uNder spotlight: Njeri explores romantic toxicity and self-love on ‘D.R.U.G.S’

Kenya's rising R&B star “would NEVER wish a toxic love on anyone”

Njeri’s entrance into the music scene can be credited to the lockdown period. After a near death experience from contracting Co-Vid 19, Njeri wanted to make a statement that would immortalise her dedication to her first love: Music. Believing her songwriting abilities are innate, after stumbling across her late grandfather’s book where he scribbled lyrics, she decided to turn her lifelong hobby into her life’s mission.

A strong believer of love, Njeri has spent the bulk of her growing catalogue painting warm vignettes of life’s most ubiquitous and complex emotion, with her seraphic melodies acting as her most compelling trait. Aiming to use music as a mirror of her life, she has mapped and solidified her position as a growing R&B star in Kenya. Intensified devotion and an intentional approach, along with her childhood love for musical shows, has given her the formula to serenade listeners with enchanting songs that have emotional honesty at its core, tacitly and warmly urging us to join in and get vulnerable with our emotions.


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Njeri’s debut EP ‘Dimensions’ served as a forerunner to her greatness. With the aim of showcasing her life in full spectrum, she tackled going out, love and passion for life. The project also managed to get a co-sign from Kenyan musical legend, Chris Adwar. Her recently released album, ‘D.R.U.G.S’, is a reflection of her growth over the past year. With its title functioning as an acronym for “Dear Romance U Got Sweet,” Njeri takes listeners on a 23-minute sonic euphoria ride, with neatly stacked, absorbing production from prolific producer Cap, weaving together a subtly eclectic and cohesive tapestry that centres R&B and neo-soul, with touches of hip-hop, dream-pop, trip-hop, bedroom pop, synthwave, and even rock.

Across the nine tracks that make up ‘D.R.U.G.S’, Njeri’s silky tunes and the divine transitions between songs traces a journey from the false highs of toxic love to the wholesome safety of healthy love. Using the intoxicating effect of drugs and their sobering comedowns as a guiding device, Njeri curates a conceptually immersive body of work with great standalone songs that culminate into a seamless front-to-back listen. “I would NEVER wish a toxic love on anyone,” she tells The NATIVE over a zoom call. “Love should be pure, blissful, everything nice. Yes, there’s highs and lows but the lows should not be rock bottom.”

Shedding the bubbly character from her previous EP, Njeri takes a more introspective route to depict the persona of a lover in distress, happy, sad, melancholic, and on the road to self-discovery. Her soul infused serenades have built a project that will stand the test of time as it greets and holds ears across Kenya and beyond. A month after the release of the album, she’s appreciative of the positive reception towards the album. As we speak over Zoom, she tells me the reception has been immense, something she didn’t expect as she is still new in the industry.

In our conversation with Njeri, she discusses her path to singing, ‘D.R.U.G.S’, and her creative process. A lightly edited version of the interview follows below.

NATIVE: How did you get into singing?

Njeri: I really enjoyed listening to music as a kid and watching musicals, so I guess it just grew on me. Everything made sense when there was music on and I just started singing along. I was in the choir as well so I guess that played a big part as well. 

I’ve always been one to shy away from my talents. The turning-point in my musical journey happened after I contracted Covid-19 in December 2020. I contemplated feelings of regret and self-doubt and realized that when all is said and done, music is what I wanted to do with my life. Plus I didn’t want to go back to the States, I was desperately searching for something to tie me back to Kenya.  Obviously, this isn’t me trying to romanticize my experience contracting Covid but it was the sign I needed to be fearless with my passions and dive into the deep-end. I believe if you are given a gift, it’s your obligation to explore it!

Who have been your musical inspirations?

Most of them are R&B artists. Tracy Chapman, Whitney Houston, Kiana Ledé, Lauryn Hill.

How would you describe the style of music you make?

I would describe it as different. As basic as that sounds, there’s nothing in the Kenyan market that I can for sure say sounds like it. It’s emotive as well in terms of lyrics. I have lived in the US for a while and it has enabled me to be in touch with my African roots.

You released ‘Dimensions’ last year, what’s the difference between that EP and your new album?

Production quality and unison of ideas. The EP did not have a set storyline, whereas the album did. The production quality was also amped up to a much higher level thanks to Cap! He did an amazing job with everything and worked overtime to get the details perfectly such as the transitions. Everything was so seamless on ‘D.R.U.G.S’.

How would you describe your creative process for this album?

It comes from a storytelling point of view. Not necessarily my stories but things I’ve seen and witnessed in other people’s lives as well. I’m an optimist so I always like to end things on a positive note. In the album, the outro is “Love Again,” which basically denotes the willingness to want to fall in love again. Being open to finding love again, meaning one’s readiness of being vulnerable in that aspect after being hurt repeatedly. It takes a lot to be vulnerable, so being ready to take that leap of faith again takes a lot of healing and once it’s achieved it turns into something beautiful.


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The album digs about love and its toxic parts, would you say it is essential to have these feelings?

Hell no! I would NEVER wish a toxic love on anyone. Love should be pure, blissful, everything nice. Yes, there’s highs and lows but the lows should not be rock bottom. A lot of us are genuinely used to settling and calling it love which shouldn’t be the case. Everyone deserves love, a healthy love and I genuinely hope everyone finds it.

What was the most notable moment when making D.R.U.G.S?

The day we made “Ecstasy.” It was one of the chillest days in the studio. Albeezy, Cap and I were just chilling and Cap decided to make this fire beat that we wrote to and made into what it is now. It was actually supposed to be spelled Extacy because it’s about a past love.

‘D.R.U.G.S’ has catapulted you into an artist to watch out for, how has that impacted you in the last month?

It’s been quite normal for me but that’s probably because I don’t realize the magnitude of what it’s done. I tend to be a very low-key and realistic person. I’m not the type to change my way of life based on any sort of success, so yeah, it’s definitely a me problem. Everything feels the same to me. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it all. I appreciate and reciprocate all the love that I’ve been getting. It just doesn’t change my way of life.

With roughly less than a year into the music industry, what have you learnt so far?

To be genuine. Always be yourself and never change what you make in terms of trends and all. My first project was more tailored to suit the market. It sounded like what was already out, but with the album I chose to stick to R&B and do what I do best. I’m impressed by how high up it is on the charts. I would’ve never expected an RnB album to be that high up on the Kenyan charts. I like that people are open to a new sound.

What’s your most memorable moment as an artist yet?

My listening party when people sang along to my songs that hadn’t even been released yet. I was in shock. I was in awe. It was a beautiful moment.