Article by Musically United
“Make sure you trust your gut, [and] trust your intuition because it will prevail.” Nija Charles is a three-time GRAMMY Award-winning innovative songwriter and record producer who has effortlessly paved her way through the music industry. She has led every decision with intuition and trusting her gut, even the monumental decision of becoming an artist and pursuing solo music. Nija’s decision was validated while working on a project with Beyoncé several years ago. After playing a demo for Beyoncé she responded, “You have the most beautiful tone in the world.” Later on, Beyoncé asked Nija to stay on a project which led to her being featured on ‘My Power.’ Both of these moments provided Nija with the courage to become a solo artist.
Nija can officially add artist to her ever-growing list of accomplishments with the release of her debut R&B solo project, Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You. The album was released earlier this year, and exudes empowerment and creativity like no other. Nija takes a different stance on toxic relationships, which sets her album apart from others. “I am sad, but you fucked up… I will take this L once, but after this I am done. I am getting back to who I am,” explains Nija further. The overall theme of the project is to be strong and confident to the point where you never feel like that person got one up on you. Nija hopes this exact message is received by listeners to help them realize the importance of being the person in control, and not letting someone get them down. Nija admires how female rappers are exerting control in their music, and strives to bring the same perspective into R&B. She is most drawn to R&B, and it is her favorite genre to listen to and create.
Nija’s upbringing plays a major role in the music she creates as an artist and songwriter. Being from New Jersey, her childhood consisted of “a melting pot of different genres.” Her parents played a mixture of Jersey House Music, rock, and rap whereas her grandparents enjoyed 70s R&B and jazz. Nija grew to love 70s music as it “uses instruments in the most pure way.” Her musical and creative background contributes to the way she produces music. The myriad of genres she grew up on provided a foundation and endless exposure, which has allowed Nija to execute her visions with ease. She enjoys genre-bending and experimenting with different music styles. “[For] ‘Ease My Mind’ I took R&B and drill and meshed them together…With my songwriting melodies, I sang with a rappy cadence,” shares Nija. She utilizes the skills she has developed through her experiences as a songwriter, and “maneuvers into different pockets.” She considers herself a “chef” in the sense of knowing the right amount of “ingredients” to place into a song to make it concise and gratifying.
Aside from her childhood, Nija continues to be inspired by several women in the music industry. The work ethic of Beyoncé and Amber Grimes is very admirable, and keeps Nija pushing forward. Ann Marie’s lyrics, vocals, and production choices influence Nija’s music as a whole. Ester Dean has flowed through so many different genres throughout her career, and Nija sees her as one of the only black women to do so flawlessly. Being a woman, nonetheless a black woman, in the music industry is no easy feat. Nija is working diligently to break through the stereotypes black women face on a daily basis. “Stand your ground, and don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise,” states Nija firmly. This goes for all women since the music industry is male-dominated at this point in time. The key is to remember your morals, and don’t be afraid to prove to everyone in the room that you have the right and the skills to be there. Despite obstacles and having to go off the beaten path at times, Nija continues to perfect her craft and hone in on her skills. She attests to having a personal goal of consistency, and being in competition with only herself. Nija highly values creativity over perfect execution, and will continue to have that mindset throughout her time in the industry. Her creativity shines through other outlets, such as fashion. Nija showcases her east coast roots and confidence through her style. Fashion is dear to her heart, and she has a highlight on Instagram to document her recent looks. “It comes down to me being comfortable in my skin, and showing that through the clothes,” explains Nija. She displays this comfortability not only through her style, but also as an artist. Nija is an icon inside and outside the studio, and will be successful in all of her endeavors for years to come. Nija is taking on the power role, and she is here to stay.