Nneka’s first U.S. LP, Concrete Jungle, will be released on February 2nd, and she will undertake a headlining tour to match.  For the Nigerian born anthropology student, one of her main travel items is love.  That’s Nneka’s self-described x-factor, and one of the reasons she feels her music has been able to spread across countries, languages, and genres.  “I think it’s cause of the love I put into it,” Nneka says about her success throughout Europe and the UK, where her 2005 release (Victim of Truth) was named one of the best releases of the year.  “I never really cared about record sales and charts, but God is taking me there and I am happy the message of love is spreading faster and coming across borders.”

Before releasing her debut album, Nneka caught people up to speed with a re-release of her Uncomfortable Truth EP, as well as a mixtape with DJ J. Period.  The crash course seems to be working, and Nneka continues to find her name and her music on many ‘most anticipated of 2010’ lists (including ours).  We caught up with Nneka as she prepares for the road, and the new release.  Check out our full interview below.

RubyHornet: You said about moving to Germany, “The cultural differences are extreme… The way they dress, the way they carry themselves, their religion. So many things that are important to me are not important to them. For two years I was overwhelmed.”  I’m curious to know how those feelings compare to your first introduction to the United States and what it’s been like building a buzz here?

Nneka: Yes similar from the way it looks, but the people are more friendly in the states, I mean from my experience, more outgoing.

RubyHornet:  You found immense success in Germany and throughout Europe, and are starting to taste similar success in the U.S.  Does this speak to the universality of the content found in your music, along with your talent?

Nneka:  I think it’s cause of the love I put into it…I never really cared about record sales and charts, but God is taking me there and I am happy the message of love is spreading faster and coming across borders.

RubyHornet:  While you credit American Hip Hop artists amongst your influences, what do you see as the relationship today between Hip Hop music and the African continent?  Is there a reciprocity in terms of influence, and respect, or is the relationship one-sided?

Nneka:  We seem to love Hip Hop, it has even become part of a one great influence in our style of music. We have a lot of artists in Nigeria that rap in traditional dialect on Hip Hop beats with African elements.

RubyHornet:  On “Africans” on The Uncomfortable Truth you say, “wake up world, wake up and stop sleeping/wake up Africa…”  In your mind, are the problems of the African Continent the problems of Africans living throughout the Diaspora?  Do you feel that they are recognized as such, and is that at all part of the Uncomfortable Truth that you speak of?

Nneka:  I think it is high time that we Africans take responsibility for our present state and condition, there is so much talent within Africa, so many resources, we just need the refineries, infrastructure and good minds, and God fearing politicians that work with the people and not against them. As for those in diaspora , there is so much we can bring back home, so much we can contribute to Africa…What we have learned overseas, instead of using it for your own self profit alone we can use it to support and educate our fellow Africans or contribute to the society.

RubyHornet:  Concrete Jungle will be your first major U.S. Release. Does making it in America have any extra significance for you?  Beyond the album being special because it is yours and it is new, is there any added specialness for you?

Nneka:  It is what I still represent: “LOVE”

RubyHornet:  Has your style changed, or have you become conscious of writing and creating music for American audiences at all, consciously or unconsciously?

Nneka:  I think I have not stopped doing the music for myself…

RubyHornet:  How does Concrete Jungle relate to your previous works?

Nneka:  It is very versatile, mixed, has different influences, reggae, ragga, Hip Hop, Afro-beat and more of Africa than the first one.

RubyHornet:  For many of our readers this will serve as their first formal introduction to you.  Can you give them 3 things they should know about you before going and checking out more music?

Nneka:  My name is Nneka Egbuna. I am a musician and an anthropologist, and I come from Nigeria. I live in Bigeria and shuttle around the world. I pray that my music touches people and that God ever stops using me for his own purpose..INSHALLAH