place immediately." Nneka herself brought hip-hop to the party, plus Fela Kuti's Afrobeat, reggae, American R&B, and older political songs like those of Nina Simone.
The musical mix they developed grew uses these elements with an attractive freedom, and Nneka has been compared to Lauryn Hill. But she usually sings rather than raps, and it's her voice that catches your attention first. It has three distinct layers: a prophetic sound with a low edge, a mid-range with lots of breath, and a top in which the breath is set free in flute-like improvisations. That delicate voice makes the political edge in her songs all the more effective.
Writing in what must be her third language (she has sung in Igbo as well), Nneka brings accomplished lyrics to match that totally fresh sound. One of her moves, exemplified in her hit "Heartbeat," is to unexpectedly reveal what seems to be a love song lyric as a political comment, with the political content thus resting on the long relationship of colonized and colonizer. She can do the type of song that catalogues centuries of history, but mostly her commentary is pointed. In "Lucifer (No Doubt)," an intense fusion of reggae and Afrobeat, she addresses the materialist world: "Oh, no doubt, I'm loving you more than I love myself. With your mouth, you stole my soul so I could not love myself."