Are you tired of so-called artists singing about meaningless things? Well, let me introduce you to Nneka Egbuna. A Nigerian-German hip hop, reggae, soul singer and songwriter, making waves in the motherland and globally. Her music is anything but the norm. Nneka takes you to a place where no other artist can take you. I don’t quite know if it’s her soulful vocals or her thought-provoking lyrics that draws me into her music but this woman is extremely talented. In every song and video there’s a story to tell; the concepts are often derived from global issues such as poverty, war and capitalism.
Nneka first garnered public attention while performing as an opening act for Dancehall artist Sean Paul in 2004, at Hamburg Stadtpark. Her official debut came in 2005 with the release of her first single and EP “The Uncomfortable Truth”. Her first effort is described as “conscious” for touching on topics that are often avoided rather than being discussed openly, hence the title. After the release of the EP it didn’t take Nneka long before dropping her debut album “Victim of Truth” later in 2005. The album received positive reviews; UK’s Sunday Times called it “the year’s most criminally overlooked album”, and compared it to “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. She went on tour following the album’s release, performing at various summer festivals as well as opening for Gnarls Barkley, Bilal, and Femi Kuti.
In 2008, Nneka released her sophomore album titled “No Longer at Ease”. The album title is taken from a novel of the same name by Chinua Achebe, and features songs about political corruption. “No Longer at Ease” combines the political and the personal in “a winning mix of soul, hip-hop and reggae”. The lead single from the album, “Heartbeat”, became widely popular. The song was also Nneka’s first to enter the German Top 50, and in 2009 the UK Singles chart. She went on to support Lenny Kravitz on his French tour as well as performing around Europe on her own. Nneka was nominated for three Channel O Music Awards in 2009, and received a MOBO Award for Best African Act. In November 2009, she embarked on her first North American tour performing in New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. She released a compilation album titled “Concrete Jungle” in February 2010. The album, which was her first release in the U.S., included the singles “The Uncomfortable Truth” and “Heartbeat”. “Concrete Jungle” reached the top 20 on the U.S. Billboard Heatseekers chart. In June 2010, Nneka won the Reggae category of the Museke Online Africa Music Award for her single “Africa”. She was later invited on tour with Nas and Damian Marley in promotion of their collaboration album “Distant Relatives”. Nas also made an appearance on the remix of her hit single “Heartbeat”.
Nneka Egbuna is one of a kind. I love the fact that her boldness comes across in her music and she is forever unapologetic for her lyrics. Nneka puts forth her passion so effortlessly and that makes it obvious how talented she is. All I’ve been hearing lately are songs about sex and partying so it’s good to hear a “conscious” woman singing something with substance. Take a listen to one of my favorite songs below: