There’s been a rumor circulating claiming that hip hop is dead. Regardless of where one stands on that one, there are people who embrace the culture and use it as a vehicle to express themselves and the potential for humane being. They force me, personally, to re-check hip hop’s pulse before i say definitively whether it still lives. And even if the pulse is sometimes difficult to find, Emcee Nemesis (among others) keep heart beat of hip hop culture strong.
Coming of age during the “Golden Era” of rap music, Nemesis recalled being inspired to write his first rhymes by his older stepbrother who rapped and constantly watched Yo! MTV Raps. Between that, his simultaneous love for heavy metal, listening to audio stories, and reading books, the nascent emcee was nurturing his imagination and developing an extensive vocabulary. When in 5th grade, Nemesis decided to write his first lyrics. It was then that the emcee was born.
I met Emcee Nemesis in 1997, several years after his first rhyme. During that time, he was part of the Underground Nation with two of our mutual friends. Nemesis always impressed me with his ability to bring raw and thoughtful lyrics (whether freestyle or written) without cursing, which was forbidden in my parents’ home! Since high school, he got into radio, first co-hosting a college radio show for two years, then doing his own show for another two years. Emcee Nemesis has also been a professional athlete. He played football for a living in France, Switzerland, and Germany, holding down quarterback and linebacker positions. And he was a Program Director at a Boys and Girls Club in North Carolina. Working with children, he stated, provides him with the most opportunity to do what he feels is really changing the world.
But Nemesis is still an emcee through and through. “Honestly, it’s just in me at this point. I couldn’t stop if I wanted to. I love it. I am constantly in Rap mode.” Being in continuous rap mode means that a roommate in college used to wake him up because he was rhyming in his sleep! Now married, quality time with his wife is sometimes interrupted when Nemesis needs to write his lines on napkins with hopes of using them later. “Most of my songs are really just about what’s going on in my mind or my life. Honest music. Life has really shaped and molded me as an artist and I truly believe that.”
Christianity has also helped make the “No Chain Emcee” into an artist that stands out amongst his peers. Although Emcee Nemesis does not consider himself a gospel rapper, he does use his craft to proudly profess his faith and use it as a vehicle to share with those who are willing to listen. And some people may be more likely to listen if the message comes through a dope song than through other formats.
His recently released banger, “Better Days,” captures these various themes. Accompanied by a track produced by Iceland’s Fonetik Simbol, Nemesis speaks “through the drums to free” listeners’ “brainses/ as if i was speaking in tongues ’cause He ordained this.” In the song, he discusses being a truth seeker struggling to walk righteously according to his beliefs so that he can help the youth in whom he’s so invested realize “that we can win.” On the other hand, much of the world seems to direct him toward acquiring material goods that will only last as long as consumers’ drug-supported attention spans. It’s in the contradiction between those two aspects of life where Emcee Nemesis shines.
You can keep up with Emcee Nemesis on his website. Make sure to check in regularly, because his new EP will be dropping soon. Until it’s available, you can cop some of his other tracks, which are available for download, and check out his videos on his youtube channel. If you just so happen to be in Europe, he may be performing near you. Check his website for all updated info. Finally, you can reach out to Emcee Nemesis for booking, potential collaboration, or just to let him know what you think about his music via email: email@example.com.
– Brotha Onaci