With Sean Paul’s numerous dance pop hits, the release of the Marley brother’s future-classic albums, and the cultural blending of Matisyahu, there has been an incredible re-emergence of reggae music in the past decade.
Jamaican songstresses, Nyanda and Nailah Tharbourne, make up Brick and Lace. They are the first artists signed to Akon’s new label Kon Live but have been involved in music for years. Nyanda and Nailah have written music for Paris Hilton, Nicole Sherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls, and Janet Jackson and, recently, have sung backup for Lauryn Hill’s long-awaited second album.
In June their debut album, Love Is Wicked, drops worldwide.
HipHopRnBSoul.com: Could you explain the origin of the name “Brick and Lace?”
Nyanda: Brick and Lace means feminine strength. It represents two sides of a woman. We see that girls have two sides to her. She has a flirty, sexy side but she also has her strong side and a more edgy side.
HRS: While growing up in Kingston, who were some of your greatest musical influences?
Nyanda: Diana King has been our idol for years. I don’t think she knows the impact she has made on us because she was the first female singer from Jamaica to really make it on such an international level. She’s doing what we love to do, which is to blend R&B and dancehall, blend those two genres together. When she came out with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in “Bad Boys,” her song was called “Shy Guy.” We had the opportunity to sing background for her and we just really look up to her a lot.
HRS: You sang back up for Lauryn Hill and Roberta Flack. How was it working with such talented artists?
Nyanda: Lauryn Hill is a major influence as a female in the industry. The way she raps and then she sings and that’s exactly the way Brick and Lace is, you know what I mean.
HRS: What happened to the third member of Brick and Lace?
Nyanda: There was a third member of Brick and Lace. She is no longer in the group and she just wanted to pursue other things. I think the hustle was becoming too hard for her (laughter). Not hard, but stressful. She just wanted to have a family. She’s our sister and she still writes with us. She’s written some of the songs on our album and she still vocal arranges with us.
HRS: How is it working with Akon?
Nyanda: Working with Akon, it just felt like he was an old friend or something. It was like we had known him for years. He totally got us creatively. Our A&R and Jimmy Iovine wanted to have him work with us. They thought he would understand our flavor and what we were trying to do. We were huge fans of [Akon] and we just loved the energy that he brings to the game, you know what I mean. He definitely has a refreshing flavor. Working with him it was really a wonderful experience. We made the music that we wanted to make. We had such great chemistry. He said somewhere, “I am the new member of Brick and Lace.” (Laughter)
HRS: The title of your album is Love Is Wicked. How exactly is love wicked?
Nailah: We called it Love Is Wicked because love is definitely a universal theme. In Jamaica “wicked” means two things; it means wicked in a good way and then there’s the normal sense in which it means it’s bad. We use love in two sides; it’s good and it’s bad. If you listen to the album online, the theme of the album it really reflects the different sides of love. The title track of the album, “Love Is Wicked” is one of our special songs. That song means a lot to us.
HRS: You both either wrote or co-wrote every song on the album. What has that experience taught you?
Nailah: We’ve been writing forever. We’re songwriters, that’s what we do. It comes naturally. It’s a blessing that we’re able to write and vocal produce and do what we do. Hopefully, it has taught people things (laughter). It’s good to be an artist who writes your own music because we are definitely more attached. It’s more true to us coming from a real place because somebody didn’t say “here’s a record, you guys record it.” With each record, whether it was our experience or friends that we know, we penned our own words.
HRS: Where do you see yourselves ten years from now?
Nailah: Wow! Ten years from now, hopefully, our music will be playing and people will know our records on an international level. Awards are the icing on the cake. Hopefully, people will know Brick and Lace, more importantly know our music. Hopefully, our music will have effected people in a positive way, in a special way. You know you hear records that are timeless? And every time you hear that record on the radio, you think “this is my song, this is my jam, I love this record.” Hopefully, people will get that from our album because that’s definitely what we are set out to do. We love albums that live on, albums that are twenty years old you can play today. To me, that is the ultimate. All the awards and recognition in the world, it doesn’t count. It’s not the same as when you hear your music playing years from now. To me that is more of an important thing.
HRS: What are some records you consider classic and timeless?
Nailah: Definitely Love Is Wicked is one of our favorite records because we’re talking about love and it is a true story. We have been in relationships, not now, but we’ve been in relationships where you feel like you’re not the wifey. In Jamaica, instead of saying “girlfriend” they say “wifey.” Why can’t we be that? Why is it that I’m playing number two, when I’m not, I’m the forefront girlfriend.
Nyanda: Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. We love Tracy Chapman. Junior Gong’s first and second album, Halfway Tree and Welcome to Jamrock. We love TLC’s albums, they have made really good albums. We can put it on now and still jam to it, you know.
HRS: Who do you look forward to working with in the future?
Nyanda: We have been so blessed to work with so many talented producers and artists. Getting to work with Will.I.Am, which was wow (laughter)! We worked with Akon, with Tony Kelly who is a legend as a Jamaican producer, Cool & Dre. A lot of these people we have admired their music before. I think we want to work with Kanye West in the future. We’d love to work with Stephen Marley. He’s a wonderful artist and producer.
HRS: Any words for fans and the HipHopRnBSoul.com audience?
Nyanda: We just want to tell them to stay positive, see the positive things and see the blessings in small things, you know what I mean. I think in life we have to learn to appreciate what we have because a lot of the time we complain. Appreciate life and appreciate the journey. Nailah and I have learned that because we’ve been in the grind and always looking for the destination. We have really learned it’s about the journey. Also, we are blessed to be on the scene. People are always asking “where’s the album, Brick and Lace?” (Laughter) It’s coming. We definitely want them to know, it’s coming.
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