Nneka’s come a long way since performing as the opening act for Sean Paul. In fact, we can’t sense even a hint of empty lyrics about booty-shaking and windin’ up in her songs. There is a bit of reggae in the backdrop, though. Along with hip-hop, rock, soul, and Afro-beats, all working together to create one hell of an eargasm.
Singing mostly in English, with occasional riffs in her traditional Nigerian language of Igbo, Nneka delivers rich vocals and tons of emotion — all while looking tough as hell, but still approachable. Compare her to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu if you must, but labeling her the leader of the 2010 pack won’t hurt either. And it wouldn’t go without reason.
She recently toured across the country, finishing up in Chicago on Valentine’s Day, in support of her first U.S. release, “Concrete Jungle,” which is actually a compilation of her first two critically acclaimed European albums. (Much of her music heard in the U.S. has already been released in Europe and Africa, where Nneka is already a star, so it’s time the rest of us caught up.)
“Concrete Jungle” showcases Nneka as unafraid of bearing witness to hypocrisy and social and political injustice (source). The 2009 MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Award winner says,
“Nigeria is a tough place to grow up. Tribal wars, oil company exploitation, corrupt political leaders … I never really thought about becoming somebody; it was more about waking up with no pressure in a peaceful surrounding. But growing up like that has made me who I am.”
Nneka’s music is raw and sensual, as evidenced on lead single “The Uncomfortable Truth” (an iTunes Single of the Week).
“The Uncomfortable Truth”
“She brings a sociopolitical awareness rarely heard these days,” says air personality Garth Trinidad, of noncommercial KCRW Los Angeles. Trinidad made Nneka a featured performer at his January 30 Grammy Brunch in L.A. “People are starving for what she brings.”
We know we are. And you will be, too.
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