By Dave Rossetti   Published Feb 23, 2005 at 5:19 AM

{image1} When it comes to seeking out rap hotspots and untapped talent, most people -- agents and fans alike -- automatically look to America's coasts for the next big thing. And in light of the recent success of Chicagoans Kanye West and Twista, the Windy City may be finding its way onto the rap world's radar.

But local rapper Goldigga, who counts Nas and female rappers Lil' Kim and Lady of Rage as some of her biggest influences, says she hopes to get Milwaukee's underground rap scene some accolades while making a name for herself on the national stage. She's performed around the country, including Jay-Z's 40/40 Club in New York, but the rapper says people impressed by her venomous rhymes and stage show sometimes freeze her out when she says she's a Milwaukee native.

"Sometimes I front and say I'm from Chicago," says Goldigga, aka Nikki Harrison. "When you say 'Milwaukee,' they automatically put a screen up to you."

However, Goldigga, who releases her second EP "Who Do I Trust ... Me!" at an album-release party slated to begin at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Mecca Lounge, 3801 W. Hampton Ave., isn't ashamed of her Milwaukee roots. She discovered her passion for writing and word play after joining Poetic Justice, a literature club, while a student at Vincent High School.

"It kinda just came naturally to me," she says. "I was always into literature, words, which is all rap is really -- just putting the words together and just rhyming."

It took Goldigga a while to turn her passion into a career. She says she quit her job as an adult entertainer seven or eight years ago after her co-workers, having heard her rap during downtime, encouraged her to stop stripping and start rapping.

Goldigga made the move, but local success didn't come easily -- or quickly. She spent much of the next few years putting her name out there any way she could, and did so mainly by working at her lyrics, polishing her delivery and seeking free studio time.

Eventually, Goldigga released her first EP, "Lavish," in February 2004, and managed to sell about 300 or 400 copies on her own, she says.

Goldigga's growing reputation caught the attention of Antonio Greer, proprietor of artist management agency Club V.I.P Music Group, last December, and the two set about putting together the new EP.

Goldigga says "Who Do I Trust ... Me!" is a vast improvement over her last release.

"My beats are more industry standard, my lyrics are better than the last (EP), and I'm coming with a Midwest/South sound," she says. Greer -- who invested his support in Goldigga to the tune of 10,000 pre-ordered copies of "Who Do I Trust ... Me!" -- says he'd like to see Goldigga be one of the first Milwaukee rappers to step onto the national stage. He'd also love to see her stay in the limelight, like few Milwaukee-bred rappers do, he says.

Goldigga, who's a regular performer at the Mecca Lounge as well as Quarters and The Lyrics, says she'd like the same result -- mainly for the sake of her three children.

"I'm ultimately doing this for them," she says. "They drive me."

For more information on Goldigga or to check on her availability to perform at an event, call Antonio Greer at (414) 234-1732.