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New Artist Spotlight: Nico The Beast

by Travis on June 15, 2008

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. I’m a bit behind on these weekly “New Artist Spotlights” posts and for that apologize. I’m always accepting submissions for this piece, but please realize I’m backed up until the end of July for the time being. I’ll probably start doubling up on some of the pieces, like this week. This week, both of our artists come the land of cheese steak sandwiches and Michael Irvin haters (my kind of place), but that’s pretty much where the similarities stop. Let’s hop right into it, I have a lawn chair, a book, a beer all next to the pool (a plastic wading pool, this shit doesn’t pay that much, fools) with my name on it.

Nico The Beast shouldn’t be a stranger to anyone that runs the circuit of blogs out there. Nico (aka Knowledge) is one half of Clean Guns with Zilla Rocca, who makes appearances all over the blogs such as mine, Jeff Weiss, Floodwatch, his own blog (which is GREAT and about time) and many others. Nico’s sound is fairly reminiscent of the Clean Guns sound, but somewhat expanded upon. With Clean Guns and Nico, they have a sound all of their own, which is refreshing in today’s hip hop world. Lots of hard knockin’ beats, guitars laced through out the beats and straight in your face lyrics. They can all be found on Nico’s solo release “No Beast So Fierce”. Beat Garden Enterprises ain’t nuthin’ to fuck wit……

Nico The Beast

Nico’s Myspace

“Many styles. Many styles.”

Nico The Beast
Croskey Street from No Beast So Fierce

Nico The Beast
Feedin’ Time feat 2ew Gunn Ciz, Blessa, Reef The Lost Cauze from No Beast So Fierce

WYDU: First off, the old generic introduction, but we’ll get that out of the
way. Introduce yourself to the fine people and your career of choice….

Nico: The name’s Nico The Beast a.k.a. Knowledge Don. And I’m a problem. I’m gonna grow up and be a bigger problem.

W: Some problems are good. You are a Philly cat, which is very historic town, in more ways than one. Discuss if Philly’s rich hip hop past influences you in anyway when you are making a song, on the mic, or on the stage…

Nico: I wouldn’t say that Philly’s hip-hop past has influenced me, it was rather an environmental influence. Most of the cats I listened to growing up were from N.Y. or other cities, so I didn’t really pull anything from Philly rappers pursay. But I will say that Philly, the city, is most definitely a part of my swagger and bravado when I step on stage or step to a mic. Ya know, the cocky, “Yo cuz, gimme the mic and let me handle that!!” attitude. (Laughs)

W: You and Zilla form Clean Guns, an equally dope duo. How is it working as a solo artist on a solo project compared working within the dynamics of a duo?

Nico: I’ve always said that I am a solo artist first, part of a group second. That’s still the case here, it is just that me and zilla work well together. It’s easy work when you are good at your craft. So whether I am solo or working with someone it shouldn’t sway being dope. Although,
I will say that, when I do work as Clean Guns it is easier because I know that Zilla will come up with dope concepts and hooks, etc. It takes a little bit of the pressure off when you work with someone equally as dope as you are.

W: From some of the stuff I’ve read on you, you seem to be proud of the fact that you are a father and a family man. How do you change from the “Beast” on the mic and in the recording studio to just plain ole Dad at home?

Nico: Well, I love my kids, I love my wife, I love hip-hop. I’m a family oriented dude, so I consider Beat Garden,, Beast Ent., my family. I’m the same way around them as I am on the mic. Real. No punches held, no frills, no bullshit. I’m an angry dude for a lot of valid reasons, so a microphone is my beating post. The only time I turn that off is when I hold my children.

W: Zilla was tellin’ me that your wife made a wicked Baked Ziti and homemade Meatballs, ever think about doing a hip hop cookbook? And what’s the secret to the Meatballs?

Nico: Ummmm, I love food, as most people can tell. And my wife’s cooking is stupendous. Yea, I said stupendous.(Laughs) But as far as a hip hop cookbook. Negative. As for her secret, I can’t tell you that or I would have to kill you.(Laughs)

W: I can live without the recipe then. The album is called “No Beast So Fierce”, can you discuss what went into the album? What can a listener that has n
ever listened to you or a Clean Guns release expect?

Nico: What went into the album? Alot of time, sweat, sleepless nights, drunken apartment binges with Big O falling asleep under a tree. Literally. My heart, my soul, my life, my visions of the world. I mean if you listened to it, you would probably come out of it with a deep understanding of what type of person I am. Most likely you would be able to say, “I fuck wit that dude!” or “He’s a piece of shit.” or “Dude sounds like a good person.” I find myself feeling like if I can’t put a bit of me in everything I do, than I am wasting your’s and my own time. Feel me?

W: In the album bio, you describe the release as “The album is a blend of street and substance, emotion and hardcore lyricism, grit and honesty. Fans of Brother Ali’s “Shadows on the Sun” and The Game’s “Documentary”. That is quite the contrast, explain what you mean by that…

Nico: It is what it is. Brother Ali is every bit a real man, with lyrics that explain that. Shadows on the Sun is a portrayal of Brother Ali. No Beast So Fierce is a portrayal of me. As for the Documentary, it “sounds” like the Documentary, in that, it has production that is deeply rooted with the artist. No beat on my album has you thinking, “Why did he choose this? It doesn’t fit him.” Same with The Game. He had an ear for his beats knowing he would be able to get HIS point across however he deemed fittin.

W: You keep the production pretty much in house and have a great chemistry, is that something you plan on keeping on doing for the foreseeable future, or is there any chance you might have some outside production?

Nico: I have developed great relationships with some amazing producers. Some I have worked with, i.e. Zilla, Alex Wood, Noochman, P-Shaw. And some I haven’t worked with yet. Key word being “yet”. Cats like Distant Starr, Doc Strange, Brizzo, Slim Dsm, Monzster, S Ence, Pecue, Fel Sweetenburg to name a few. I’m really looking forward to building with these cats. Too many dope artists in this city to sleep on em. You’ll see.

W: Discuss just how freakin’ cool it is working with your lifelong friend in Zilla, that’s something a lot of us wish we could do….Do you ever get sick of him? haha

Nico: I don’t consider him my friend, as far as I’m concerned I have three brothers and one sister. One brother ain’t biological, feel me? I mean I knew him since I was 3, we know how to build together. From Lego’s to companies. I mean don’t get me wrong we get on each other’s nerves from time to time, but, that shit don’t sway 22 years. I’m glad we started this thing, and I’m glad it’s with him and Big O. These dudes looked out for me, and continue to look out for me, so I owe them for making me the problem I am today. Real rap.

W: What does the future hold for Nico The Beast and Beat Garden?

Nico: Enjoy the ride!! We ain’t gonna stop, we ain’t ever gonna stop. Period. You ain’t heard of us yet. Soon enough you will. You do shows? We on ya ass!! You do videos? We on ya ass!! You make beats? We on ya ass!! You breathe on Saturday, June 21st and it’s raining out? We on ya ASS!!!!!! There ain’t nothing we won’t do to make this dream of ours a reality. Dig?

W: With a shovel and then some! Thanks for your time and the best of luck….

Nico: No doubt!! I appreciate the support and the look out.

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