Aulsondro “Novelist” Hamilton (known in Hip-Hop Gospel as Emcee N.I.C.E.) and his business partner William “Dolla” Chapman II have created “Da Jammies,” the first African-American original animated 3D music series on Netflix.
“Da Jammies” is about five kids from the suburbs who sing, dance and rap with dreams of becoming the next R&B/Hip-Hop stars, all while they attend a performing arts school. But the show also delves deeper into issues such as bullying, homelessness, obesity, self-awareness and much more.
Emcee N.I.C.E. is the voice of the star character, Novelist in the popular cartoon. Now, Emcee N.I.C.E. is celebrating success with debut Inspirational Hip-Hop CD, “Praise.”
Emcee N.I.C.E.’s CD includes the independent chart-topping single, “I Got Angels” (Richard Smallwood). The result is chart-topping Billboard sales and airplay charts as the #1 Top Gospel Albums, #1 Gospel Album Sales, #1 Hot Single Sales, and #1 Digital Song Sales.
Emcee N.I.C.E. talked to Parlé about Hip-Hop, children’s TV, and much more.
Parlé Mag: You have been in the game a while, how do you feel about the state of Hip-Hop?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: I feel like Hip-Hop is in great hands now, it just had to go through a period of re-establishment. Whereas in the late ‘90s and the top of 2000 there was coastal varieties available with different and unique sounds, whether it was 2Pac to Biggie or Redman to Eminem, Jay-Z to Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and more… Emcees stood out, who not only ruled the Billboard charts, the gimmicks were subtle and revenue generated by those artists was in the hundreds of millions of dollars, along with the drama that came with them. Today, the Southern movement is successfully saturating the market with bass heavy beats, cadence rapping and it has become the heavy leader of rap. Some of it makes you question the listeners preferences, however the emergence of lyricists like Kendrick Lamar, Dave East, J Cole and Logic are reeling in the rap heads that fell in love with the Hip-Hop side of Hip-Hop (beats, lyrics, and rhymes).
Parlé Mag: Why have you decided to remain in the game?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: For me it’s not about remaining in the game, it is about maneuvering within the game. I am Emcee N.I.C.E., an inspirational B-boy who is constantly evolving hence, N.I.C.E. (Novelist Is Constantly Evolving). I love Hip-Hop especially creating thought provoking lyrics with creative metaphors that cause the listener to dig deep within themselves, I just do it for God now, to inspire the next generation of Gospel Hip-Hop heads to take it to another level.
Parlé Mag: How have you evolved as an artist over the years?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: My evolution has been real simple, I payed attention to the trends both traditional & non-traditional and understood their destination. I knew in order to have my voice heard, I would have to navigate within the parameters of following the momentum of things while at the same time creating my own lane. Once I understood the organic formula, I was able to create diverse lanes to expose my talents not only in music but writing as well, hence the creation of my album, “Praise,” my cartoon, “Da Jammies” and my book, “50 Shades of L.O.V.E.—(Learning Our Various Emotions).” All have musical outlets.
Parlé Mag: Why did you decide to showcase your faith in your music?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: I started in Gospel Hip-Hop and positive rapping, at the time it wasn’t readily accepted by the church, but music was my calling and there were some things going on in the church that caused me to question faith and seek my own understanding. The music I was doing was too edgy for church ears and not laced with your familiar Gospel melodies or pulpit deliveries. But thanks to Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, and Lecrae; they opened the doors for the church to accept different forms of worship. So now I walk in with my tribute album to the Lord called “Praise” which is filled with stylized scripture using creative metaphors. In my musical journey, I didn’t succumb to drinking and drugs, I am not a hood dude I grew up in the suburbs and my earlier Hip-Hop was premised on relationships anyway, so I am letting people in on my relationship with God.
Parlé Mag: Why was this important to you?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: Given the climate of Hip-Hop, and the climate of society my personal beliefs and feelings, I believe people need encouraging words and songs that could give them strength even if it is just for a moment. Utilizing God’s gift to give back not only to the church, but enlighten those outside of, and or around the church. Let them see my God flow and that lets them know it’s “alright” to praise and worship in a way that you feel comfortable, ironically that’s the title of my next single.
“Alright” (feat. Stripped, Rahkua & The Georgia All-Stars) delves into a conversation about the many that question faith, belief and life. Telling the listener, it’s okay to have the questions, but truly seek the answers and everything will be alright.
Parlé Mag: For a while, it seemed like faith-based Hip-Hop was in the spotlight, but not so much lately. Why do you feel this is so?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: Actually faith-based Hip-Hop is very much still in the spotlight and thriving even more. Think about it. My last single “I Got Angels” sat on top of the Billboard Hot Single Sales chart for 7 weeks, I achieved the #1 Gospel Album and 2 more #1’s in Gospel Digital Sales and Gospel Digital Album sales, but it doesn’t stop with me. You have Lecrae, NF, Andy Mineo, Bizzle, Sevin, Uncle Reece, Canton Jones you know, guys that have been doing God’s work for a minute, pushing the movement and opening even more lanes. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the women doing the Lord’s work with Angie Rose, Erica Mason, Keya Smith, Torch, and many more, that got real bars. Sanctioned by God in the spirit of Hip-Hop.
Parlé Mag: How did Da Jammies come about?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: Da Jammies came about when me and my business partner William “Dolla” Chapman II were playing Madden and took a break, we flipped on regular television and noticed a lot of the shows that was on TV for urban kids were based in wizardry, magic and a reality not really geared towards them or understanding of the culture in which they dwelled, that is R&B/hip-hop music and fashion. We wanted to change that, so we created five kids from the suburbs who sing, dance and rap striving to be the next R&B/Hip-Hop stars while dealing with the challenges that today’s kid goes through, whether it be bullying, obesity, homelessness, self-awareness and more. Our goal was to create a cartoon that the kids of today can identify with, each character is culturally diverse, full of color and mimics the personalities of some of today’s youth. We have a “hot head” in “Dolla”; a “peacekeeper” in “Novelist”; “poetic zen” with “Momo”; a “singing diva” in “LaLa”; “a food junkie soul singer” in “Sevin”; and a “resident genius” in “Einny.” Their Nemesis are the “Battlebrats,” who are, well to do rich kids, and a principal called “Cransberry” who is constantly trying to make money off of them or against them to serve his self interest.
Parlé Mag: How did it deal with Netflix happen?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: The deal was spearheaded by my brother in frat Jamal and Jamie from BlacktreeTV, Dolla, and myself. Netflix was looking to expand content into the urban market and ‘Da Jammies’ was the prime property to fill that need. We had the content and a deal was done.
Parlé Mag: What does it feel like to be the co-creator of the first Black animated music series for kids on Netflix?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: Coming from a legacy of firsts with my uncle Ron Husband being the first African-American animator at Disney, my fraternity Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. having members such as George Washington Carver to James Weldon Johnson who penned “Lift Every Voice” (the Black National Anthem). Anytime there is a first anything, that becomes historical. So for me to be apart of history is an honor and I hope to continue this run creating generational wealth and who knows maybe one day be the first Hip-Hop head to serve as President of the United States.
Parlé Mag: What’s next for you?
Emcee N.I.C.E.: Right now, my new single “Alright” (ft. Stripped, Rahkua & The Georgia All-Stars) that I released as a “maxi-single,” which has multiple versions, a “Sunday Morning Remix” and a “Trap Remix” produced by Sam Peezy, along with a bonus track in “I Believe” (ft. Selah Avery) produced by DJ Fat Jack. There are some collaborations with gospel legends as well as touring and I will be continuing to promote “Da Jammies.”
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