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Nija Is Finally Writing Her Own Stories

After penning hits for stars like SZA and Ariana Grande, Nija steps into her own with her R&B solo debut.
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This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

R&B singer and songwriter Nija is a young veteran in the music industry. With songwriting credits for Beyoncé, SZA, Ariana Grande, and more, she’s spent over a decade working her way up as one of the industry’s best-kept secrets, and in the process racked up praise and coverage that drips with New Jersey hometown pride.

Inspired by The-Dream, Drake, Kanye West, Pharrell, Usher, and other classic acts, Nija’s soul-baring writing carries over into her solo work. Officially debuting in 2021 with the silky “Ease My Mind (Come Over),” Nija stepped into a new world of letting people into her life and her perspective on love and toxicity. Her debut album Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You, out today, takes the ethos of her first solo single even further as she recounts the 10 signs of a broken relationship.

Achieving a lifetime’s worth of success before 30, Nija equates her meteoric rise with an at times unfulfilling “drug high.” “Reaching all that success so early and quickly, it’s like, ‘Okay, what’s next? What’s the next big thing?’” she tells Audiomack World. “When you knock out a lot of those people so early on, it’s like, ‘What do I do next?’ I’ve reached my goals, and worked with people I felt were unreachable as a kid. That’s also why I get the success that I do because I’m always striving for more.”

“I intentionally did a double meaning,” Nija says of the album’s title. “One, everyone knows I’m a songwriter and I feel like there’s a big stigma that songwriters don’t really do well as artists and give their best songs away. I’m saying ‘don’t say I didn’t warn you’ to the music industry. Also to consumers, telling them to take me seriously because the music is that good.”

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Does your success and “What’s next?” mentality ever get exhausting? I never look back on my own writing and think, “Damn!”

I’m the exact same way. It does get exhausting because my hobby turned into a career—I do this 24/7. I feel everyone expects the best out of me, and I feel I’ve made it look easy.

At the end of the day, it’s not. I’ve just done it multiple times and pressure is put on me. Catering to everyone and trying to accomplish all my goals… But because I’ve worked so much, I don’t always get to bask in it. The times that I do [think], “Oh, wow! That really happened.” That happens when I’m at concerts and fans are belting the songs, and when I hear my songs played in the club.

The people are the validation, not the yes-men.

That’s the biggest thing to me, especially being in LA. There’s a lot of people yes-ing you to death and gassing you up. I rely on my instincts and try to tune [yes-men] out. I remember to stay close to where I started and the feeling I got when I started.

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Was there any fear or anxiety associated with your “Ease My Mind (Come Over)” debut?

I wouldn’t say fear, but definitely anxiety. Like you said, there’s distance when I have a song that came out for someone else. Now, people are hearing my stories and my business. Letting people take a look into my life is something else.

Also, I’m cursing on records and my grandma listens to my music! I know she’s gonna go back and tell her people at church, so that’s anxiety. But I like that type of excitement because it’s my debut and as much as I was anxious, I was excited for people to hear the new sounds and the new journey.

You take a detailed look at love and pain on this album. Is love easy for you to write about or does it hurt to go back?

Yeah, it is difficult for me, because when I was writing for other people, I’m telling their stories. It’s not as personal as when I’m writing my own stuff. I’m the type of person where I need to act like something never happened in order to get over it. When I’m writing my own stuff, I have to relive it when I’m in the booth. It’s definitely like a therapy session.

How do you keep the boundaries so you don’t carry those feelings with you outside of the booth?

I can’t go into the studio with an empty head. With my stuff, I need to go off of some type of emotion. I re-read messages and think back to memories, and blurt it out onto the mic and have fun. I don’t limit myself and cater to other people’s voices. I have to see what comes out—it’s journaling on the mic.

I love “Not One Of Them” because of the confidence. Can you pinpoint the moment you started feeling confident in yourself?

I’ve always been confident because of how I was raised. I grew up with a Black mom who was an engineer in tech and I’ve always seen her call the shots. I’ve always seen her be so sure of herself. She instilled that in me. She told me, every day growing up: “You are a strong Black woman.” I’ve always believed that and not quit. She always told me, “If you love something, make sure you know the ins and outs of it and trust in yourself.” That’s how I approach music. As long as I love my music, that’s all that matters.

‘Cause then people can’t tell you anything.

Exactly! If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Someone else will. Even if everyone didn’t like the music but me, that’s all that matters because I’m still gonna listen to it in the car.

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