If Ester Dean doesn't become a household name, it won't be for lack of trying. She has already written or co-written songs for Keri Hilson, Keyshia Cole, Ciara and the Pussycat Dolls. Her most recent credits include Mary J. Blige's latest single "I Am," Rihanna's "Rude Boy" and several songs on Chris Brown's new album "Graffiti."
In the midst of all this activity, the singer/songwriter from railroad town Muskogee, Okla., somehow found time to release her own first single, "Drop It Low," featuring Brown-who was also her co-writer on the buzz track. Peaking at No. 31 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 33 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, the single is the precursor to Dean's first solo album for Zone 4/Interscope. Due later this year, the untitled project is being produced by hitmaking Zone 4 architect Polow Da Don.
"Polow gets my crazy self and I get his crazy self," Dean says with a Betty Boop laugh. "We're married into music and look at songs as our kids. We fight over them and nurture them."
Dean's raw, energetic vocals cover a wide range: from club banger to melodic doo-wop/hip-hop. It's a style this daughter of a church-singing mom has been honing since middle school. Her driving desire to sing prompted her to thumb through the yellow pages looking for studios. Relocating with her family to Omaha, Neb., Dean began singing and freestyling with local rappers. Following high school, she moved to Atlanta. But after being told she needed to lose weight and that her voice was too raspy, Dean soured on the dream.
Segueing into her second passion, Dean picked up writing gigs for producers Chris "Tricky" Stewart and Jazze Pha. Her colorful vocals on Jeremih's "Birthday Sex" remix and Gucci Mane's "White Girl"-and writing hooks for Young Jeezy-brought her to Polow's attention.
Now, Dean is hoping that a couple more dreams come true. "I'm trying to get Nicki Minaj on the album. I just love her," she says. "And I really want to do a song with Mary. Those are my two No. 1 wishes."