It was his first show in two years, and Nickelus F. and a cadre of other local rappers pulled a crowd of over 600 people to fill The Broadberry a few weeks ago, where the local hip hop heavyweight debuted songs off his new album, Stuck. The album had only been out two days, but Richmond’s love for “Sweet Petey” was apparent by the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd. The moment he wanted to create, celebrating the new album was solidified, and it was in that moment one of his fellow performers, turned to him and suggested he do his first ever stage dive stating, “If they’re gonna catch anybody they’re gonna catch you!”
It’s true. Richmond’s love for Nickelus F is deep. He’s been in the hip hop scene for over 15 years, the city loves and respects him for his unique perspective, intentional lyrics, and passion for maintaining that old school hip hop feel throughout his music. And his latest album, which he dropped on May 11, is no exception.
“The process of creating [Stuck] was hip-hop to its core… it started from a crate in Goodwill, old cassette tapes, and sampling off old analog equipment,” Nickelus F said of the project.
The 14-track album, which was produced by Nick himself and mastered by Richmond rapper Michael Millions, follows the raw and emotional journey of the rapper over the past three years as he navigates a place of discontentment. “I felt stuck financially because I was back in school full-time not working,” he said. “I was making some money from music, but it wasn’t enough to sustain my life being like, mortgage, kids, car payments… so financially I felt stuck, and emotionally I felt stuck.”
However, contrary to what the title implies, the album is not about being stuck. It’s about getting out of the situation he’s in and tackling life’s obstacles. “Even though the album is called Stuck, the theme throughout the album is I got up… I look at my struggles as part of the testimony, and it’s just kinda like when I go through something I’m like, ‘’hey I’m just living the testimony, eventually I’m gonna be able to tell this story.’”
It’s this level of honesty and integrity behind his music, that ensured his fans his eighth studio album was going to be worth the wait. “I take my time coming up with this stuff. I drop every couple years… it’s kinda like an ode to the era of music I came up on,” he said. “Nas didn’t drop an album every year, Jay wasn’t dropping an album every year…it would be two or three years between albums.’
And Nickelus F has followed suit with his major musical influences. He dropped his last solo album Triflin, in 2015, and the collab album Stretch Marks with Namebrand in 2016. The last time RVA Mag checked with him was two years ago when he dropped the video for “Laced Weed” off Triflin‘ so its safe to say he likes to take his time with his work.
Nickelus F also attributes the time between tapes to his diligent process of making music. “You gotta take your time making it, don’t rush it, you know? Like if you’re gonna get a turkey, man, if you’re gonna fix the turkey, season it up, clean it, stuff it, let it bake slow, cook it up… I want people to be able to listen to this years from now and still be like, ‘damn that shit was hard.’”
It’s apparent his hard work has paid off with this album once you give it a listen, but be prepared because this is only the beginning of what Nickelus F has to offer us this year. Not only did he drop a new album, but he also graduated from VCU with a degree in Strategic Advertising. He said going back to school was one of the best decisions he ever made and he looks forward to utilizing his new found education to, “make this album everything it needs to be.”
He said his coursework in college has helped make his musical work much better and more powerful. “In the past, I put out good projects, and I’ve had songs that could have been a lot bigger than they were, I didn’t have visuals for them, I didn’t work the overall project the way it should have been, but I just graduated college learning how to do all of that,” he said. “Learning how to brand, learning how to do creative advertising, learning how to use photoshop, learning how to shoot video, work video and do everything.”
That was evident in the dope visuals he dropped for the track “I Ain’t Cried Yet” off Stuck on May 17.
No show dates on the books just yet, but Nickelus F has a lot of tricks up is sleeve so be on the lookout for more work, more music, more tours and hopefully more stage dives from the artist this year.
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond