Nneka is serious about exposing the concrete jungles she’s seen in Nigeria and Germany, jumping from the political to the very personal in each track of her U.S. debut.
Lyrically, it’s not feel-good music, and it’s not supposed to be. But neither was Lauryn Hill’s solo work, to which Nneka’s has been deservedly compared. She strikes a much-needed chord in our pop lexicon, applying a passionate voice to a pitch-perfect blend of soul, Rasta, and hip-hop music. Concrete Jungle showcases the singer’s eclectic range of influences without devolving into cliché. Be it a Bob Marley–ish call to arms, blasting lyrics like “Wake up, world” over lazy reggae upstrokes (“Africans”) or her coyer proposal of “Let us make a change,” on a jazzy ballad drenched in horns and soulful backup singing (“The Uncomfortable Truth”), Nneka’s intensity and versatility make her brutally honest message easy to swallow.