Nivea wrote many of the songs on her new project and had plenty from which to draw for lyrical inspiration. “I went through a bunch of changes [over the last two years],” she reveals, adding that the new album is “much more relatable, especially for women. They’ll listen to it and be like ‘Girl, me too!’” It presents a mix of party records and ballads, which she has an affinity for. “I love slow songs. It’s actually more of a challenge to sing as fast song, for me. I’m more soulful anyway. To just hold out a note and scream through a song, that’s me.” Her most personal story is a song called “No More.” Reflecting on the period during which she wrote it, she says, “I was fed up at one point. My family was going through it. I was going through it. It was kind of like that release record.” The lead single “Okay,” re-teams Nivea with Lil’ Wayne and a remix version features Lil’ John and The Young Bloodz. “I love it,” Nivea says of the latter track. “It’s real Southern.”
We interview Nivea!
Hip: I remember interviewing you eons ago—a lot has changed.
Nivea: It has—Oh my God yes.
Are you worried about needing to reintroduce yourself?
I feel like it’s a good thing. It’s almost like a first chance. It’s my second time but its being treated as a brand new thing—its good for me.
How much has changed for you musically?
It’s changed because the sound and music is different. My voice has changed but it’s on a different tip than the first album. It’s a whole collection of topics that I talk about on this album. The first album was more pop with some R&B in it but this is more of an R&B record.
You had the record out and recorded it before that so you were how old?
I was fourteen and I’ll be twenty-three in a few days (that birthday passed on the 24th of March).
How much has changed with you being more involved?
Now I’m learning the craft rather than going in there and doing stuff and hoping it comes out right. I’ve been fortunate to have people that help me learn what I do.
Did you go in with the desire to have more input?
Not in the beginning, honestly no. But towards the end I wanted more. I originally went in and recorded a lot of songs but they weren’t good enough to be on an album. So we went back and ended up redoing songs at the top of the year. So the new songs are the ones that are on the album.
Was it good or was it pressure to have to go in and record basically a new record in a short amount of time?
It was both. It was good that I was able to work with Dream, he wrote “Okay” and “Complicated” and other few more like “Breathe.” We did a remix and it is so, so hot. They came together—it was a shocker because we went in to do one and it was like, “hey…”
You sound excited when discussing those tracks.
Because they are hot (we laugh). They sounded a lot better than the other tracks that we had. I’m glad we didn’t have to use the older material.
Is the record titled Complicated because of the song title or does it have more meaning than that?
When you go through something hard and bad life can be complicated in a bad way but the song talks about how love doesn’t have to be complicated or a difficult thing. Love isn’t complicated at all.
When I first saw that Complicated was the album title I thought maybe it had to do with you being older and you were a lot more complicated than you were when you started.
I’m a woman and I’m coming from a woman’s mindset on this album and a lot of the songs topic-wise are complicated. I am complicated, but so are all women.
As a singer what do you think about American Idol?
I don’t know. It does seem a little unfair. It’s kind of funny, too. I’m crying on the floor sometimes. It is good and cool sometimes. It’s great for the winner; it’s a great opportunity for the winner.
The winner has a built in audience already.
Yeah, they give you the right set up. I don’t know that it is unfair, but if you win you are straight.
Do you mean that it’s almost unfair because they don’t pay their dues?
Yeah, that’s what we call it… because they don’t have to go through that. There is no such thing is an overnight success and every artist has stories of how they got there and what they had to go through. Just because the public just heard about us doesn’t mean we are new—we’ve been around for a minute. They get to skip that part although some on the show say they’ve been trying to do it for many years.
During the time you weren’t recording did you take a break?
Yeah I did. I was kind of overwhelmed and had a lot of drama going on. I switched managers twice and had to get my business together I’m still going through that trying to fix it right now. But it’s coming together. Now I’m finally heading in the right direction thank God.
That is interesting. That’s the other side of the business that fans don’t think about. They think you sing and get paid.
I’ve been jerked around from trusting someone so much and not completely knowing or not being involved in the business aspect and it was a huge mistake. When you don’t know what is going on you find out when it’s too late. It’s important to know what is going on all the time because it is your name and image and it’s your name on the paperwork. Something bad can happen in your name and you know nothing about it. Like I’ve heard that people were upset at me and I didn’t know anything about it. But that is what happens when you turn things over to someone else and you aren’t involved—that is a big, big mistake. And that is what I did.
+ Charlie Craine