Star Staff Reports
Knowledge Nick’s Hip-Hop Music Featured in Memphis-Produced Film
‘The Suburban Itch’ Takes on Profiling with Humor, Role Reversal
Memphis-area hip-hop recording artist Knowledge Nick will be featured in “The Suburban Itch,” a short film which takes on profiling with humor, role reversal and music.
“The M (featuring Bartholomew Jones)” will open the film as three college students driving in North Memphis have a fateful intersection with a jogger. “Leaders of the New School (featuring Bartholomew Jones)” will play over credits. The music is courtesy publisher Artist Tree Entertainment.
“Knowledge Nick’s music and uplifting themes on Memphis perfectly fit the film’s message that we are all in this together and should not be quick to judge,” said Gary Moore, producer and director, Moore Media & Entertainment.
The Suburban Itch was filmed and produced entirely in Memphis. It will be submitted to U.S. and foreign film festivals when it comes out of post production this week.
So many people told “Knowledge Nick” Hicks they did not think he was from Memphis that the popular hip-hop artist wrote a song about it.
“The M” chronicles Hicks’ view of his city, “from the ‘burbs to the hood” and “blessed, from East to West” and explains that people think he is from “up North.”
“People want to put you in a box,” laments Hicks, who says he is “excited” to be part of “The Suburban Itch.”
Knowledge Nick and his music were, therefore, a perfect match to be featured in “The Suburban Itch,” a comedy short film which attacks profiling with humor and music.
When Hicks raps about “the ‘burbs,” he is referring to Millington, where he lives. He is a Millington High School graduate, and his mom works on the Navy base.
“The M” and “Leaders of the New School,” written and performed by Hicks and Bartholomew Jones will, respectively, open and close the film. “The Suburban Itch,” a Moore Media & Entertainment film, was shot and produced entirely in Memphis.
Hicks does not have a Southern accent – at least by local standards – and he is thoughtful and well-spoken. A slender fellow, Hicks has a wide smile that flashes out from under his ball cap and black-rimmed glasses, which bring to mind a young Spike Lee.
Through music and his desire to shape a better community, Hicks is striving to break out of any stereotypes and lead a “new school” of citizens and performers.
TEACHING FROM THE COLLEGE OF MUSICAL KNOWLEDGE
‘The Professor of Memphis Rap,’ Knowledge Nick’s musical themes include uplifting the community and “using knowledge” to break out of constraints imposed on oneself or by the larger society.
“I can’t stand to see the ignorance,” Hicks raps in “Listen to This,” and he knocks rappers who “compromise your soul to get a record deal.”
In “One Time for Ya Mind,” Hicks sings, “This is a state of emergency” and a “wakeup call for grownups and adolescents.” He decries crime, low-hanging pants and gang signs. He raps a message about “getting a bachelor’s or an MBA” and implores listeners to “help in the community…
“I preach, because, the youth we got to teach — we are more than entertainers and athletes,” he raps, and, use “knowledge of self to combat what we was taught…instead of thinking a lack of intelligence is fine.”
PERSPECTIVE AND SPIRITUALITY
“I have been able to see multiple perspectives on life,” Hicks said. “That has molded me to understand different things and people. I like to think, community first. What can we do as a community to bring us together?”
Hicks’ experiences have included working as an intern his entire senior year for the US Army Corps of Engineers and a summer growing beans, squash, tomatoes and corn on his grandparents’ farm outside Covington.
Yoga and meditation are also among Knowledge Nick’s interests.
“I am a spiritual person,” he said. “I have this spirit about helping people.
“It’s character, values and standards, that attract you to good people,” Hicks added. “I don’t mean that in just a boyfriend-girlfriend way.”
Released last year, The New Memphis was the fourth and last of Knowledge Nick’s albums, and he has a full-length album, The Diary of Knowledge Nick, ready to be released soon.
Hicks puts down musical artists who have “sold out” their principles for fame and money.
“To me, music is therapeutic. “
Knowledge Nick’s publisher views Nick as a “different breed,” just like his line in “The M.”
“What sets Nick apart from other artists is that he’s a change agent,” says Kevin Youngblood, CEO of Artist Tree Entertainment. “The trolley incident proves that. Most artists probably would have ranted on social media for a few weeks, recorded a song to post on Soundcloud or Bandcamp, voicing their displeasure. That would have been all.
“Nick took the issue beyond himself and his music,” Youngblood says. “He could have easily used that to promote his music — one person actually suggested that was what he was doing with everything surrounding the incident. Nick didn’t let this define him, and he didn’t use this as promoting himself. He was genuinely looking for answers and looking to be the change he wanted to see.”
Artist Tree’s artists, including Knowledge Nick, Iron Mic Coalition and Max Ptah, recently donated their performances to Hip-hop Fam Jam Vol. 1, a night of family-friendly hip-hop at Crosstown Arts. WMC-TV aired a story about the Fam Jam in its “good news” segment.
“Mainstream media tends to give hip-hop such a negative connotation that it hurts the hip-hop scene here,” Youngblood said. “When a music venue hears ‘hip-hop’ or ‘rap’ or ‘rapper,’ they think we are bringing in a rowdy crowd, maybe a vulgar or violent element.
“Actually, it is the total opposite,” Youngblood added. “We are socially conscious – but having fun is one of the principles of hip-hop. We represent integrity. The stories that we tell, we know about. We are living it or have lived it. Integrity is the cornerstone of Artist Tree.”
THE SUBURBAN ITCH
In the film, an African-American college student, Mary Beth Miles (played by Charisse Norment) comes to the rescue of the white jogger when police hassle him. Police handcuff the two together, calling it “street justice.”
When Mary Beth must come home in handcuffs and face her irascible father, things not only do not go well – dad James Miles (played by Delvyn Brown) discovers the young man is an out-of-work reporter who wrote negative stories about Miles’ company.
“James Miles would love for his daughter to bring home Nick Hicks,” Moore said.
“The Suburban Itch” is coming out of post-production this week, and the film will be submitted to U.S. and foreign film festivals, including Indie Memphis.
Those who question that Knowledge Nick is from Memphis have it backwards, says Jenni Moore, executive producer of “The Suburban Itch.”
“Memphis is open to creativity and gives people room to be who they are, without having to follow a pattern, more than most places,” she says. “In that way, Knowledge Nick is very much from Memphis.”
Film website: www.TheSuburbanItch.com