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Niqoles Dhani Heard-Goodwin, whose stage name is Lil’ Niqo, has been performing since he was 10. The Santee boy, now 16, is competing on Lifetime TV’s “The Rap Game” for a recording contract.— Courtesy of Nique Heard
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It’s a rap: A 16-year-old Santee rapper is getting his shot at fame as one of five contestants starring in Lifetime TV’s new eight-week reality competition, “The Rap Game.”

Queen LatifahCQ is executive producer, and Jermaine Dupri CQ vows to launch the career of one into the stratosphere. The winner gets a recording contract with his So So Def Recordings.

“Lil’ Niqo” Heard, born in Southeast San Diego, has been entertaining since he was 10. When Dupri invited him to compete, Lil’ Niqo already had worked with 50 Cent, chalked up 3.5 million YouTube hits and co-hosted red carpet gigs for BET and MTV.

“I was shocked for them to reach out to me,” said Niqo, whose real name is Niqoles Dhani Heard-Goodwin.CQ

The rapper boot camp airs at 10 p.m. Fridays through Feb. 19. Among the challenges: write and record a verse to another composer’s song; spend $30 at a resale shop to create a “look”; and perform a duet with another singer.

The eight-week shoot in Atlanta was also a challenge for Nique Heard,CQ Niqo’s mother and manager. As a single parent, she had to hire a nanny to care for her two younger sons back in Santee.

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