Born: March 11, 1970, in San Francisco.
Sounds like: A nerve-racking conversation with a sketchy, well-dressed character in a dark strip club.
For fans of: Mac Dre, Rappin 4-Tay, Spice 1, Too Short
Latest release: My Middle Name Is Crime, an EP made for a quick buck with Bay Area heavy hitter the Jacka. The disc is full of half-hearted verses and weak song concepts. Nicky releases a lot of material—sometimes it's great, sometimes it sucks.
Why you care: In 1995, Andre Nickatina—then known as Dre Dog—released his sophomore album, I Hate You With a Passion, a record that drew a lot of attention (and his only chart showing) for its straightforward take on the grimy street happenings of San Francisco's Fillmore neighborhood. Since then, Dre Dog has changed his name, released about 10 albums (not including collaborations) and gotten, well, a little weird. At some point, Nicky started rapping about some really random shit (especially food), giving his street persona a ridiculousness that has made him a favorite among college students—similar to fellow tough-yet-goofy rappers Lil' Wayne and Cam'ron. Nickatina's brand of oddball drug rap isn't the only reason he's remained relevant, though; he has a proven track record of creating quality bangers—from the Equipto-assisted "Jungle" to the dollar-sniffing anthem "Ayo." The 41-year-old has been performing shows in Oregon regularly for more than a decade (rumor has it he comes up to check on Nicky's Gentlemen's Club, a strip joint he owns in Springfield) and has a reputation of sometimes being too high, drunk or angry to perform. Like his music, though, when he gives his A-game, Nicky—a sly-mouthed gangster MC with a quirky imagination who makes music you can shake your ass to—is a blast to be around.
SEE IT: Andre Nickatina plays the Roseland Theater on Friday, Sept. 16, with Mistah F.A.B. 8 pm. $25. All ages.