SATURDAY | MAY 28
Through tragedy comes triumph, a mantra that Neisha Neshae holds close to the chest. As the newest addition to Roc Nation readies her EP Queenin’ the Michigan native maintains her strength in tackling everything that life throws her way, while simultaneously reigning as the Queen of R&B Trap.
From childhood, life threw a series of curveballs at Neisha. At a year old, Neisha was taken from her mother and placed into foster care with her sister. A few years later, her father came, bringing Neisha and her sister into an extremely volatile household with his girlfriend. “She was an alcoholic,” Neisha recalls, “and would constantly abuse my sister and I.” They were later placed in the care of her grandmother and aunt in Ypsilanti, Michigan. “I spent a lot of my time as a kid being so angry,” reflects Neisha. Failing school grades and therapy sessions would flood Neisha’s preteens as her only solace was music—writing songs in her spare time and singing in the church and school choirs.
By 9th grade, Neisha experienced another life-changing encounter, randomly reconnecting with her mother at a local mall. “I heard a voice say, ‘I’m your mother,’” Neisha says, “but I didn’t recognize her because I was a year old when I was taken from her.” To her grandmother and aunt’s chagrin, Neisha put her focus into building a life with her mother, looking past her mom’s drug addiction and prostitution. “I was doing anything I could to be around my mom.” Two years later, she would lose her mother to a crack-induced series of aneurysms. Neisha withdrew from the rest of the world, yet grew closer to her music. “Music saved my life,” she says with confidence. She invested in studio time, found a manager, and put the wheels in motion for a recording career.
At 19, her debut single “On A Cloud” drew a sizable buzz on the internet, due largely in part to its relatable lyrics and catchy production from producer Helluva. “There’s a lot of people searching for happiness right now,” Neisha explains. “And the song is really uplifting.” A deal with Roc Nation later followed, and now at 21, Neisha Neshae is ready to bring her life experiences into her music with her debut Queenin’.
“Queenin’ means being a boss lady, overcoming obstacles and being an overachiever as a woman,” she says of the EP’s title. “You have to have a tough skin out here, and I’ve been through enough in my life to develop that skin. I’m at a point where I can inspire people to do the same.”
The project is full of inspiration, while at the same time bringing a party, as it strikes a sonic balance of Trap and R&B with accents of Pop and Soul. The EP’s first single “I’ma Go Crazy” (prod. Helluva) is already nearing 600,000 views on YouTube, as the raging message has connected with so many of Neisha’s fans. “I never realized how many girls love to go crazy until this song,” she says with a laugh. “I had to speak up for the crazy girls.”
“Love Life” (prod. Helluva) is an aspirational cut of enjoying life with unbridled authenticity. Other songs like “Killer” (prod. Helluva) and “Bossin” (prod. Helluva) are both for the ambitious, knowing that slaying is a daily operation. Finally there’s “White Sticks,” a Jei Wes produced cut with a nod to the white frames of Cartier Buff shades, as Neisha explains how girls will go for guys who like the finer things in life. “In Detroit, you can get killed for those glasses,” she says, “but we went with a more fun message.”
Above all, Queenin’ is the story of a survivor who channels her raw feelings into her music and the result is a multi-layered experience. “I think the creative process of making songs and writing songs and recording them and getting your message across to your fans through your emotions…” she pauses…“it’s just the most important thing for me.”
Neisha Neshae’s mission is to show young people everywhere that a rough upbringing can still bring a happy ending. From foster care to center stage, anything is possible, and for Neisha her end goal is longevity. “I want my music to still play on the radio 15-20 years from now and still inspire people with my story,” she says. “I’m trying to be legendary.”