Meet Nick, a hip-hop artist, dancer, artistic director, and student. Nick is very connected to Ottawa’s dance and hip-hop music scene; he just released his first few studio-recorded tracks as SORU (scroll down to the end of the post to listen to a track and find out how you can download the whole thing), and is in the process of recording his debut album.

Right. Well, my full name is Nicolas-Henri. I’m fully Lebanese by blood, but I was born and raised here in Ottawa, so I have a strong love of the city.

I’m studying Interactive Multi-Media Design at Carleton University, which is a joint program with Algonquin College. I’m hoping that one day if I get a job through that I can eventually become a Video Game Director – that would be my dream as far as a career. I’ve also been dancing for… well, I guess it’s going on my sixth year now. I was introduced to an organization called Culture Shock by a friend, to one of their youth dance troupes – Future Shock – and I’ve been with them ever since. I’m currently the Artistic Director of Culture Shock Ottawa.

It’s a lot of… urban dance, I guess? It’s fair to call it urban dance because we do hip hop, but there’s also breaking, popping and locking, and a lot of other styles. The media bundles it under the word “hip hop,” even though that’s not technically correct.

I do music as well – I sing, rap and write. My artist name – my alias as a dancer and artist – is SORU. It’s an acronym that I created – it stands for “Someone of Real Ulteriority.” It basically means that there’s a lot more below the surface. You can decide to judge me based on what I’m wearing or how I’m talking but there’s more than meets the eye.

What’s your perception of the  music industry here in Ottawa?

Well, the most mainstream artist in Ottawa is probably Belly, and then there’s Danny Fernandez. He’s from Toronto, but he’s signed to Capital Profit Records, which is Ottawa-based. There are a lot of producers doing big things around here, you just have to know where to look.

I’m fortunate enough to be part of a group of amazing musicians called DeadRinger. Composed of my great friends and talented dudes Real Raw, Sean Blake, Joe Nativv, Young B, Nakiem & Tony. The first three I mentioned also have a band called Bars & Tone that just released an amazing original album, which I’m also featured on.

There’s a lot of potential in Ottawa. There will always be a studio to record at in Ottawa, just like there will always be artists in the streets. Just because it’s not on the front page of the newspaper or not in the blogs doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I know a lot of really, really talented people in the city, a lot of great artists, but you have to dig to find them. Slowly but surely they’re starting to surface. I’d like to have the chance to feel like I’m one of them.

Do you feel like living in Ottawa has influenced you as an artist?

You’re always a product of your environment, right? Without a doubt it has influenced me. Every city you visit, every country, no matter where you are, will have its own style, its own flavor. Ottawa has its own thing, for sure, but it’s hard to put a label on it, especially since we’re so influenced by everything around us.

It’s really friendly here, and I respond to that. I think people who come here are caught off guard by how easy it is to just approach someone you don’t know.  I like to smile, I like to be happy – even if I don’t have a reason to. It might sound cheesy, but I live for today. I’m a very passionate person, and if there is one thing I believe it’s that you have to really feel what you do. If you don’t put feeling into it, it’s not worth doing. If you’re dancing, or making music, put your heart and soul into it and it will be reflected in your product. That’s my own philosophy, but a part of that comes from how Ottawa has influenced me: I see passionate, creative people and I want to be a part of it. It’s an exciting time for this city.

Thank you, Nick! Listen to a track from Nick’s mixtape below. You can download the whole thing on his Soundcloud, Facebook, or HotNewHipHop pages. Nick can also be found on YouTube, and on Twitter at @nicksoru.