Neisha Neshae, the self-proclaimed "queen of R&B trap", is slowly but surely invading urban airwaves, one radio spin at a time. Before her Helluva-produced single "On a Cloud" got popular, the 19-year-old's life had been full of storms. After dropping out of high school due to being overwhelmed by her mother's death, music became an outlet to escape from her reality.
Many are gravitating to her unique delivery, as she intertwines silky yet heavy tones with hip-hop rhymes. We talked to Neisha Neshae two days before her first big show, the Triple Threat III Concert at the Music Hall, which she opened up for acts Diggy Simmons, Elijah Blake, and Lil George on Nov. 21. She was on cloud nine discussing what the future holds for her fresh career.
Metro Times: What was your childhood like?
Neisha Neshae: A lot of trials and tribulations. Many situations, little and big situations that I went through that have got me where I am today. As far as growing up in foster care, not being raised by my parents, losing my mom at a young age, and being abused. The story is real deep. That's why I'm trying to push and tell people to help them overcome.
MT: When did the abuse start?
Neshae: I was raised by my mom for like a year, and then me and my sister got taken away from her. I was in foster care for about two years, then my dad and his girlfriend came and got us. His girlfriend abused us; he was never there and that's the resentment I have towards him now. I feel like he should have been there for me, there to protect me. The abuse motivated me to be a good person, to be great and positive because I felt like that was going to get me out of that situation.
After I got out of that, I went and lived with my aunt and my grandpa. That didn't go very well, because I am biracial. I have a black half of family and a white half of family. I was raised by the Caucasian part of my family, so I didn't know much about my mom's side. My aunt is the one who really raised me most of my life, but I was always like the odd child. I was the angry one, the one that couldn't do anything. I got used to that, and I always thought since I'm always the one being picked on about how angry I am. I guess I'll just be great and do what I do that's great, so that's when the music started.
MT: Where did your love for music come from?
Neshae: My first inspiration to music was my dad, because he tried to be a rapper at some point. I don't know how well that went for him but I'm going to show him how it's done. That's what brought me where I am. I also used to record myself on an iPod, and at the time I couldn't post it anywhere, but that was my way of learning how I sounded. I would be rapping and singing. I also started by writing my mom letters when she was incarcerated — like my poems and stuff eventually turned into my music. So writing the letters, recording on the iPod, is where I got my start. I'm in the booth now, I'm not recording on an iPod no more [laughs], so it's really a blessing.
MT: How would you define your style of music?
Neshae: I sing and I rap, but I don't want to be a rapper or a straight singer, so I came up with R&B trap. It's more like a melodic thing, it's very catchy.
MT: How involved are you in the creation of your music? Do you play any instruments or write your own songs?
Neshae: I write my own songs. I used to play the bells at my church, and I also played the clarinet in high school. My main instrument is my voice.
MT: Where did you get the concept of your single "On a Cloud" from?
Neshae: Helluva produced the song; we recorded it at United Sound. When people hear it, they think it's about smoking weed. But it's more of a faith thing — the cloud is your faith; that's the highest part. You're being on your throne, on a cloud, at your peak. Feeling like you're great. When I say I'm on a cloud and never coming down it means I accomplished all of this — I've made it to my cloud and I'm never coming down.
MT: Are people catching on to your music outside of Detroit?
Neshae: Definitely. There are 20 stations spinning "On a Cloud" right now. It's definitely popping.
MT: What can we look forward to you doing in the future?
Neshae: My first project is going to be called What the Streets Been Missing. That's going to be really fire. It has a lot of stuff people haven't got clips of.
MT: If you could collaborate with any artists, who would you like to collaborate with?
Neshae: Young Jeezy, Lil Boosie, or Chris Brown.
MT: What is your biggest inspiration to keep going?
Neshae: I lost my mom my 11th-grade year in high school; that was on Valentine's night. And that's my biggest motivation now. I feel like I always have an angel with me, at all times. She's always there for me, when I'm going through things and when I'm not going through things. When I lost my mom, I had to stop going to school, because I couldn't focus. I didn't want to feel the pity from people, I didn't want to feel like, well, I don't know. I can't really say that she wouldn't be upset to know that I'm not in school right now, but I can say she would be very proud of the woman I am becoming. Through all of the things that I have been through ... being abused, feeling like I have nobody, not being raised by my parents, I pushed through all of it, and that's how I got where I am now by never giving up. I never plan on giving up, and I don't want any of my fans to give up.
MT: What advice could you give to someone that is going through similar hardships?
Neshae: At one point in my life, I truly believed that I wouldn't have a life. I thought being angry was something I would be dealing with for the rest of my life. When I found something I was good at and realized I have a talent, that's when everything changed. Knowing who you are inside is one of the greatest assets to have. So, my motivation and my thing to tell people is to find something that you're good at, and do it. Don't let anything stop you. Do what you believe and what your insides are telling you. If you're intact with who you are inside, it makes everything 10 times greater.
Taylor Bembery is a Metro Times intern.
Neisha Neshae performs on Sat., Dec. 26 with Young Dolph and Carbine Guevara at the Crofoot; Doors at 9 p.m.; 1 South Saginaw, Pontiac; 248-858-9333; $5.