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Nickatina addiction

Long-time Bay-area rapper Andre Nickatina aims to keep it simple.

Don’t look to others — look to yourself. Keep things simple. Maintain focus. Rapper Andre Nickatina’s mantra is equal parts Sun Tzu warrior and soothing Martha Stewart.

“If people show up, that’s all I care about,” Nickatina said. “If the spot is packed, it looks alright to me.”

Nickatina’s trajectory was a natural evolution from an always rhyming young man growing up in the Fillmore District of San Francisco to a 43-year-old, laid-back icon with a distinctive baritone and lauded production quality.

“I was mainly a rap cat putting rhymes together, and getting on stage just came with the territory,” Nickatina said. “Like a point guard dribbling with both hands, you got to do it.”

It’s an appropriate metaphor for the daily sports gambler.

“I got money on every game tonight — hockey, Bulls-Nets,” Nickatina said.

He and his associates even put sports video games on demo mode and gamble on outcomes.

But listen to the clever street metaphors and detailed descriptions, and this pastime makes sense — and maybe a few ducats on the side.

Some people lose a sense of reality’s grittiness when success comes a-knockin’, and the need for lyrics persists.

But that’s deeper than it needs to be. Nickatina stresses, if that’s possible for him, that he’s just doing him and rolling with the punches.

“I just want to show up, have a good time, get the money and run,” Nickatina said. “I’m waking up every day, same as everybody else — wake up, go to the bathroom, smoke a joint.”

A blunt isn’t a prop, it’s just Andre. The refreshing thing about Nickatina is the lack of affectation. Even if he’s spittin’ about common hip-hop fare, like strippers or drugs, he doesn’t emit that immature frontin’ vibe that comes with some mainstream chain-danglers.

“Being around 20 years, you hear a bunch of stuff like people coming in saying ‘I’m gonna change the game,’” Nickatina said. “They are saying that, but they [expletive] work at McDonald’s. I ain’t trying to change the game, change the rules, jump in no pools or be no fool.”

The spotlight comes with what he does. If he wasn’t a rapper, Nickatina professes he’d work behind the scenes as a porn mogul.

While he hasn’t had a studio album in a few years, Nickatina kept up with singles and 2012’s “Where’s My Money” mixtape.

Joining Nickatina on tour are Mumbls and Roach Gigz, providing the opportunity to see a new generation of the Bay’s finest. Toki Wright and St. Paul Slim round out the set list.

What: Andre Nickatina

When: 8 p.m., Thursday

Where: Fine Line Music Cafe, 318 N. First Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: $17 in advance; $20 day of show

Age: 18+

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