You watched Ester Dean  "Drop it Low" with Chris Brown  and recently heard her on Nicki Minaj 's Billboard Hot 100 No. 4, "Super Bass." Now the singer, also one of the industry's busiest songwriters, is moving back into the limelight with a role in Ice Age: Continental Drift and a solo album in the works.
"I'm just excited," Ester says of playing her character, the Sloth Siren. "On [August] 23, I go put my voice down. And my character gets to sing."
Ester is one of many musicians in the Ice Age 4 cast. Drake , Nicki Minaj, Queen Latifah  and Jennifer Lopez  are lending their voices to the film. It won't be the first time that Ester has portrayed an animated character on film, either.
Aside from Ice Age 4, Ester is preparing her first solo album. "We're working on picking songs right now," Ester tells The Juice. Ester is shooting for a sound that suits her unique voice, which she calls "hard" and "raspy."
"Picture Mary [J. Blige]  singing over Jay-Z  tracks. Singing over Jay-Z beats, Kanye West  beats. I want it to be grimy. It's something about having a grimy sound where it's truth be told... It's talking about something but it doesn't have to be sad. It's hard, like in your face," Ester says.
As she works on her own project, Ester will continue to write for other artists. "These people in this industry are my friends. I don't look at them as competition. I think we're all blessed to even be doing this. My race is my race. I can't ever look to the left and look to the right to see who I'm going to beat." Ester recently penned Kelly Rowland 's second single, "Lay It On Me" and "I'm Dat Chick" off "Here I Am." Look our for Ester's songwriting skills on Mary J. Blige's upcoming album, "My Life II... The Journey Continues" (Oct. 4).
That humble, collaborative mentality allows her to achieve "balance," Ester tells The Juice. "If Beyoncé  wants a song, I can do one, if Rihanna  wants a song, I can do one, if Sean Paul  wants a song, I can do one, if Britney  [Spears] wants a song, if Celine Dion  wants a song, I can do it because I'm never chasing them. I thank God to be able to be in the vicinity of 'em."
If Ester writes a great song and decides that someone can do it better than she can, so be it. Such was the case with Rihanna. "That girl, she knows what to do with 'S&M.' I just knew how to write i... that's not an Ester song."
Although she doesn't compare herself to anyone, Ester Dean is inspired by Missy Elliot . "I think Missy is girl empowerment. She's like 'every girl should be able to be around each other,'" Ester says of Missy Elliott. "And then making music non-sexist because she's like, 'I can come over here and ride with ya'll boys,' and that's what I'm making sure I put out. A uni-sex sound."
- Hip-Hop