Important to note, however, is that Concrete Jungle is a compilation album of songs that have already been released to international markets. This means that at times the album doesn’t flow as well as it could or feel like it’s overall a cohesive project, since bits and pieces of earlier works are thrown together in a new mix. Fortunately, the album is still solid enough that a listener may even be compelled to check out Nneka’s earlier albums to hear these tracks in their original contexts.
For much of the album Nneka walks a fine line between rapping and singing, both of which she does surprisingly well. Her delicate voice shines on tracks such as “Mind vs. Heart,” where she is singing in such a fragile manner that it seems she’s almost whispering the song. However, her presence is still strong enough that her voice never feels overpowered by the piano and light synths that lead the song closer toward its percussive climax. The track boasts a perfectly-executed dramatic crescendo that will keep Nneka’s audience hitting repeat in the future. Yet later in the album she can switch styles and become an angry, conscious rapper speaking out against social injustices, as is evidenced in “Focus.” An aggressive electric guitar intro leads into a musical backdrop for a near flawless delivery of bars that ensure that listeners know that Nneka is not playing games. It’s hard to believe that the same woman that sang so softly earlier in the album just dropped the F-bomb in a rhyme, but it’s clear that versatility is where Nneka truly shines.
Another area of versatility that Nneka makes evident is her linguistic abilities. She switches from English to Igbo seamlessly alongside backdrops with all types of musical influence behind them. And although American listeners may not be able to understand some of her lyrics, in most cases the music speak
s for itself, and there is at least some English on every track.
It is difficult to identify a low point in Concrete Jungle, and although not every track may be a five star masterpiece, the compilation is undeniably strong. Songs like “Heartbeat,” which was the single to 2008’s No Longer At Ease and made its mark on both the German and U.K., and “Africans” have the energy to keep crowds moving, yet still possess lyrics heavy enough to stimulate one’s mind and soul. Concrete Jungle is exactly the type of project that the U.S. market needed to hear from Nneka that will keep their attention on new material she releases. Her potential to transcend the limits of musical genre ensure that Concrete Jungle will continue her trend towards ubiquity on a global scale.