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The sound of Nneka makes you want to dance.  The sound of Nneka makes you want to sing.  The sound of Nneka makes you want to fight for what’s right. The sound of Nneka makes you proud to be a fan.  The mixture of afro-pop, Nigerian groove, soul, folk and rap makes this new artist’s American debut album, Concrete Jungle, one of the most exciting projects of 2010.

I had the enjoyable experience of chatting with Nneka a few weeks ago, as she was in Nigeria, preparing for her US tour to promote the album that comes out today.  I was on skype — she was on the celly — and in the background, her band was rockin’ out.  I could hardly hear her for the first five minutes, as her band was rehearsing and it seemed like no matter where she went, the grooves wouldn’t quiet down.  While I wanted to make sure I could hear her, I also was enjoying the sounds of the band in the background. 

Tell me about your inspirations for your album ‘Concrete Jungle’?

I am inspired in general by life that’s what I can tell you, life, pain, misery, people around me happiness sadness. It’s a collection of my feelings in the last 4 years.

What have been some of your greatest challenges in the last years?

First of all, to release an album wasn’t my goal at all.  It is something I thought I would never do.  I never thought I would go into music professionally or have more than one person listen to me.

People started taking me very serious all of a sudden. I never had the opportunity to stand on stage and sing before. It is very different from how I grew up in Nigeria I was a very shy, quiet person and now music has made me more outgoing, more open, and more confident to speak my truth.

What did you think you’d be growing up in Nigeria?
I just wanted to stay alive, I never thought I’d be anything; I just wanted peace in my life, I just wanted peace around me.

When you go to sleep at night now, what goes through your mind when you think about your experiences?

At the end of the day whatever it is you do, whether it is music or selling oranges or a teacher or a physician, it is important to spread that positive energy to people.  That is what life is all about. You can be very rich and still have nothing.

Let’s talk about Africa for a moment.  What can Africa do as a continent to make the necessary steps forward?

We need to take more responsibility.  Well, of course they colonized us and dealing with oppression from the west coming into Africa, and we are in colonization’s mentality where we can’t get rid of, it is stopping our progress, and it is keeping ourselves down and suppresses us. It is time for us to take things into our own hands. Nigeria is changing.  At least Africa is changing.  It is a positive movement going on.

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