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Emcee N.I.C.E. Joins Dream Flights International’s Advisory Board

March 29, 2024

Read the full interview on AllHipHop.com!

Former member of A Lighter Side of Brown, Emcee N.I.C.E., a pioneering Hip-Hop recording artist, has achieved another groundbreaking milestone as he takes on the role of vice chancellor at Harvest Christian University’s Compton/Los Angeles Extension Campus.

Emcee N.I.C.E., as he’s widely known, has long been recognized for his trailblazing efforts in music, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Beginning his illustrious career with the aforementioned Latin rap group, Emcee N.I.C.E. broke barriers and opened doors for Latin music on the Billboard charts. His moniker, which stands for “Novelist is Constantly Evolving,” reflects his relentless pursuit of growth and evolution in all his endeavors.

With numerous platinum-selling records to his name and contributions to iconic albums such as 2Pac’s Better Dayz, Emcee N.I.C.E. left his mark on the music industry. His talents extend beyond music, with notable achievements in film, television and literature.

In recognition of his remarkable contributions, Emcee N.I.C.E. (real name Dr. Aulsondro Hamilton) has received prestigious honors, including resolutions from Senator Cesar Blanco of Texas and Mayor Eric Adams of New York. President Joe Biden also bestowed upon him the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award, acknowledging his exceptional creativity and philanthropy.

In a recent interview with AllHipHop, Emcee N.I.C.E. discussed his journey into gospel music, groundbreaking work on the first Black animated series on Netflix and plans for the future, including a new festival in Los Angeles. His unwavering dedication to his craft and his commitment to empowering communities continue to inspire and uplift audiences worldwide.

AllHipHop: You went from rapping to doing Christian music. What was the switch?

N.I.C.E.: [Laughs] There was no switch, just a change in subject matter, the transition happened in 2017. Prior to that, A Lighter Shade of Brown had already put out a Greatest Hits album with me on it. Then I went on to co-produce 2Pac and Nas’s song called “Thugz Mansion.” Did eight motion picture soundtracks, became associated with an Oscar for the movie Crash, was on the DVD and soundtrack. Another notable was Mr. & Mrs. Smith (International Soundtrack). As I transitioned in 2017, I had a different calling on my life. God came in and I followed, even though I was elevating. I had done a record with an actress named Stacey Dash cosigned by Russell Simmons. My career was on the verge, when her comments on Obama happened, it stopped momentum, then Black Twitter happened and everybody thought it was her record, but it was actually mine. I stepped back, then came back eight months later and hit the Billboard charts with a single called “Tonight” (featuring Suhana Machete) that spent 13 weeks on the Hot Singles sales chart, and that’s when God said, “I need you over in Christian rap, your roots.”

 

 

AllHipHop: Was there a certain incident or did something happen that made you switch?

N.I.C.E.: No. I started in faith-based Hip-Hop. The church at the time wasn’t receptive and I ended up doing secular music for 20+ years. No incident, but my life itself is its own situation. Over the past 20 years, I’ve lost family members. I lost my mother two years ago and countless others. I’m here for a reason, fulfilling my  purpose. For me, it’s a matter of staying the course. In the midst of every storm, I was making history. Especially with the Netflix animated series coming out, then my book. When I came into Christian Hip-Hop in 2017, I had five #1 records on the Billboard charts, including #1 gospel album as an independent artist for my album Praise. Nobody was doing that I then became one of seven Christian Hip-Hop artists to ever do it. I was able to utilize what I learned in the ’90s when it came to marketing and promoting. Back then, we had street teams, now they have digital street teams, so I combined the analog thinking with digital evolution. I’m in the faith based Hip-Hop world, the question going in was, how do I help move a genre that doesn’t have the notoriety it should? I was a VP over at Headstart Music Group, which was on Universal then Warner Bros. There, I learned how the industry truly works. I learned how marketing works and how to move units. So my thing was, how do I level the playing field? We normally break artists at the record companies through college tours and college radio, and I was like believers buy records.

So I showed up at different universities that were faith-based. I wasn’t on Twitter like, “Yo, I’m at Liberty University!” Nah, I walked up to some of the popular sections like, “Hey, what’s up? I’m Emcee N.I.C.E. and I want to bless you with a song.” I didn’t ask them for anything. I gave them something and in return, they then reciprocated by spreading the word and buying the music. That’s how I was able to sell units.

Normally back in the day, people used to run up and shout, “Please listen to my demo!” Back then, the CDs would cost you 90 cents to $1. Here, I’m giving you a download with a code, data capturing to later service the album with little to no overhead. I still had them CDs though for the old school heads. So now, I gave you my record. I got the data and at the same time, I didn’t lose money. I was able to run it up. Once I did that, I caught a lot of attention from industry executives that weren’t happy. “Who’s this dude coming in, using our system?” Who they didn’t know and wasn’t getting their share.

