If there were a search for a true emcee in the Bluff City, people wouldn’t have to look any further than 23-year-old Hip-Hop head, Nick “Knowledge Nick” Hicks.
The University of Memphis graduate and Towers Watson analyst has been dabbling with words since his mid-teens.
“Writing songs started off as something to do for fun, but as time progressed it became my form of relief,” Hicks said. “When nothing is there and nobody is there, music is there for me to release my innermost feelings.”
A hobby during his teen years has blossomed into a second career. Hicks has two albums under his belt, The Enlightenment and The Transcribed Sentiment, which he estimates have collectively moved more than 1,000 units.
He’s currently prepping for the release of his third album, “Memphis: The Soul of Hip Hop,” on December 8th. Along with his previous work, his latest project can be purchased on knowledgenick.bandcamp.com.
“The new album is like an ode to Memphis and all the influences from my upbringing,” he said. “This album broadened my track selection horizon. With my first two, it was more or less like I could only listen to them in a certain setting, which is cool. But I think with this album, it’ll reach so many different people and you can listen to it in different settings — when you’re riding, at home, whatever.”
Hicks released a four-song EP in September to provide fans with an appetizer while they wait for the full course this December.
On the EP’s opening track, “Livin’ the Broke Life,” Hicks finds himself expressing the hardships that come with pursuing a rap career while low on funds. At the end of each verse, he states, “Even though I live the broke life, I’m blessed regardless,” which conveys his dedication to stay driven despite any obstacles. Boonie Mayfield produced the track.
With the second song, “The Karma,” Hicks provides listeners with an earful on his failure to grasp the true meaning of love during his younger years.
He spits honest, heartfelt lyrics about seeking women primarily for physical satisfaction but over time developing a different appreciation for them. Over a mellow beat laced by Fathom 9, Hicks cites utilizing God’s unconditional love to help eradicate the old habit and enjoy growth.
The third track, “Reign Supreme II,” featuring Toby York, would make hip-hop legends such as KRS-One (Hicks’ favorite emcee) and the Wu-Tang Clan proud with the stellar lyrical deliveries provided on it. The song is produced by Arze Kareem and boasts an East Coast-oriented feel.
The EP’s final song, “Flexxin No Plexxin’,” featuring Sincere and A-Quest, finds Hicks and company showcasing their lyrical prowess once again. The smooth, bass-ridden track provided by Mark G is a great addition to the trio’s witty lyrics, which don’t disappoint.
Hicks’ music possesses a sound that’s different than the typical Memphis rap artist. He has the ability to cater to the raw and gritty hip-hop heads, along with those who prefer a more laidback and mellow delivery.
He credits his diverse delivery to growing up on a wide variety of artists that include Playa Fly, Three 6 Mafia, Gangsta Blac, KRS-One, EPMD and Gang Starr.
Although he’s chosen to take a musical lane that might not be every Memphis rap fan’s cup of tea, he’s not worried about this limiting his success.
“I think Memphis has to really embrace the fact that there are a crop of artists who are different, who are just changing. It’s not the same monotony of stuff just being infiltrated over and over and over again. I think change is good from time to time,” he said.
Follow him on Twitter: @kdotnick