Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Nickelus F., a rapper, songwriter, and producer. My music career started here in Richmond in the early 2000s, and I’ve since gone national with it. I’ve also recently signed on with Virginia Commonwealth University to do freelance copywriting, content creation, and content strategy work.
Describe Richmond in 3 words.
Cultural. Interesting. Authentic.
From sun up to sun down, what’s your ideal day in RVA?
I usually begin my day by working out at an abandoned school, and then I stop by a local coffee shop for an iced coffee and croissant. I visit a few record stores, usually Steady Sounds, Vinyl Conflict, or Plan 9. Since I’ll have a light breakfast, I’ll be ready for a heavier lunch, so I’ll go rock with Carena’s Jamaican Grille and get the jerk chicken and cabbage, of course. If I need to get the wolf off my face, I’ll go down and visit my barber at Brand New Wave VA; they’ve been cutting my hair for years.
No matter how my day goes, it always ends with me going into the studio with my people and making music, usually using music I’ve gotten from the record stores. I don’t go out much; I’m a creative, so I’m all about getting my alone time and being able to create. I do go to the RVA Rap Elite events, which is something I’m part owner of. I’ll bring the kids out to that, and we have a good time. My whole life is centered around music—creating it, creating platforms for other people, and promoting it.
What would you say is Richmond’s best kept secret?
There’s a Jamaican lady who owns a cart down Main Street…M&F Jamaican Cafe on Wheelz. The thing about her is, you have to call ahead and let her know you’re coming, because they don’t just have food already ready. But it’s so worth it because the food is so good. It becomes a habitual thing for me; I’ll go on binges for weeks at a time, and make that drive down to the city. That’s one of Richmond’s best kept secrets; no one I talk to has ever heard about her.
BLK RVA is all about supporting the thriving Black businesses and culture in the Richmond region and encouraging tourists to do the same. What’s one thing every visitor MUST do or see when they come to our region?
Tap into the local music scene. There’s always something going on locally music-wise…tap into it. I even say that for people who live here, not just our visitors. We’re getting recognized nationally, but Richmond natives don’t even realize what’s available. We have people with the RVA Rap Elite who drive over an hour or two to come be a part of it every month because they don’t have that sort of culture in their city, so the closest place they can get that feel is Richmond. It bugs me what percentage of the crowd is out of town. We could definitely use more locals knowing what’s going on here.
You’re originally from the Chesterfield area. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re staying close to home?
I love to go to the park and jog. I love running through the trails, whether it's at Rockwood Park or riding my bike down the Capital Trail. If I’m not working on music, the one thing I love to do is go outside. I love hiking, jogging, working out outside, going to all the parks, walking around the lakes, and all of that good stuff. The counties are really great to just get outside and be around nature; it’s literally the best part about being out here. People who come to visit, especially from up north, always tell me that they love the trees and the greenery we have here.
When we say the name BLK RVA, what does that mean to you?
It means history. When I say history, I mean HISTORY—the first slaves were brought here, through this port. Historically, what we’ve been able to build here, considering the fact that this was the heart of the Confederacy and now we have the Arthur Ashe Boulevard and the statue of him on Monument Avenue, it’s a big deal. There’s still a lot of things that need to be done, but I’m just proud of Black RVA and what we’ve been able to do over the past few decades and even longer. When I talk about the music and cultural scene, I’m proud of where we are, how we’re handling our business, and holding up our end of the bargain. And when it comes to restaurants, there's just too many to name. It’s even allowed my mom and I to have a lot of bonding time; we’re always sharing restaurants with each other, going out, and putting each other on to new spots around here. So when it comes to Black RVA, I’m just proud of what we’ve done here.