Dakota Unique

Dakota Unique

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Local rapper Dakota Unique West displayed her musical talents recently on VH1's competitive reality show "Signed."

"I saw (an advertisement) for it online and I applied for it," said West, about how she got involved in the show. "They contacted me and then had to fly me out for an audition in the front of the moguls."

"Signed" features music mogels Lenny S of Roc Nation, Rick Ross of Maybach Music Group and The Dream of Radio Killa Records who throughout the course of the show search for talented hip-hop and R & B artists whom they can sign to their labels. The moguls assist in developing the artists' talents and offer workshops, feedback and performance opportunities as the whittle down the number of contestants in the competition.

West, who was recently eliminated from the show, said her experience on "Signed" was rewarding.

"(It was great) being in front of the moguls and getting feedback on your songs. It's every rapper's dream to get signed," the East Chicago resident said.

West, 19, said she took away meaningful advice from the moguls.

"Just because I didn't get signed doesn't mean I didn't get 'developed,' " she said. "I learned a lot from everyone."

West, a graduate of Central High School in East Chicago, said she was bitten by the rap bug as a kid in middle school. She and her cousin would rap together at that time. West later bought software so she could record herself.

The young rapper's inspiration for her art and reaching for a musical dream involves her family.

"It has a lot to do with my brother and my mom," she said. Her mother is a local hairdresser who encourages her to keep going.

"And my brother loves music. He has autism and he doesn't talk. But if a song comes on, he'll rap. It's like he and I are talking."

West said many of her East Chicago fans voted for her as she competed on "Signed" and she was grateful for the support.

The rapper said she currently doesn't have any other plans for other shows or projects, but, "Stay tuned for that."

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Eloise writes about food and entertainment for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight children in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.