AllHipHop: Talk about starting the first African-American animated  music series formerly on Netflix.

N.I.C.E.: It’s called Da Jammies, it came out on August 31, 2015. My birthday to be exact, so that made it even more monumental for me. Right now, It’s on the Kartoon Channel on Amazon Prime and Hulu now. I’m one of the creators. It stars myself, Darius McCrary, Kel Mitchell, Alisa Reyes, Kurtis Blow, William Chapman II, Anderson Johnson Jr., Yo-Yo, Buddy Lewis, Dorien Wilson, James Avery and Tiny Lister. Both Avery and Lister recorded this before they both passed away. We wanted a cartoon that reflected our culture in the modern day time. In fact, I had to teach Tiny how to rap the parts for the rap battle in the episode called “3:10” It was an epic battle too. It’s our Hip-Hop spin inspired by Three O’Clock High, are you familiar with that movie? On a last note, Da Jammies was the first animated cartoon to have an original mixtape released by AllHipHop and Datpiff.

 

 

AllHipHop: I’m not.

N.I.C.E.: Three O’Clock High was this movie where this nerd gets himself in trouble with the new bully, who challenges him to fight on the grounds of their high school at 3 p.m. Translation, “Yo, at three o’clock, I’m going to beat you down!” The dudes in school the whole time watching the clock, trying to figure out, “How do I get out of school?” So we turn that into a comedy called 3:10. The whole day, I’m trying to figure out how am I gonna get out of school from having to fight Deebo? In the end we battle rapped to settle the issue.

How was that? 

N.I.C.E.: It was fire! Because I come from LA rap, even though I was raised in El Paso, Texas. I was born in Los Angeles. If you’re familiar with a docu-movie called This Is The Life, Produced an d dDirected by Ava DuVernay, a prolific rapper before director, she was one half of the rap duo Figures of Speech. Her first movie was about the rap club that we belonged to in LA called The Good Life. My uncle, the legendary DJ Fat Jack, was also a producer there, I came from that. There was also Project Blowed by my brother Abstract Rude and we all belonged to the Mass Men founded by Minister 2 Bad and Prodigy Twice D.

I can rap, rap. Even though you’re scaling back when you’re doing commercial records. Only the true heads are into that, but the true heads aren’t paying the bills. Every now and then I dig in the crates and flash on them when it’s time to.

AllHipHop: Talk about co-producing on the acoustic version of 2Pac’s “Thugz Mansion.”

N.I.C.E.: That song blew up, it was on Nas and 2Pac’s albums. In fact, I just got the triple Platinum plaque for it for 2Pac and the Nas platinum plaque for God’s Son as well. It’s a good feeling to be a part of history with two of the greatest rappers of all time. It was right when 2Pac died, Interscope records had us do the album in Modesto, California. Do you know where Modesto is? I think Jeremy Renner is from there, they had us hidden from all of the drama due to Pac’s death and the intrigue surrounding his music catalog.

AllHipHop: How does it feel to be honored by President Joe Biden, Senator Cesar Blanco of El Paso, New York Mayor Eric Adams and Compton Mayor Emma Sharif ?

N.I.C.E.: I am honored to have received President Biden’s Lifetime Achievement Award, shout out to Egypt and Hidden Gemstones along with VZ Vonzell Washington for making it happen. Then to be recognized by the Mayor of New York Eric Adams with a Citation for my contribution to the genre of Hip-Hop alongside some legends like Kurtis Blow, Special ED, DJ Kid Capri, DJ Chuck Chillout, Doug E. Fresh, 50 Cent and more. Then from Texas Senator Cesar J. Blanco from El Paso, Texas, who also recognized me for my career and community achievements in Hip Hop followed by Mayor Emma Sharif of Compton’s recognition..

When I think about my life, I’ve been in the music business since ‘94 professionally, I’m still here. I co-own the largest faith based Hip Hop station in the world called God’s House of Hip Hop, where we’re partnered with Dash Radio now Litt Live. We became the first “Hip-Hop” station in the history of gospel to win a Stellar Award, which is equivalent to the Grammys.

When you think about that achievement it spawned other stations. Now, Sirius XM has a station that’s faith-based. My other achievements include the First African-American animated music series on a major digital streaming platform, a best-selling author, and I sit on the board as President of two foundations: The iTL Foundation (Information, Technology & Literacy)  with executive directors Chantal Grayson and Connie Young Williams, and Urbanomics 101 with executive director Jzhamael Kebulon Ashantee.

