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Nicholas “NicDanger” Rodriguez, right, directs his lyrics toward Columbia resident Sam Bradford, left, during KCOU/88.1’s rap battle Dec. 4, 2013, at Speakers Circle. Rodriguez finished first in the competition.

Mike Krebs/Senior Staff Photographer

Local artist NicDanger pursues passion

The young rapper is working to take his talents all over the country.

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Nicholas “NicDanger” Rodriguez’s ultimate aspiration is to inspire. The 23-year-old rapper hopes to motivate his listeners to pursue their passions through his music.

He embodies the message he’s trying to send. The Columbia native has been working since near-infancy to make a career for himself doing what he loves. He found his passion during a poetry unit in his fourth grade class and hasn’t stopped rapping since.

He hasn’t limited himself to this one facet of art either. NicDanger has also been breakdancing his way through life. In junior high, Rodriguez played some guitar in a band that he and his friends formed, called “disruptedperceptionz.” He describes that work as similar to Rage Against The Machine.

The band eventually dissolved, but Rodriguez’s thirst for expression through art continued. In the ninth grade, Rodriguez began recording his work. It started in the basement of his friend’s house. His friend, Marcus Miller, happened to be a recording genius. Miller has since moved away, and now a more refined NicDanger records at professional outfits like local Heezer’s Palace Studios.

Connections are key to moving up in the industry, and Rodriguez knows this. With a naturally social personality, he began by going to parties and meeting people, which got him a job pushing fliers.

“Then I moved up from promoting parties to having to throw my own parties,” Rodriguez says. “At that point I know enough people that if I put out music, I at least get noticed.”

This social networking is what got his career rolling. NicDanger began opening for big name artists like DJ Unk and Yung Joc, and he had the fortune of opening for a Machine Gun Kelly concert that happened to fall on his 21st birthday. More recently, the artist has shared a stage with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Tech N9ne.

Rodriguez has already proved he won’t be wearing the adjective “local” much longer. He has performed in Arkansas, southern Missouri and Panama City Beach. He will be going back to perform in Panama City Beach for the month of March, but he hopes to make it back in town to perform at the “What If…?” conference at The Blue Note and at KCOU Springfest.

This is all just the beginning. Rodriguez has already taken steps to prepare to move to Portland, Maine, where he wants to perform, and then work his way to New York and Boston. After that, he plans to get to Los Angeles, and study under California Institute of the Arts’ accelerated program for bachelor’s degrees in business and marketing.

“I’m looking to do more of that business oriented stuff to fund what I’m doing,” Rodriguez says.

He says he hopes he can continue his current work writing and performing jingles and commercials to earn the means to support his musical career. Rodriguez’s latest commercial work is a local ad for Sami Beauty Supply. The ad is airing on both radio and television.

Perhaps what makes NicDanger so interesting is his versatility. When asked to share some of his biggest musical influences, Rodriguez could list 50 distinctly different artists without stopping for air.

“I draw from everything,” he says.

He listens to Arrested Development, S.O.S. Band, Eminem, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Led Zeppelin, Buckcherry, Tears for Fears and Tech N9ne, just to name a few.

“I love music,” Rodriguez says, “It comes out as rap, but I’m inspired by other things, and it filters through. I think the way something hits you is the way it’s going to come out.”

When something doesn’t feel right as a rap, Rodriguez might express it through dance. And if it doesn’t come out as breakdancing, it might come as salsa dancing.

Both through his actions and his lyrics, Rodriguez hopes to inspire people to do something they are passionate about. Whether he is singing, rapping, dancing or jingle-writing, NicDanger lives every moment in pursuit of a career doing what he loves.

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