Nneka Egbuna (born 24 December 1980) is a Nigerian singer, songwriter and actress. She sings in English, Igbo and Nigerian Pidgin.
Since 2003, Nneka has been working closely with the hip hop musician DJ Farhot, a producer living in Hamburg. As a young singer she first gained public attention in 2004 while performing as an opening act for dancehall reggae star Sean Paul at Hamburg Stadtpark. After much acclaim, Nneka was given a green light to record her first album.
After releasing her debut EP The Uncomfortable Truth with the music label Yo Mama's Recording Company, she performed on her first tour with Patrice Bart-Williams in April 2005, playing shows in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
She finished recording her first album in the autumn of 2005. Entitled Victim of Truth, it was released not only in Germany but also in England, France, Netherlands, Nigeria and Japan. Garnering rave reviews from the media, the UK's Sunday Times later declared it “the year’s most criminally overlooked album”, comparing it favourably to 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'.
Following the release of the album, Nneka enjoyed a sustained and successful period of touring, performing at festivals such as Chiemsee Reggae Summer, Haarlem (Bevrijdingspop), Den Haag (Park Pop) and Saint-Brieuc (Art Rock Festival) as well as in respected venues like La Maroquinerie and New Morning in Paris, Tivoli in Utrecht, Paradiso in Amsterdam and Cargo and ULU in London. She has also supported artists such as Femi Kuti, Bilal, Seeed, and Gnarls Barkley.
In 2006, Nneka also performed with a group of dancers from Münster on the German TV channel WDR. there she performed her single "Gypsy" while the group performed their dance routine they had worked on specifically for the song gypsy. The dance group was supported by the organization Schlauberger.
In February 2008, she released her second album, No Longer at Ease. The title of the album is taken from a novel of the same name by Chinua Achebe and reflects the lyrical content of the record. Most of the songs are political, talking about the plight of the Niger Delta and the corruption in Nneka’s homeland. “No Longer at Ease” combines the political and the personal in “a winning mix of soul, hip-hop and reggae”.The lead single from it, "Heartbeat", became her first song to break into the German Top 50. In September 2009, the song entered the UK Singles Chart at number twenty.
The following months saw tours in France, Italy and Portugal, while she also supported Lenny Kravitz on his French tour in April 2009.
Nneka was nominated in three categories for the 2009 Channel O Music Video Awards, and won an award for Best African Act at the 2009 MOBO Awards.
In late 2009, she was chosen as of one Beyond Race Magazine's "50 Emerging Artists", resulting in a spot in the publication's #11 issue (with Bodega Girls and J. Cole on the cover), as well as an exclusive Q&A for the magazine's site.
In November 2009, Nneka staged her first concert tour of the United States where she performed shows in New York City, Vienna (Washington DC), Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Furthermore, she was a special guest on The Roots Jam session. Her first US release Concrete Jungle was set for 2 February 2010.
Her track "Kangpe" is also featured as a soundtrack on EA Sports video game, FIFA 10.
In January 2010, Nneka appeared in Late Show with David Letterman in New York before getting her US tour underway.
In June 2010, she won the reggae category of the Museke Online Africa Music Award 2010 with her hit song, "Africans".
She agreed to go on tour with Nas and Damian Marley to help them promote their Distant Relatives (2010) album. She has done a remix of her highly rated track, "Heartbeat" with Nas, which was released via iTunes on Oct 05 2010.
She participated in the 2010 Lilith Fair Concert where Tegan & Sara, Sarah McLachlan, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Corinne Bailey Rae, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna and others have performed. She performed also in Washington, Raleigh and Charlotte (United States).
Nneka recorded a song for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa called "Viva Africa". It is a tribute to the premier mundial on African soil.
Nneka also won the award for best indigenous artist in Nigeria at the Nigerian Entertainment Awards (NEA) 2010, which was held in New York, U.S.A. Since then she has won the NEA award for best international artist several times.
In 2011, Nneka was featured alongside Ziggy Marley on the song "Express Yourself" produced for the film Beat the World.
In March 2012, she appeared on BET 106 and Park Music Matters. On the show she performed a live acoustic set with one of Nigeria's best Afro classical acoustic guitarist Clef nite and Black Thought the front man and rapper for the popular hip hop band The Roots She also made similar appearance on MTV Iggy with Clef nite on the second acoustic guitar.
Nneka recorded her album Soul Is Heavy in Nigeria. She also co-founded a charity foundation called the "ROPE foundation" with Ahmed "Genda" Nyei from Sierra Leone. She has worked extensively in charity and arts with the foundation in Sierra Leone. Nneka has also worked with Reebok and her track "Shining" topped global charts in 2013. Her song "Heartbeat" has been remixed and sampled several times - most notably by Chase & Status and Rita Ora respectively.
In May 2013, she appeared on False Idols by Tricky
Nneka was also on the Nigerian drama film "Relentless", co-produced and directed by Andy Amadi Okoroafor; it also stars Gideon Okeke, Halle Mordu, Jimmy Jean-Louis and Tope Oshin Ogun. It was released on 13 October 2010 at the BFI London Film Festival.
Even though Nneka sings more than she raps, she names hip hop as her primary musical root and most important source of inspiration, while citing artists such as Fela Kuti and Bob Marley as well as contemporary rappers Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Lauryn Hill as key influences in her own pursuit of musical recognition.
Her lyrics reflect much of her history and life in Nigeria as well as her time spent in Western Europe. Her songs stress the issues of capitalism, poverty and war and are often loaded with moral and biblical messages and references, with some music commentators comparing her to Erykah Badu, Neneh Cherry, and Floetry.