 

 

AllHipHop: Tell us about God’s House of Hip-Hop Radio.

N.I.C.E.: We are the first station in the history of Gospel to win a Stellar Award for “Best Gospel Hip-Hop Radio Station of the Year” and with that we became the first station in the history of (Dash) now LittLive to win a major radio award. Keep in mind, LittLive has over the 80 plus stations, which includes Cube, Snoop, Young Money, Odd Future, Kylie Jenner and more..

AllHipHop: What was it like performing in front of 500,000 people?

N.I.C.E.: Definitely the highlight of my career, not to mention it was in Los Angeles at the 2023 Taste of Soul on the KJLH main stage. Me, Canton Jones and Shari Demby-Ravenell made a bit of Kingdom Hip-Hop history by being the first to do that for the culture. Shout out to Aundrae Russell for making that happen. On top of that, I got to link back up with my sis Tiffany Haddish, October London, Papoose. Taking pictures with the  mayors. It was a whole vibe.

AllHipHop: Talk about Hip Hop in Academia.

N.I.C.E.: The “educational empowerment movement” is emerging. Hip Hop’s role in education has expanded significantly and showcases the diverse ways in which Hip Hop intersects with education, reflecting a commitment to empowering the next generation through both music and academia. Programs and initiatives dedicated to Hip-Hop education will empower the upcoming generation of artists, producers and industry professionals. To me, this educational integration is pivotal for preserving and elevating the cultural significance of Hip-Hop. A testament to this ongoing shift is my appointment to Vice-Chancellor at Harvest Christian University Compton/LA’s Extension Campus and receiving a Ph.D. (Honoris Causa) for Music Business and Entrepreneurship. and becoming Dr. Aulsondro “Emcee N.I.C.E.” Hamilton. Then there are figures like rapper Dee-1, who now serves as a professor at Tufts University. Mia X, a professor in Hip-Hop at Loyola University, New Orleans. Professor Lupe Fiasco teaches at Yale, 9th Wonder, he’s lectured at institutions such as Harvard University and Duke University. KRS-One: Known for his contributions to Hip-Hop’s golden age, KRS-One has lectured at universities. GZA: As a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, GZA has collaborated with universities to promote science education and awareness.

 

 

AllHipHop: Tell us about Dream Flights International and goals for yourself? 

N.I.C.E.: Joining the advisory board of Dream Flights International (DFI) allows me to contribute to the evolution of urban luxury jet travel. DFI private jet service that utilizes a network of 4,000 pre-qualified aircraft adhering to safety requirements higher than those of the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration]; and charter out of 2,000 airports worldwide. In addition, we offer ground transportation [in 70 countries] and Executive Protection services. You really don’t find African Americans and Latinos in this space. It’s a new day.

Now, one of my goals is to be a multi-billionaire in the next five to 10 years. I don’t want to do it for the purposes of the money. I want to do it for the purposes of being able to build performing arts facilities around the United States. Starting in El Paso, Texas, I’ve made the announcement that I’m going to create performing arts schools independent of  state funding, so they don’t get shut down.

AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let the people know?

N.I.C.E.: There’s so many things.  I am an accomplished #1 best-selling author with my book Music Release University – The Indies Guide to Releasing Music, where I teach independent artists how to release music. It’s a book that’s going to help you release your music, but also help you in life. I apply one thing called SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When it comes to an investor, they want to know if you understand your company. If I’m gonna give you some money, do you understand the SWOT analysis of your company? What are the strengths of your company? The weaknesses and whatnot.

I say make that applicable to everyday life. What are your strengths personally? Analyze self and be honest with self. If you’re selling this product, what is the strength of that versus your competitor? What are the weaknesses? What’re opportunities that you can take advantage of, but may have missed? What‘re the threats you pose or posed against you? When you can have these questions answered, you have a successful business.

I’ve been in the music business since 1994, almost 30 years. I understood how to maneuver and I’m still maneuvering. Two things. One is for any great achievement, someone has to be the first to do it. Why not you? Another one is to, “Strive for perfection, so that you limit your mistakes.” We’re not perfect people. We’re always gonna have some mistakes, but if you’re striving to be the best you that you can be, then you will limit those mistakes.

And get my new seasoning N.I.C.E. Blend, N.I.C.E. & Savory and now N.I.C.E. Black Pepper Sea Salt. Yes, your boy can cook. Look out for my new TV Show, The Hip-Hop Cookhouse, with Emcee N.I.C.E. Follow me on all social media platforms at @emceenicela on twitter and instagram.

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