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In February, Lil Niqo played an international rugby tournament at Petco Park that included teams from 16 countries. The rapper – a third-grader at Pepper Drive elementary in Santee – has had a few good breaks in his career. His mom, Nique Heard, worked in artist development at La Face/BMG Records in Atlanta from 1993 until 1997.

“I help him make sense,” says Nique, admitting she helps her eight-year-old son Nicholas write his positive “no cussin’ and no fussin’ ” lyrics.

“I like Bow Wow,” says Lil Niqo. “He raps that you don’t have to do no drug-dealing nonsense to be successful. People who say they are killing people and doing drugs [in rap] are just showin’ off. It isn’t true.”

Nique and Niqo and his two younger brothers moved back to San Diego because of the availability of specialized surgeons.

“[Niqo] has CIP, or chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction,” says Nique. “He’s had six surgeries to date. It isn’t something you can just go in and fix.”

She says kids Niqo’s age usually weigh 80 pounds but that Niqo weighs in at 53.

Lil Niqo says he won’t rap about the mean kids at school.

“I do get mad, but I don’t want to show it on them. Then they are gonna think they are the role model and that they can be more mean.”

Lil Niqo has recorded ten songs for Kids Rap Radio, Vol. 3, a CD series of popular hits remade by preteen artists. The album, due out by August, is distributed by Music World/Sony Records. To see a Lil Niqo video, go to myspace.com/lilniqo.

– Ken Leighton

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