Probably best known for lending her vocals to Lupe Fiasco’s 2008 single “Hip Hop Just Saved My Life,” Nikki Jean has spent years flying under the radar. Though she does not have the mainstream recognition she deserves just yet, it’s safe to say her days outside the spotlight are steadily coming to a close.
After touring with Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Rihanna and N.E.R.D. for over four months on the 2009 Glow in the Dark Tour, Nikki quickly got down to recording her own album. And while there are few young newcomers who are offered collaborations from music’s songwriting legends, once they got a glimpse of her talent, Nikki had the help of the greats.
Her July 12th debut, “Pennies In a Jar,” features songs co-penned by the phenomenal Burt Bacharach, Carole King and Carly Simon. As if that wasn’t enough of a stamp of approval, Nikki was given permission by producer Sam Hollander to complete an unfinished track meant for Bob Dylan 1980s album, “Shot of Love.” The decade crossing collab, “Steels and Feathers” has a scaled back vibe, steeped in the vein of the soul revival being led by artists such as Erykah Badu, Adele and Raphael Saadiq. With this single Nikki has given us a taste of what is to come and had gotten a nod of approval from more than a few Dylan fans as well.
Seeing Nikki’s solo success begin is a treat to watch mainly because we’ve been able to see her growth in just a few short years. The Minnesota native is not only a gorgeous talent, she is a humble one as well. I remember watching her YouTube video back when Lupe’s album “The Cool” dropped and with the final mix of “The “Hip Hop Just Saved My Life.” Seeing her unbridled excitement and reaction to hearing her voice on the radio, I instantly began rooting for her. She was just a down girl with a big voice that didn’t need an over produced track.
Now, as she steps out on her own Nikki is showing the world a more stripped down way to do soul. I can’t wait for what comes next as she bares it all.
What do you think of Nikki Jean’s “Steel and Feathers?” Tell us what you think Clutchettes- love it or leave it alone?