Picked to Click 2017 No. 5: Nick Jordan

Nick Jordan

Nick Jordan Peter Jamus

The future doesn’t freak Nick Jordan out.

Not only did the 23-year-old R&B artist graduate last year from the University of St. Thomas, but he acquired a bonus education along the way: a master’s in swag from MTV’s Making the Band.

Jordan and his backup dancers watch the ’00s reality show religiously, and even gave a shout-out to professor Puff Daddy via “Bet (Diddy Said),” a dreamy, synth-loaded track off August’s Dividends EP.

“Diddy—and you can make fun of him—has some really profound statements!” Jordan says, singling out his favorite Making the Band mantra: Don’t dance in the back. “If I’m gonna be wrong, I’m gonna be strong and wrong—I don’t dance in the back.”

That confidence isn’t misplaced. This very publication named Jordan the best R&B act of 2016. Then, in March, he won the Star Tribune’s Are You Local? best-new-band contest. Jordan’s victory-lap set at the Turf Club was a joyously choreographed, turnt-up revelation: How could an act so green perform with such supreme showmanship?

“I have a desire to spread light; I have a strong dedication to be true to myself, to actually being it—the real deal, musicianship,” says Jordan, who wrangles his own production (with assists from collaborator LukDlx), songwriting, and choreography. “I think when you see me live, the passion is palpable. I don’t think you’d ever be like, ‘Maybe he should do something else.’”

The seeds of Jordan’s kinetic yet emotionally vulnerable music were planted in tiny Delano, Minnesota. That’s where he sang Jell-o jingles before he could even talk, according to his hard-working single mom, and where he developed a love for theater and ’00s-era radio jams—Brandy, the Neptunes, Jill Scott.

“In terms of being black, queer, and having big dreams about music, you grow up not seeing yourself reflected in anything around you,” Jordan says of his exurban childhood. “I have really big dreams—I have international-level dreams.”

Armed with a music-biz degree, Jordan maintains a keen awareness of his career arc. He dominated Minnesota’s new-music award circuit, though he doesn’t want to splash around in our small pond forever. The next step? Constructing a team.

“A one-man army burns out so quickly,” Jordan admits. Taking cues from his empire-building TV mentor Diddy, he’s currently seeking management, PR, and studio pros to maximize the next album cycle. Dancing in the back is not part of the equation.

“I have a manifestation journal, and I have big dreams,” Jordan says. “Typically, when I write them, they come true.”

Click here to check out the rest of the list, or click here to read about Sass, who ranked No. 6 on Picked to Click.