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Nneka Brings Global Soul to Our NYC Office

Nneka Nigerian artist Nneka came a long way to take her first trip to New York City, but her recent visit was well worth the effort. In lieu of the upcoming release of a new record in February, the singer had the chance to make her live US debut, and was also invited to perform with the Roots. While she was in town, Nneka — who has garnered comparisons to Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu, and already has a large following in Africa and Europe — also stopped by the office to talk with, and play a few tunes for, the BoomBox.

“New York is cold, but it’s nice,” Nneka told the BoomBox. “Nice people, very loud, very inspiring. The only thing that I don’t like is that the sun does not come to you because of the skyscrapers … I think that affects the brains and the minds of the people here. I think for those who live here, it’s quite difficult having a connection to nature, which I think is actually very necessary.”

Having grown up in Nigeria and attended university in Germany — where her relationship with music developed — Nneka’s writings have a naturally global outlook. Balancing her music and her education wasn’t the easiest task, but Nneka was ambitious enough to pull it off.

“I think I kind of intimidated professors. I’d come into class with my guitar, and they’d be like … ‘You need to decide what you want. Are you going to do music, or are you doing university?’ I’m like, ‘I have to pay my university. I have to do my music to pay.’”

Watch Nneka’s ‘The Uncomfortable Truth’ Video

Germany first gave Nneka the platform to express herself with music. It was there that she began to take her words and weave them in with soulful vocals and melodies, but it was also the place that allowed her to reconnect with her Nigerian heritage.

“I never knew what racism was before I went out of my country,” Nneka said. “I never knew anything about my color until I came out of Nigeria and stepped into Germany. And then I’m like, ‘Wow, I thought I was half white.’ I became more African than ever. I read more books about Africa, I got to know more about my culture, I got myself involved in all sorts of movements. It’s like they gave me my identity.”

Nneka currently has overseas tour dates set, and her new album, ‘Concrete Jungle,’ will be available on Feb. 2.

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Nneka Visits the BoomBox
Nneka visits the BoomBox on November 16, 2009.

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