Were she not a musician, Nneka might have made an excellent investigative journalist. Or perhaps she’d have been a philosopher. In truth, an element of both those disciplines informs her art. Because throughout her third album, Soul Is Heavy, Nneka constantly asks questions. She interrogates friends, her Nigerian countrymen, politicians, God, the universe… and, most importantly, she questions herself.
“It wouldn’t make any sense if I only pointed fingers,” she admits. Her music and attitude are probing, even confrontational, yet never didactic. “It’s important that you recognize yourself as part of the system, too, and that the only way we can make things work is by realizing we are part of the same entity
“I’m always having little battles in my mind,” she continues, apropos of the struggles that shape her work. Everybody has their existential quandaries, but most people are content to wake up, go to work, have a few beers and play some video games in the evening, and watch the world go by. Not Nneka. “I’m the kind of person who always questions things. It has a lot to do with the way I brought up, and my surroundings.”
Born and raised in Warri, in the Delta region of Nigeria, Nneka Egbuna watched as the city and its citizens wrestled with the impact of new-found affluence. Three decades later, electrical blackouts are still a part of daily life in Nigeria, an oil-rich nation plagued by petrol shortages, where tribalism and disparity of wealth and political power further entrench divisions of class. “All that has a lot to do with why I am the way I am, despite the fact that I have now been able to travel a great deal, and see the world from a different angle.”
At the age of 19, Nneka left Africa to Hamburg University, where she studied anthropology even as her musical career was building steam. With its marriage of timeless grooves, contemporary technology, and 21st century black consciousness, her 2005 debut Victim Of Truth was lauded by the British press. “As good as The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” trumpeted The Sunday Times. Its 2008 follow-up, No Longer At Ease, impressed rock star Lenny Kravitz so profoundly that he immediately tapped her to accompany him on tour. In 2010, selections from both albums—including the international hit “Heartbeat”—were compiled for her US debut, Concrete Jungle, which showed North America what the rest of the world already knew: Nneka is a unique, formidable talent to be reckoned with.
Nneka – Book of Job (Music & lyrics: Nneka Egbuna, Mounir Maarouf, Blaise Batisse). Book of Job is first single from her forthcoming album MY FAIRY TALES.