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Maybe it's a little bit shameful when it takes a German-Nigerian singer to kick American soul music out of its self-satisfied niche -- but that's just what Nigerian-born Nneka Egbuna is doing. After growing up in the Niger delta fed on a diet of American hip-hop and R&B, Egbuna headed to Germany to study, pursuing singing only as a sideline to her educational goals. But her fantastic voice and sharp songwriting soon earned her a recording contract and charting singles in Germany. While clearly influenced by singers like Erykah Badu and Lauryn Hill, Egbuna's musical palette is broader, always referencing hip-hop but frequently drawing on reggae and unusual, cutting-edge production. Her Nigerian upbringing has had a palpable effect on her lyrics, which take on injustice in a way rarely seen in the genre. In 2010 she released her American debut, Concrete Jungle, which compiled songs already available overseas.
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