We had the good fortune of connecting with Aaliyah Nicole and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Aaliyah Nicole, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
Oftentimes I’m asked why I chose the music and entertainment business as a whole, and I simply respond to it like this, “I didn’t choose it, it chose me.” Growing up I was always surrounded by music, heavily by my mom’s immaculate musical taste, also my dad’s vocal ability and musicianship, oh and of course the good ol’ baptist church. Hell, even my older brother had picked up the pen for fun before I did. Music has always been a part of me, but before I ran with this thing, I actually had premature hoop dreams. Typical [laughs] I grew up playing with my big brother and the older boys on the block. I really love the sport of basketball, and I wanted to go to the WNBA. After moving and changing schools a few times, I finally got the chance to play a little organized ball in middle school, but by that time my focus had shifted; there were also some early injuries from playing street-ball and just being a tomboy that ultimately limited me as well. I realized at 10 that the ink from my pen bled a little differently, but it was really just a hobby at the time.
At 12, I did some kind of performance at church; I can’t really remember what exactly, but afterwards an actor from our drama ministry, Ricky, pulled me to the side, and lit a fire under me like none other. He said I was a superstar and basically told me that I need to take this thing seriously. I wish he would have warned me about what I was truly getting myself into first! [laughs] But seriously, he passed away before he could see me really develop, however he’s the reason I’m here. He told me this was my path, and at 12, for some reason I believed him. Now, right at a year shy of 30, my crazy self still got the nerve to believe him. He made me believe, and I can’t let him nor that 12 year old little girl inside of me down.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Wow, I really appreciate that for real. It means a lot, thank you. It’s been a journey to say the least! Once I decided to get serious about this music thing, I started my first group, Jeenyuz (Genius) at 12. Although I grew up singing in the choir at church, I was so used to being surrounded by certain types of vocal monsters that I would actually shy away from singing solo, so early in my career, I would only rap and sing background. I allowed myself to believe that I couldn’t sing or that I was only good enough for the background; it wasn’t until I joined the gospel choir freshman year at Oak Park & River Forest High School, under the leadership of Mrs. Latonia Jackson (formerly Brown) and Ms. Marsha Holmes, where I was challenged to change my mindset as well as focus on building my confidence. By the time I graduated, my high school momma Latonia had pulled so much out of me, and that’s far beyond just vocals. She truly groomed the leader and multidisciplinary creative that I am today. There’s many layers to my story, and many people I can credit… I mean we are talking 17 years on this journey…wow it’s really been 17 years… but yeah man, to sum it up, I’m Aaliyah Nicole, the CEO of multimedia based freelance company, Superstar Dream Entertainment of 7 years, and I am an artist. These days you can catch me creating and producing my own projects beginning to end, from vocal performance, music production to mixing and mastering. I must say that I am never content, and none of this has been easy; I am always pushing myself to be better than the previous project, but I am proud of how far I’ve come. Oh yeah! You can also find me on social media entertaining my amazing #SlickNation fam with my comedy content and “I’m Concerned” comedic reaction videos, which I’m proud to say has garnered over millions of views on Facebook, and we’ve built quite a respectable following in the process. S/o to the Nation, #SlickNation that is.
I think we all have unique gifts that sets us apart from others, it’s just up to us to tap into what those gifts may be, and to work it. I believe what people would appreciate most from me, at least I hope, is my style and authenticity. So many people say it, but I’ve truly yet to hear anything else out there like me. For so long I used to try to sound like certain mainstream artists because I was made to believe there wasn’t a place for me or my style, but it never worked [laughs] because I am who I am. That’s why Missy Elliott remains so influential to me, even newer artists like Lil Nas X, Doja Cat, and Smino, just to name a few, who are all on their own very different yet successful waves, and that’s what it’s about. I hate to hear the same kind of artists over the same recycled beats time and time again. That’s something you definitely won’t get from me. Don’t just take my word for it though, you can hear it for yourself by checking out my latest EP “NuWaveZ” and more, available now on all major music streaming platforms!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve been away for a couple years, and just recently relocated back to the A, and it’s a lot of new hot spots that I’ve yet to even touch, but we’d definitely have to brunch at Milk & Honey no doubt! First time visit? Gotta get touristy, maybe hit up the World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium; that’s still optional though, but what’s not optional is a visit to the Human & Civil Rights Museum! We can check out Centennial Park, walk around downtown. Tour the AUC, I mean it’s only right for us to stop by the illustrious Clark Atlanta University! If it’s as good as I remember, we gotta go to Mary Mac’s for some soul food. Hit up Apache for an open mic one night. Gotta see what’s poppin’ on the LGBTQ+ scene of course. Maybe check out Nene Leakes’ new lounge too. Oh, we gotta hit the gun-range! And eat, eat EAT! In no particular order of course [laughs] There’s so much to do in and around the A. It’ll never be a dull moment, that’s for sure, just be ready for the traffic, and you definitely need a few more extra dollars in these ATL streets these days!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are a number of people who deserve some love and a shoutout from me. Overall, I’m very blessed to have the support system that I have, so it’s only right I give a general shoutout to all my people: my family, friends, #SlickNation, church family, the great city of Chicago, special shouts to the westside, and even the naysayers who all not only challenge me, but keep me motivated and encouraged along this journey. However, to get a little more specific, it would be very remiss of me to not shoutout my overall constant and biggest cheerleader since the very beginning of this journey, and that’s my mother, best friend and confidant, Margaret Love Acree. I can write a novel on that one, but I’ll spare y’all for now [laughs] I also gotta shoutout my love and favorite licensed esthetician, Zoya Dae of Dae’s Beauty Room for partnering up with me along this ride, and lastly, a heavenly shoutout to my late producer & engineer Slick Litt, and to the reason I’m on this journey to begin with, the late great Ricky Campbell, Sr.
Image: Zoya Daé Artwork
Cover Artwork: Aaliyah Nicole