#BehindTheHits: Nija Charles is a certified hit-maker across any genre
When Ariana Grande’s “Positions” made its debut at No.1, it became her fifth single to reach the No. 1 position on the Hot 100. This major achievement also meant another chart topper for songwriter Nija Charles. She was a co-writer on the Ariana Grande and Lady Gaga collaboration “Rain on Me” which also entered the chart at number one back in June.
In just a few short years, Nija has written for some of the music industry elite. Beyoncé, Drake, Chris Brown, and Cardi B have all performed songs written by the 23-year old Jersey born songwriter.
Her work on Chris Brown and Drake’s smash-hit “No Guidance” landed Charles a Grammy nomination for ‘Best R&B Song.’ Another massive moment for Nija was her contributions to Beyoncé’s “Black Is King” album. She is credited for writing “Water” with Salatiel, Pharrell Williams and Beyoncé. For Beyoncé’s “My Power” she is credited as a featured artist and even made an appearance in the accompanying visual. She first got to write for Beyoncé back in 2018 with “Heard About Us” from the “Everything Is Love'' album.
Cardi B and Kehlani’s “Ring” was one of the first song’s Nija wrote that she heard on the radio. Two years later, Charles has appeared on BET's 2020 "Future 40" list, Rolling Stone's "Future 25" list and the coveted Forbes “30 Under 30” list. Earlier this year, Charles was honored with a street dedication in her hometown of Union New Jersey. No other songwriter has experienced such a meteoric rise as Nija Charles, taking off at lightning speed.
[Ariana Grande Positions Music Video: Republic Records]
Black women have been writing huge pop records for a long time. For instance, Ester Dean is responsible for some of the biggest pop songs of the last decade. She is the pen behind anthems like Katy Perry’s diamond certified “Firework.” Rihanna’s “What's My Name?” and “S&M” were both written by Ester Dean.
You would think the path was already laid out for Nija to transition into pop. However, she spoke with Billboard about the challenges of walking into a session and having people try to put her in the proverbial “box” that so many Black artists are often relegated to.
She told Billboard: “I would go into pop [writing] rooms and they would be like, 'Hey, maybe we should work on [a song for] Meek Mill or 21 Savage. We're here to write a pop song. Why do you want to all of a sudden cross over into hip-hop? It's because I'm here — and that's something that's normalized in the industry."
She then detailed the pressure of wanting to speak out but not wanting to seem confrontational or as though she was “making it a race thing.” Despite Charles' already stacked resume, she still found herself having to walk into these writing sessions and prove herself. Indeed, she did, both of her pop attempts with Ariana Grande have topped the chart. The song “Rain on Me” has quickly become one of Gaga and Grande’s signature hits and is sure to be a shining star at the 2021 Grammys.
Nija is a certified hit-maker and she’s just getting started.