The Cleveland native rapper, born Nnena Adigwe to Nigerian parents, never imagined herself having a career in music, but she’s not new to creative pursuits. Nnena credits some of her robust, descriptive storytelling impulses to her past screenwriting experience. A former basketball player, Nnena began writing comedic sketches during her college years. That soon led to working on more full-fledged projects—the kinds of works that needed soundtracking. Rather than pay exorbitant licensing fees, she tried her hand at making her own music. It’s this drive and originality that caught the attention of Loud Robot in 2019, soon after becoming the first signee in a Loud Robot/RCA 2020 venture.
2021 saw Nnena’s fan base grow rapidly, with a couple of key syncs in HBO’s INSECURE, a performance on The Late Late Show with James Corden, an NPR Tiny Desk Performance, and was Spotify’s January EQUAL artist of the month, highlighting the next generation of female performers. Nnenawill release the first single off her debut album, November 29th. The song, “PMTWGR” is an anthem for women encouraging them to step back and remember their power and necessity in the world.
At the core of her songwriting is a commitment to honesty—even when it’s hard, inconvenient, or just plain awkward.
There’s a pretty straightforward explanation for that: “People like to sugar coat shit. I’m a blunt bitch,” she says with a laugh. But there’s a purpose to Nnena’s brazenness: “I’m trying to make you feel like shit is okay,” she adds. Nnena’s music reflects her eclectic influences. She remembers her father introducing her to powerful music across a range of styles: “Growing up, my dad would play everything—I’m talking about country, that rock shit, anything. I got a little old ear,” she says with a laugh. Joking aside, Nnena hopes to send at least one important message through her music: “I don’t want other girls to feel alone.”