‘Rude Boy’ Writer Ester Dean on Penning Hits for Rihanna, Usher
If you are attempting to avoid Ester Dean, good luck. Over the past year, the in-demand singer/songwriter has been an omnipresent fixture on radio and video music channels penning songs for a diverse roster of acts that include Rihanna ('Rude Boy'), Robin Thicke ('Sex Therapy') and Nicki Minaj ('Super Bass.') Indeed, the Oklahoma native, who is currently riding high with two of the biggest songs in the country -- Katy Perry's 'Firework' and Rihanna's 'What's My Name?' feat. Drake -- is still getting used to the spoils of stardom and her new commercial success.
"Working with Rihanna has been great," Dean glowed of the platinum, controversial it-girl to The BoomBox. "When I write for her, I live in her attitude. I recall being in the studio with [production team] Stargate and my friend Tracy who helped me write 'What's My Name?' I was just having fun. We were building something beautiful without knowing if it was going to sell. But that's the best part about it."
Dean continues of her strong artistic connection with RiRi: "She's just fierce. When I'm in the recording booth and I'm wining it up on 'Rude Boy,' I'm channeling who she is. I think Rihanna is sexy and will say things that other chicks won't say. Even if she says let's go kiss some girls, who really cares ... that's Rihanna. Music is about fantasy. This is what people want to do, but are afraid to do. My sex life is much more prude than the sex life I write about [laughs]. I use Rihanna's alter ego as inspiration. That's why people loved 'Rude Boy' because that sound wasn't out. The fans are tired of the same old things. People are thirsty for something that's new."
Another song that has garnered Dean major notice is the sexy Usher hit 'Hot Tottie,' a track that features larger-than-life hip-hop great Jay-Z. However, Dean says she was shocked when she heard the finished product. "Usher is a real good friend of mine," Dean says of the R&B veteran. "I went to Jamaica with him and the guys. We are out there hanging out and one his boys ask me, 'You heard Usher's new song 'Hot Tottie?' And I had never heard of that song before. I knew we recorded some stuff with Usher, but that was all. I didn't even know Jay-Z was on it and I didn't know my vocals were going to make the track. To tell you the truth, I didn't even remember recording the song [laughs]."
As for future projects, Dean is set to head back in the studio with Rihanna and has just finished cutting songs with hip-hop soul icon Mary J. Blige. "We are doing some great songs," says Dean, who was awarded with five Grammy nods for her work with Usher, Perry, Chris Brown and Monica. "Working with great artists like Mary makes the [process] easy. I love what I do."
Watch Rihanna's 'What's My Name?'