Detroit rapper and Knight Arts Challenge winner, Nique Love Rhodes embodies the concept of “artivism,” a term that encompasses art being used to raise critical consciousness, build community and galvanize to promote social change.
She’s the front-woman and sole emcee of The NLR Experience, an indie band that fuses hip hop with elements of funk, jazz and rock and whose lyrical content addresses societal ills and suggests solutions through notions of peace, love and unity.
“My music is real universal and I do that on purpose. It’s very much about everyday people and everyday struggles,” says Rhodes. ”But within that, you’ll hear messages about love, peace and positive energy… concepts that I think we all fight for.”
She adds, “As a person of faith, you have a social responsibility and moral responsibility to use your gifts and talents for good. So that was something I was aware of from the jump, when I started doing music.”
With music as the foundation, Nique and her band have expanded their mission with the creation of D.Cipher LLC, a grassroots initiative dedicated to advancing the music economy across Michigan through workshops and partnerships. And with Rise Up Higher, her non-profit, she uses themes from her music as tools for social good and inspiring youth to amplify their voice within the community.
“Music is not only an art form,” she says. It’s a platform to bring people together. That’s something that I leverage in my music. This gets you connected to the [music] movement, but then it’s like, let me introduce you to these other outlets – D.Cipher and Rise Up Higher.”
Click the player above to hear Nique’s conversation with CultureShift’s LaToya Cross about how music opened new opportunities to help change the community around her for the better.
This story is a part of Detroit StoryMakers.
WDET’s Detroit StoryMakers initiative empowers local storytellers in bringing Detroit’s stories to life. Support for this initiative comes from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Michigan Council of Arts and Cultural Affairs and through matching gifts from station donors.