On melodic rap phenomenon Cico P’s breakout single “Tampa,” he smoothly glides from verses to hook with a confidence and swagger that few possess in the current hip-hop landscape. The 23-year-old Jacksonville, Texas native is rising up the ranks as a promising new upstart with a mission to add his own charismatic flavor to hip-hop. As Cico readies his upcoming single “Boogie,” he aims to win fans over with his smooth voice and versatile style.
Coming up in Jacksonville, Texas (or “Nawf Jaxx” as he puts it), there was always a mission to dare to be different. “I can’t speak for other states, but Texas is a different breed, when it comes to originality,” he explains. Cico was raised with music all around him, as his grandfather was in a band, his uncle was a rapper, his cousin is a singer, and both of his parents were avid music fans. “Music has always been in my life,” he adds. “I’ve just always been around it.” It was through his father that he learned about Texas artists like UGK and the Swisha House roster, mixed with 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, DMX, and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, while his mom introduced him to R&B acts like Omarion, Tyrese, and 112. That combination of hard raps and melodies inspired him to make his own music.
A skilled athlete, Cico played football, which he credits has sharpened his discipline and work ethic in music. “You gotta stay focused when you play sports,” he explains, “so once I started hittin’ the studio it was almost like the playing field for me.” While in school, he also played the drums, though found himself leaving the percussion section for the school choir. “Back in sixth grade, it was much cooler to be in band,” he says with a laugh, “but I left. Choir was where it was at.” After graduation, Cico spent his first year in college road-tripping with his friends to attend all of the parties scattered across Texan colleges and universities. “It was like we were students of every school,” he jokes. He was dabbling in music, working with a local group and figuring out his moves, cutting his own tracks casually along the way.
However, a series of tragedies back to back put the battery in his back that he had to fulfill his purpose in music. “Within a year, I lost three people,” he expresses. “Death changes you when you watch people close to you pass.”
These losses were the impetus for Cico to pursue something greater. “I had too many people who knew I had the music in me, believed in me, and told if I stayed focused I would make it,” he continues. “Now they ain’t here no more. I have this gift, I have to share it. It’s bigger than me.” So, Cico made it a point to go harder than before, trading in odd jobs for the full-time hustle in music. “I put all my cards on the table, there was no Plan B,” he says matter-of-factly. “I had to take a leap of faith.”
He started recording in local studios, cutting tracks on the regular. Cico dropped his first project Sweet Union in 2019, fueled by the song “Tampa,” which has nothing to do with Florida, despite his hometown sharing the same name as a Floridian geotag. “I named the track ‘Tampa’ because it’s the last word of the song,” he explains. “That’s something I was doing, where I would title my songs with the last line I rapped.” Eventually, “Tampa” found its way to TikTok at the top of 2021, which gave the song new life and only broadened Cico’s fan base. He’s now setting the stage for the July release of his upcoming project Nawf Jaxx.
The first offering is the cut “Boogie,” an upbeat fun track which is a strong shift away from the “Tampa” rapper’s viral style. “I like switching it up,” he says with a smile. “I’m a slick talker, so a lot of what I say in my songs, you have to listen more than once to grab. With ‘Boogie,’ I’m just trying to have some fun, but I’m still talking my shit.” Nawf Jaxx will be full of more melodies, while also showing Cico’s sharp lyrical skills, still a nod to his earliest influences of the balance between rapping and singing. In 2019, Cico co-founded Dawg Ties Entertainment, his own label which houses his music and those of other artists. The goal is to keep building on his movement and bring others with him. He cites hip-hop entrepreneurs like Diddy and Dr. Dre as sources of inspiration. “Growing up, I watched my mom have multiple jobs to keep us fed, so the hustle is in me,” he says. “I’m not stopping until I reach the finish line.”
For Cico P, his move to level up comes from the determination that there’s no room to fail. “There ain’t no ‘just in case’ for me, that’s how I look at it,” he says with sincerity. “God’s got me and so does my family.” As he enters the next phase in his career, he maintains his mission in music. “This ain’t no competition to me,” he adds. “I’m just trying to be the best I can be.”