Not many artists are given the opportunity to open for major players in the music industry before releasing their first album, but newly-emerging Canadian rapper Nyce is proving it can be done.
The 29-year old from Montreal, who is set to perform at Garfinkel's on Tuesday (March 13), just opened for rap icon Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan fame - and his debut album isn't set for release until later this year.
"I was excited and nervous, hoping that not just the audience would like my music but he would appreciate my music as well and maybe word gets out," Nyce said about opening for Raekwon on March 3 in Montreal.
Before signing with Montreal's independent record label Hustle Cartel in 2011, Nyce was having fun putting studio time in with friends and making music. After he was introduced to the label, "that was it from there."
"They saw potential, that I was able to rap," he said. "I was doing it all off the head and just putting words together; they actually taught me the format of writing and actually putting a song together."
Nyce started performing only in the last year and has done less than a dozen shows to date. He has also opened for M.O.P. - a rap duo also from the Wu-Tang Clan era with a strong underground following. Since opening for Raekwon, Nyce has been given the nod to open for American rapper Freeway's Canadian tour. The Whistler date is the last one on the cross-country tour and Nyce said he's excited to come out west for the first time.
"I listen to Freeway so I'm trying to mix up certain songs that I have so that we're not too far off topic," he said. "He's a very live person and he's got a lot of good music so to actually keep up with him - I can't wait to see what I'm going to do."
After years of working in a tattoo shop, Nyce found his inspiration to pick up a microphone by Atlanta rapper Young Jeezy, who he used to listen to frequently.
"There was just a message in his music that told me to go and get it," he said. "A lot of people say they want to do things but never actually get up to do it."
A first-generation Canadian with parents from the West Indies, Nyce listened to reggae and calypso music growing up, and played steel pam drums when he was younger.
"My music is just for people to enjoy themselves, (but) don't take life lightly - opportunities come and they go," he said. "Just to enjoy yourself. There is a lot of negativity that's out there for some reason - I'm hoping that can change."
"I'm just trying to bring some smiles," he said. "Everyone calls me Nyce - I didn't feel like spelling it 'nice,' I tried to put a little twang into it."
With the size of Montreal's rap scene and the amount of talent that's out there, Nyce is surprised but thankful to be in the position that he's in, and said he never would have guessed his music career could take off so fast. Two singles off his upcoming debut album, titled Certified, have videos that play on Much Vibe.
"I'm trying to make it the best that it can be, and hoping that I'm gonna take it where it's supposed to go," he said. "I'm trying to go to the top, I'm trying to go all the way. As far as they believe in me to go, that's where I plan on going."
Nyce is opening for Freeway at Garfinkel's on Tuesday. The show starts at 9:30 p.m. and advance tickets are $15 at Billabong, Katmandu or Garf's lobby. Tickets can also be purchased online at ticketzone.com or for $20 at the door. For more on Nyce, check out his Facebook page or visit reverbna.tion.com/Nycemtl.