Let's hear it for the girl: At the age of 14, a precocious Hicks began calling into "The Cypher," an MC battle show on 106.5 The Beat. Eventually she was allowed to flex her rap muscles against the other MCs, all of whom were older and male. Each week Hicks beat her competition, becoming the reigning Cypher champion of the Richmond/D.C. area. "I've never battled a female," she says. "I think I'm judged differently from other female artists. Most people tell me, 'You rap better than most male artists in the industry now.'"
Keeping it real: "The Preliminaries" came out July 26 on local label X Records. Hicks says keeping her lyrics clean for the record wasn't hard. "My songs are about violence and struggle; those are the two basic things. But it's still positive. I can get my point across without killing anybody." Now that her first album has dropped, Hicks is already looking ahead to other goals, she says: "I see myself in movies. I see myself producing. I see myself doing a lot of things. Way more things than I do now. Every year I'm gonna move up another level." Kate Bredimus
Lil Nikki performs at the Back-To-School Jam at the Civic Center in Petersburg Aug. 26 and at Fairfield Commons, 4869 Nine Mile Road, Aug. 27.
Letters to the editor may be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org