On and off the stage, Dominique Campbell — Detroit hip hop artist Nique Love Rhodes — makes it her business to generate a positive impact, not just through her music, but also through her actions.

Rhodes got her start as a songwriter as a kid writing poems and performing spoken-word poetry on Detroit’s west side. She was encouraged by a fellow church member and family friend, Michael Smith, to turn the poems into songs. She began to study songwriting and eventually turned her poetry into music.

Rhodes has a strong desire to be an inspiration to young people. Rhodes works at a local non-profit organization, and also spent years working as a youth counselor and mentor. Taking pride in the message and content that she creates, Rhodes refuses to put out music that is contradictory to who she is and the positivity she wants to give listeners.

TBD sat down with Rhodes before her Campbell Terrace performance in The Dequindre Cut to find out more about the emcee who has been establishing herself as one of the leading hip hop performers in Detroit.

What separates you from the other Detroit hip hop artists?

Being conscious and inspirational is something that always sets you apart. Beyond that my message is conscious, yet easy to digest. I’ve been able to perform the same set of songs in front of children, people at clubs and even one time at a senior citizen building — and get a good response from all three of those very diverse audiences. I create feel-good music that has a message. I also have a really good live show, it’s high energy with my band, the NLR Experience… most hip hop acts do not use live bands. We mix a lot of elements of rock, funk and jazz into our shows, creating a unique experience.

Who and what influences your music?

The reason I started doing music is because I know how music affected and inspired me and I wanted to have that same affect on people who listen to my music, specifically kids. So that is always in the back of my mind…because it’s easy to make ratchet songs, it takes no effort. It’s really repetitive, it’s easy to do that and it would make things easier for me and everybody that works with me… but then I’m not going to be able to sleep at night knowing that I am putting out garbage that kids are listening to and living their lives to and that is just NOT okay. I want to be proud of my music.

There’s nothing I’ve created that I can’t go back to right now and be proud of.

There are so many artists that won’t even let their own children listen to their music and that says a lot. Every artist has a responsibility, it’s just a matter of whether or not you are willing to own up to that responsibility. That’s the nature of the music business and that’s why I am focused on remaining an independent artist because once you have a deal, a company can determine what you release and to some degree control your image. 

Have you been approached or persuaded to change your image at all? And how do you deal with that?

It happens often. Perfect example… I was approached at the Detroit Music Awards a few years back and someone invited me to a meeting where I was told that no one wants to hear the kind of music I make. That I was too young to have the content I had, and that I could save that for when I got older — “Get some male background dancers.” You have things like that and a lot of times you’ll see other women artists make it and they aren’t talking about anything, just using their bodies and that’s their whole package. You’ll see their success and think…

“What am I doing wrong?” and then realize, “Oh, I’m not doing that.” You have to really remind yourself why you’re doing music in the first place and who you’re doing it for.

 

What are your goals for your new projects?

We’ve been making waves on many different fronts, so just using that and taking the music and getting more exposure nationally and internationally…building our brand…really representing quality, authentic Detroit music. Not just what people hear in mainstream… there is so much talent here and we want to accurately represent that. We want to start touring in the fall, we will start building our shows soon. We will hit the west coast and southern states, and we will be performing at South by Southwest in March. Next year we will plan to make our way overseas to tour… being independent that requires a lot of planning and will take some time but definitely next year. Overall our goal is to get out of Detroit and really represent the city well.

In September, Rhodes and her band will be releasing a live album called “The NLR Experience” and re-releasing her first studio album “Against All Odds,” with updated live arrangements for many of the previously released tracks. Both albums will be available on all streaming services and available for purchase on iTunes.