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Preview: Andre Nickatina at Avalon Nightclub

In Clubs, Music

“I like candied yams, I never jeopardize who I am!” says Andre Nickatina, the renowned West Coast rap veteran who’s making a highly anticipated tour stop at Santa Clara’s Avalon Nightclub this week. Formally known as Dre Dog, Nickatina has achieved luminary status through slanging tapes and CDs hand-to-hand, most of which solely talk about drugs, money, or women.

On his most recent mixtape, Where’s My Money?, he raps in different cadences over an array of production both old and new. His voice, calm and confident, continues to age well. But his music is mainly—and has always been—more about personality than delivery; more vibe than subject matter.

That’s how has he grabbed such a huge following through the years. After all, he’s hardly the first rapper to fixate on his chosen subject matter. Yet he’s popular enough to have toured internationally since his 1993 debut The New Jim Jones, when he was still known as Dre Dog (a handle he dropped after his second project). The subsequent I Hate You With A Passion peaked impressively at #3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart with no major promo push or marketing campaign.

He’s also maintained a mysterious aura around his whole hustle, rarely doing interviews and often times eluding journalists and fans. What’s special about his rise is that the Internet wasn’t then what it is now. And while his career got a shot in the arm certainly as file sharing exploded, he’s essentially thrived on what even the most mainstream of artists sometimes can’t: simple word of mouth. He’s gone from performing at public venues or any college campus that would have him to his current 44-city tour, selling out huge venues.

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