Not one to forget the eight years he lived in Miami, New York rapper Nickel is holding two CD-release parties, one here and one up there. The occasion is his debut LP, The Journey of Plato the Orphan, 65 minutes of head-jerking beats and nervously clever flows hammering out a conceptual story. His stuff is seriously clever, mesmerizing, and fueled by a love for his art that knows no bounds. In real life, he's a soft-spoken kid who guards his words, the diametric opposite of the hard-charging type he transforms into when a mike is in his hand.

To Nickel, "real hip-hop" happens when the MC is speaking from his heart, not from his or her empty pocket. "I see my music as a continuation of where hip-hop was in the mid- to late Nineties, before it made its drastic commercial turn. There's a whole movement of us out there right now who never took to what the radio has been giving us when it comes to rap." Like the rest of this nu-backpack crowd, he's got zero tolerance for bling 'n' booty posturing: "Keep that cookie-cutter bullshit you've been putting out in the hard drive. It's pollution."



With Brimstone127 and the Brass King. Thursday, May 22. Tobacco Road, 626 S. Miami Ave., Miami. Show starts at 9 p.m.; tickets cost $5. 305-374-1198,

The record is self-released and available through Internet stops such as Lyrical cameos were contributed by Discrete, of Miami group Aboriginal, as well as Citizen Kane and Dik Daztardly from Nickel's crew, the Money Hungry Ba$tard$.

The Ba$tard$ will remain holed up in New York for the Tobacco Road show, but Giogrephy and some surprise guests will be there to lend a few lines. It's Nickel's first solo show at The Road, where he played before with his old crew The Linx. "What I love about The Road is just being a part of the history," he says. "It's a legendary venue. My man Oski takes good care of you too. He only brings in acts that are cultivating music that's special. It's an honor to be part of that."


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