new age and showing people that I’m coming from all those guys.”
Nique is chilling at one of his teammates’ cribs in Atlanta as we chat over FaceTime. It’s a late September afternoon and he’s gorging on a box of take-out noodles, explaining: “This is my first meal of the day, I’ve been running around like crazy lately.” As he describes the apartment, which he reveals has a built-in studio – one of the very few in ATL – he displays the jazzed-up energy he finds important to fuel his creativity. “I might just come over and play some video games or talk with the team. It doesn’t always have to be necessarily about music, but that vibe encourages creativity and that is very necessary.”
From a young age, Nique found himself in the sort of environment he sought inspiration from, as he grew up in a household where rap music was not only pervasive but also held a pivotal status in his family’s life course. As a teenager, his mother embraced rapping during hip hop’s early days and eventually found herself dealing with a sought-after label contract. Though the deal never happened, later these steps triggered Nique’s conscious forays over rhymes and beats. “I’ve been writing rhymes since I was eight years old and I can’t even make that up. I had a notepad where I’d scribble rhymes and then rehearsed and rapped over beats. It was legit. But the decisive moment when I knew I wanted to do this for life was around 14. I was going to concerts that young and I would see the crowd getting crazy when somebody came on stage and I’d think, ‘man, that’s love, I want that’. There’s no feeling like rapping and having an entire room knowing the words, line-for-line. It’s almost like a high.”
Nique’s body of work has established him as one of Atlanta’s emerging street rappers. Efforts such as his brilliantly raw 2013 debut album ‘Guyana Gold’ or 2014’s hazy EP crafted with Johnny Cinco, ‘The Extra’, garnered Nique some deserved notoriety for his lyrical prowess, but also his soulful beat selection and braggadocios rhythms. Likewise, his upcoming album, ‘Bring Money Witchu’, is set to become an unhindered reflection of Nique’s blistery experiences in ATL’s underprivileged district. Moreover, he says it will elevate his mind-set to a new degree, explaining: “A year ago somebody told me that I don’t get personal when I rap, that I’m just proving that I can rap and he wants to hear what’s on my mind. So, that’s exactly what I’m doing with this new project; I got more personal, telling people what’s going on.”
This is an extract from Issue 7, The Barely Legal Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.
Photos by Johnny Healthy
Words by Ricardo Miguel Vieira