Nivea’s truncated career has always been a wonder to lovers of 2000s R&B. The singer’s star was bright with a variety of R&B-pop hits, but the singer’s career faded with little explanation. In BET Digital’s series premiere of Finding, the singer-songwriter details the ups as well as the downs in her career.
On Friday (Sept. 21), the Atlanta singer revealed few tidbits, including her reluctance to sing in the first place and creating a whopping 36-song demo. After linking up with her first manager, she scored a record deal with Jive Records in 2000.
At the time, the label was experiencing an economic boom with the breakout pop success of the bubblegum artists on their roster which included *NSYNC, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. On the flip side, the label also had gritty urban talent which was R. Kelly, Joe, and Mystikal with whom Nivea would sing the hook on his “Danger (Been So Long)” track.
The song would go on to top the R&B/Hip-Hop charts and crossover to pop radio peaking at No. 14 on Billboard. Nivea, who started working on her first album, was dubbed by Jive Records executive, Clive Calder, as the “Black Britney Spears” At the time, Nivea had colorful hair, wore midriffs that matched her slim figure and singing songs mixed with bubblegum pop and R&B flare.
“My first song was [produced by] Organized Noize called “Don’t Mess With The Radio” which sounded extremely urban in my opinion,” she said. “So my manager was a straight up con-artist and told them I wrote these songs but I didn’t write anything until we started doing the album. Dream tells me to this day that people are shocked at the deal I managed to get–a million dollar deal at 18.”
Her eponymous debut album spawned three singles — “Don’t Mess With the Radio,” “Don’t Mess with My Man” (with Brian and Brandon Casey of Jagged Edge)” and “Laundromat” (with labelmate R. Kelly). While “Laundromat” and “Radio” achieved modest success, it was “My Man” that gave Nivea her biggest hit to date peaking at No. 8 on the pop charts.
However, due to toxic label politics, recalled copies of her sophomore album Complicated, and relationships and eventual parenthood with Lil Wayne and The-Dream, her music career quickly faded as fast as it arrived.
“I was actually told in the [label] office; you’re not f**kable. Nobody don’t wanna f**k you,” Nivea recalled during the episode. She mentioned how she was essentially pushed to the side to make room for more sensual artists like Ciara. The R&B songstress shared that she was locked out of getting airplay on urban radio stations because she was “too pop.”
For the past few years, Nivea has dedicated the majority of her time as a mother to four children — three with The-Dream and one with Lil’ Wayne.
But the singer’s journey isn’t over. She has plans to release a new single this month along with plans for her new project.
Watch the full episode below.