Following A Year Wait, 'Nivea' Reaps Rewards

Excerpted from the magazine for

Sometimes good things come to those who wait. After having her eponymous debut album on Jive Records delayed for more than a year, R&B singer Nivea is starting to see the rewards of having a hit. Sales for the disc have been propelled by her top-10 single "Don't Mess With My Man."

"Nivea" was originally slated for release in 2001, but the album was ultimately released Dec. 10, 2002 and debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. Thus far, the album has sold 134,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, and "Nivea" is No. 83 in its seventh week on The Billboard 200.

"It's all about timing," Nivea says. "I'm glad we waited to release my album, because we all agreed that [2001] wouldn't be the right time."

Nivea first came to mainstream attention as a featured singer on Mystikal's "Danger," which reached No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart in January 2001. Later that year, Nivea's first solo single, "Don't Mess With the Radio," was released and peaked at No. 85 on that chart.

Nivea adds, "We expected the song to do well, but urban radio thought it was too pop and didn't really get behind it as much as we wanted."

With that, Jive senior VP of urban promotion and marketing Larry Khan says the label moved to step back and take a look at its approach to her career and album. "We believed in Nivea's star quality and vocal ability so much that we decided it would be better if we moved forward after we took some time to do more work on the album," he continues.

After changing some songs on her album, Nivea was reintroduced to the marketplace last year with "Don't Mess With My Man," featuring Jagged Edge singers Brian and Brandon Casey. The strategy paid off: The single vaulted into Billboard's Hot 100, eventually peaking at No. 8. On the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart, the song hit No. 1.

In addition to substantial radio airplay, Nivea has benefited from TV exposure. Sales jumped shortly after the singer made appearances on the ABC specials "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" and the American Music Awards. The video for "Don't Mess With My Man" also received significant support from MTV and BET.

Capping off the song's success, "Don't Mess With My Man" has been honored with a Grammy nomination for best R&B performance by or duo or group with vocal.

"I was shocked," Nivea says of hearing about her Grammy nod. "My manager [Collin Lampkin of Atlanta-based Lampkin International] told me all along that the song would be nominated for a Grammy, but I didn't believe him until it happened."

Unlike many female R&B singers, Nivea writes or co-writes almost all of her songs. In the yearlong interim between the release of her first and second singles, the artist says she used the time wisely to keep honing her craft.

"I feel more comfortable writing when I have down time. I've been writing songs since I was 15. Whatever I write, it has to be something people have to find realistic."

Nivea believes that the attention that "Don't Mess With My Man" has received could have been helped by fan interest on the Internet: "I know my original album was on the Internet and even before my album came out, there were people who had online fan sites for me."

Nivea's next single, "Laundromat," has been released and is getting airplay, even while "Don't Mess With My Man" is still in heavy rotation at many radio stations. A music video for "Laundromat" is due in February. Look for Nivea to perform the National Anthem prior to the Feb. 9 NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta and broadcast live on TNT.

Excerpted from the Feb. 8, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the members section.

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