All Hail Queen Naija


Maggie Mahoney

Fitting for this series’ title: Queens of R&B, our first spotlight artist is the prolific: Queen Naija. Born on October 17, 1995, to an African American mother and Arab father, Queen grew up in Detroit, Michigan, singing in her church’s choir since the age of three.

Ever since her early years, her rise to fame has been a winding and interesting road, aided by a variety of platforms. Queen gained prominence in 2014 as a contestant on the 8th season of American Idol, however, she was cut before the top 30.

From 2016 on, she started building her YouTube career through a joint channel with her now ex-husband: Christopher Sails. Their channel featured a variety of music: both covers, remixes, and originals.

When Queen filed for divorce, she continued with a YouTube music career by starting her own channel that quickly amassed 4.2 million subscribers as of August 2019.

Queen’s complete emergence into the public eye, outside of the YouTube community, however, came about after her December 2017 release of the hit song: “Medicine.” The track is now featured on her 2018 EP titled after her namesake.

A month after the song came out it had 5 million views on YouTube. Shortly after it’s release, in April of 2018, Queen was signed to Capitol Records.

Despite being a bite-sized EP of only 5 songs, Queen Naija packs a punch. The diverse R&B tracks follow Queen’s emotional journey post-breakup, drawing on potent themes of heartbreak, love, betrayal, and motherhood. Walking a tightrope between delicacy and strength, her songs all convey emotional vulnerability, despite varying tones and musical choices.

Opening with her breakout, slow-burning hit: “Medicine,” the EP takes on sultry, dark tones to speak about the dissolution of Queen’s relationship. In the lyrics, we see her strong desire for revenge through a fantasy sequence of plans.

Queen croons to her ex-lover in the final lines of the chorus: “Don’t get it twisted, I can play this game too. How would you like it if I did the same to you?” in reference to the infidelity of her ex.

The second track: “Karma” only builds on the neglect and lack of self-worth Queen feels upon learning of her ex’s cheating. Despite tones of bitterness, the ballad conveys a softness and a sense of letting go that “Medicine” lacks. Rather than seeking active revenge, Queen warns her previous love to watch out for Karma now that he’s left her through the line: “Remember what goes around comes back around.”

“Mama’s Hand” marks an interesting transitional shift away from matters related to her ex and on to an appreciation for her child. Through this painful situation, albeit awful, Queen gained a family. The heartwarming track begins with snippets of a recorded conversation between herself and her first son: CJ. It segues into a beautiful tribute to her protective instinct over her son and the joy she feels in being a mother.

“Butterflies,” the album’s fourth track, marks another significant tonal shift as Queen opens herself up to love again. The song is widely thought to be about her current boyfriend: Clarence White who she has a newborn child with. The touching acoustic melody paired with vulnerable lyrics gives the song all the authenticity of the early stages of falling in love.

To round out Queen’s EP is the soulful track: “Bad Boy”: an ode to the potential she sees in her new lover to be a better man and move on from the mistakes of the past. She sings about her new love, telling him: “Boy I think you need a good girl. Someone to make you do better. Maybe I could be a good girl: I could make you do better.” Speaking of the future Queen envisions for herself, the track leaves us optimistic and reflective.

Through storming the R&B scene with her Billboard smash hit and continuing her popularity and success with her 2018 EP, Queen Naija makes herself a woman to watch in her genre. To read more about Queen, visit her website. Listen to her EP on Apple Music or Spotify.