Season 3 'The Rap Game' winner Nova: 'I was built for this type of competition'

This was posted Tuesday, April 11, 2017 by Rodney Ho/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Nova grew up in poverty in Reading, Pa., spending time in a homeless shelter. Rather than let that drive him into hopelessness, he used his situation as motivation to get him to where he is now: season 3 winner of Lifetime's "The Rap Game" and a signed artist on Jermaine Dupri's So So Def Records.

"I was built for this type of competition," Nova said in an interview Monday after his victory was revealed that previous Friday.

Despite the pressures inherent in any reality competition show, Nova didn't get ruffled. He was able to shape his suave, "ladies' man" image. He learned not to get overconfident, which is what happened during the rap battle against King Roscoe of Atlanta. He lost that challenge, he said, because he under-estimated his competition. "I feel I can lose in order to win," he said.

That loss drove him to focus on ensuring his final performance at the Buckhead Theatre that aired this past Friday was on point. He was intense, energetic and lyrical. He gave roses to the ladies in the front row as a strategic way to "get them amped up before I killed them with the rest of the performance." It worked. Dupri was impressed.

He said since the competition ended, he has been recording music and prepping for the tour that begins next month and stops at Wolf Creek Amphitheatre June 22. (Buy tickets here for $25 to $165). He will be joined by past contestants including King Roscoe, Deetranada, Prince of New York, Lil Key, Supa Peach and past winners Miss Mulatto and Mani.

Tally, who quit before the season finale, generated most of the drama this season. ("She does her own thing," Nova said diplomatically. "That's my sister.") Once she left, it was clear the other four kids and their coaches/guardians got along.

Nova also had nothing but deep respect for  Dupri. "He's music hungry just like me," he said. "I always want to make music and always want to be in the studio. That's how he is, too."

He also had a thick skin when it came to Dupri's critiques because he's hungry to learn. He focused his eye on the big prize, absorbing like a sponge tips about fashion, image, about production, marketing and PR and stage performance. His favorite moment was performing at the Sweet Auburn Festival. He struggled with his verses in rehearsal, then hit the mark live. And he was in awe meeting Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter Bernice in front of the civil rights legend's tomb.

He already has two singles out "Go Harder" and "Riding My Wave."

Nova wants to go deeper in his lyrics than a lot of what he hears now. He doesn't just want to focus on partying and material possessions. He also wants to represent his hometown of Reading: "I wanted to get on the show and show kids you can chase your dream no matter what obstacles you face."

If he goes to college, he'd like to learn music production. "I want to be able to record my own music," he said. "And if that doesn't work out, I'd like to go into acting. I was always into the arts. I am also interested in stage production."

Ultimately, he hopes he can earn enough money to get his family into a nicer home in a nicer neighborhood. "I want to win Grammys and be on the pop charts. I want to go platinum!"

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.