Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
Four years ago, the French duo Les Nubians put an international spin on R&B with "Princesses Nubiennes" (Nubian Princesses), their debut. Sisters Helene and Celia Faussart return with "One Step Forward," their sophomore set for OmTown/Higher Octave (March 25).
"Princesses Nubiennes" was the most successful French-language album to chart in Billboard in the past 16 years -- selling 419,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album's first single, "Makeda," peaked at No. 48 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart and marked the first time a French-language single had charted.
Following the success of "Princesses Nubiennes," the group toured extensively and collaborated with a number of U.S. artists, including Black Eyed Peas, Reflection Eternal, and Jimmy Summers.
"We did a lot of [other] music and touring between albums," Helene Faussart says. "After we wrapped the tour, we had a lot of ideas. We felt fresh and full of inspiration. We evolved as musicians, women, mothers, and humans.
"During the last few years, we grew and experienced life," she adds. "Those last five years were more about action. The new album had to be in that vein. The first album was a presentation of ideas. Now, it's about everyday life experiences."
With experience comes new opportunities. The duo's time on the road allowed them to improve their English, and as a result they wrote more in English for "One Step Forward," including lead single, "Temperature Rising," which features Talib Kweli.
"Writing in English came completely natural," says Helene. "When we were writing, we wanted to be understood. We speak better in English now, and our minds were able to express themselves in English. So, at that precise moment, English was a better language for expressing ourselves."
Excerpted from the March 29, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Billboard.com Premium Services section.
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