By Josh Hertzog   Published Jun 15, 2005 at 5:18 AM

{image1}Grabbing the mic and giving it all he's got, up-and-coming hip-hop artist Ray Nitti has been turning heads and creating a solid fan base by touring with Milwaukee R&B artist Cincere.

"It's been really fun, and I appreciate Cincere's support," the 21-year-old Nitti says. "It's good exposure for me, and we basically do the set together."

Nitti, a Riverside graduate, has a single, titled "Let Me See You," off his in-the-works album, due out in fall. Nitti calls it an uptempo club-type song. Think 50 Cent, without the swearing. You can find the song on's free summer music sampler CD, "OMCD_0.10," released next week.

Nitti's musical roots extend beyond the United States. Born and raised in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, Nitti was exposed mainly to reggae. When he got to America in 1998, he was ready for something new.

{image2}"I wanted to try out hip-hop, and it's been fun so far," Nitti says. "I've only been rapping for a year now, but I'm surprised at all the lovin' I'm getting. It's hard to get recognized when people are used to getting trash, but I seem to be providing good entertainment for them."

Nitti first started writing poetry and then discovered that his work could be transformed into music.

In addition to working on his debut album -- tentatively titled "Prince of the City" -- Nitti has also participated in rock the mic battles at The Amistad in Milwaukee and is helping out with V100's Jams for Peace.

But, he says, his greatest musical moment came when he met two of hip-hop's most successful artists.

"I helped out with the Vote or Die campaign and met P. Diddy and Mary J. Blige," Nitti says. "It was cool to meet both of them."